Friday Night Lights

While I’m working through my CD ripping project, I’ve been knitting and doing some marathon Netflix watching. I can’t remember what prompted me to start watching Friday Night Lights, but I’ve been working my way through the first several seasons – and it’s GOOD. The writing is amazing. I wish I’d been watching this all along. The problem is that after watching the show continuously, I’ve started talking with a Texas twang. It’s a little embarrassing.

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Golden Globes Nominations 2012. Wha?

Looking over the list of nominations for the Golden Globes for 2012 is just oddness. I’ve read an number of allegations that this particular awards ceremony is basically just bought and sold pretty freely, and it somewhat makes sense looking at the nominations. How on earth is New Girl nominated but for “Best Television Series — Comedy or Musical” and not Parks and Recreation? And Zooey Deschanel for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series — Comedy or Musical but not Lea Michele for Glee?

New Girl is a pretty big pile of crap. The last two episodes have been unwatchable. The scenes with Zooey and Justin Long really just make me want to shoot them both. It’s just rank. How is this supposed to be funny? And Lea Michele is just underrated and undercut on Glee. Poor writing for her character aside, her performance during the Christmas episode was hilarious, especially during the Judy Garland Special parody. She does goofy comic stuff very similarly to Barbra Streisand – but better, which is one of the few areas where I’d give her the prize over Barbra. It’ll be nice when she gets a show of her own to do and can break away from the ensemble stuff and the horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad writing on that otherwise enjoyable show.

Amy Poehler better win that award over Zooey. Seriously, Golden Globes, or I’ll be accusing you of fraud, too.

And oh, look, David Duchovny, Californication nominated for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series — Comedy or Musical.” Shouldn’t that be the category of “fictionalized real-life as a cautionary tale?” What an odd nomination. I haven’t seen the show past the first season, but it didn’t strike me as a comedy at all, and I can think of bigger performances that have received a lot more attention that his.

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Lesbian Web Series

There aren’t too many mainstream television shows with lesbian main characters, but there is no shortage of online web series and shorts. Many of them are independently produced and rely on viewer contributions to keep production going. I’ve only seen the Girl Trash series so far, but have read reviews here and there — enough to assemble this list so I can start watching. I’m betting maybe you’ll be interested in watching, too.

Anyone But Me
Introducing a new generation: gay, straight, and ethnically diverse struggling with identity and modern relationships. From the Executive Producer/Writer team of Susan Miller (L Word and Thirtysomething) and Tina Cesa Ward (In Their Absence) Anyone But Me is shot on location in New York City and Los Angeles.
Seasons On, Two and Three are complete.

A 9-episode web series by Angela Robinson, the sequel Girltrash! All Night Long is in production as a movie. It appears that the series is temporarily offline while the site is under construction. Robinson is a director and screen writer who worked on a number of series including The L-Word.

Out With Dad
A teenage girl and her single father. Rose is coming of age and coming out of the closet. All he wants is for her to be happy, and out with Dad.
Season One is complete, Season Two is coming shortly.

We Have to Stop Now
Dyna, sleek and cerebral, and Kit, quirky and spontaneous, are a couple. They are also a couple of therapists. And despite their wildly different methods, they’ve written a singular book on marriage called “How To Succeed In Marriage Without Even Trying”. Trouble is, their own marriage is falling apart, even after years of work with their own therapist, Susan. So, they’ve decided to call it quits. However, once their book hits No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list, they’re both not so sure that “quits” is a good idea…
Season One is available to watch free, Season Two is by subscription.

Vag Magazine
VAG MAGAZINE is not your grandma’s feminist magazine, though we support her as a woman. Go behind the scenes at this hipster third-wave feminist magazine with founders FENNEL, SYLVIE, and BETHANY, staffers HEAVY FLO (a hero on the roller derby circuit), REBA (truly a legend of gonzo feminist pop culture journalism), and MEGHAN (the lone holdover from fashion magazine Gemma, which the Vag founders bought out with the proceeds from their Etsy shop), as well as enthusiastic intern KIT, as they teach you how to be a better woman. This six-part web series stars and was created, written, directed, and produced by comedians from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

B.J. Fletcher: Private Eye
With an all Canadian cast and crew, featuring Lindy Zucker and Dana Puddicombe in the leading roles, B.J. Fletcher: Private Eye is a distinctly new and unique production bringing to life strong female characters with the right balance of action, comedy, and diversity.
Seasons One and Two.

The Real Girl’s Guide to Everything Else
A journalist, nearly dropped by her agent because her work is too smart, political, lesbian and feminist, goes undercover as a glitter-wearing, shoe-obsessed, Cosmo-drinking straight girl.
Season One (Six Episodes) is available, with season 2 coming soon.

Seeking Simone – The Web Series
Seeking Simone is a lesbian web series about online dating. Follow the adventures of Simone Selkin as she dates her way through gay Toronto!
Season One and Two appear to be complete.

Girl/Girl Scene
Based on the lives and loves of four young friends, this series boldly goes where no other has gone before: between the sheets and into the minds and hearts of unapologetically queer women living in middle America. But underlying the many shocking and controversial moments is an important drama exploring the intoxicating extremes of modern day life and love.
Season One – Episodes 1 – 5 are available

Cat on The Prowl
A weekly video blog chronicling the attempts of out comedian Cat Davis to meet women in L.A. Part interview show and part comedy show, the series aired over 40 episodes in 2008 and 2009.

Venice is a web soap opera series and the creative concept of long time friends and artistic partners Crystal Chappell and Kimmy Turrisi. Venice focuses on the life of Gina Brogno — a single, gay, self-made interior designer — living and working in Venice Beach, California. The plot follows Gina’s human experience in connection with her various love interests, brother Owen, father The Colonel and myriad other characters that make up Gina’s network of relationships.
12 Episodes are available via subscription

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Space Girls

The song is by The Imagined Village.

Source in order of appearance:
Lost In Space
Outer Limits
Doctor Who
The Giant Behemoth
Twilight Zone
Attack Of The 50 ft Woman
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
Forbidden Planet
Queen of Outer Space
Space 1999
Sapphire And Steel
Star Trek
Logans Run
5th Element
Soylent Green
Star Wars
Blakes 7
Mork And Mindy
Star Trek Next Gen
Starship Troopers
Earth Final Conflict
Terminator 2
New Doctor Who
Startrek Voyager
Battlestar Galactica
Babylon 5
Space Above and Beyond
Terminator: Sarah Connor
Earth 2

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links for 2011-05-27

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Sexual fluidity, Skins US, and labels! labels! labels!

This is a subject that has been bouncing around in my brain pan for several months… I’ve tried to figure out a number of ways to write about it, but nothing was really gelling well for me, and it’s a tricky subject, so I’ve left it alone. But I realized I had a way to discuss it yesterday when I ran across this particular paragraph in a piece of fan fiction that I was reading (YES, I’m reading Glee fan fiction. Do. Not. Judge. Me.):

“It’s quite alright. Although… I am curious, and you by all means don’t have to answer if it makes you uncomfortable, but I’m dying to know…” Quinn just looked at her. “Does this mean you’re… bisexual?”

Quinn made a noise which sounded half way between a snort and a laugh. “Um, I don’t think so. I hate to be so cliché, but I’m not a big fan of labels. I don’t like it when anyone wears their sexuality as a badge, you know? And, again, cliché alert, but I believe that you don’t really fall in love with someone’s gender. Like… you don’t fall for someone because of their genitalia, do you?” Rachel blushed. “I’m doing my very best to avoid using the word fluid but I suppose it does best describe… it. I guess… I guess the short answer to your question is maybe… probably… I don’t know? But it doesn’t really bother me.”

Okay. Problems. This whole concept would be fine if the character (or by extension, the author) were talking only about themselves. I know there are many folks for whom their sexuality is fluid, and they fall for the person, not their genitalia, and that’s awesome. Call it bisexuality, omni-sexuality, sexual fluidity, and if you want to enjoy your sexuality you can also use toys from a huge range of toys online.

But in this case, the author is making some broad statements about everyone‘s sexual orientation, including mine. And that’s where I must vigorously object. To me, defining other people’s sexuality for them is obnoxious no matter who is doing it – whether it’s coming from sexually fluid people or the Westboro Baptist Church. And the tendency of sexual fluidity advocates to paint the world in their own image has come up quite a bit lately in my online reading, which I’ll get to in a minute. But first a few statements of fact for the record, your honor:

My sexuality is not fluid. I am not attracted to guys. I am attracted to women. And for me, genitalia does matter. I like cis lady parts. A LOT. Sorry; don’t mean to be crude or anything, but I do. I’m on Team Vagina. I’ll even wear the shirt. I think about cis lady parts a lot. I daydream about them when I’m bored and zoned out in meetings. Although I promise I’ve never done this in a meeting with you. No sirree. (I totally have; sorry.) Sometimes I’m thinking about cis lady parts belonging to a specific lady, and sometimes to no lady in particular. Although I promise I’ve never thought about yours. I swear. (Okay, if you’re not related to me, I may possibly have. Again, I’m sorry; I’m not really doing on purpose or anything. Consciously. If it helps, I imagined they are awesome and a place of sparkly rainbows where unicorns frolic. Does that help? No? Please don’t hate me.)

Anyways – this isn’t to say that I fall in love with or am attracted to women solely because of their cis lady parts. But they really are a factor. And I don’t have such feelings for cis or trans men, or cis gentleman parts. At all. I think guys are awesome. Some of them are aesthetically pleasing, in the way that a painting or a summer meadow is aesthetically pleasing. But I don’t want to jump them and ride like a pony, any more than I want to do that to a painting. (Ignore that time I got kicked out of the art museum. I fell on that picture, I swear!). Many guys are quite handsome. In the same way that my brothers are handsome fellows, all of them. In my head, I picture them looking like Ken dolls under their pants.

So in summary: blanket statements about sexual fluidity != my sexuality. Vagina parts = awesome to me! Penis parts = not my first interest, but yay for you!

The reason this subject been rattling around in my brain lately is because the subject came up in a large fashion in the comments on the website, surrounding their coverage of the US version of Skins, the television show imported from Britain and aired on MTV recently.

I wrote a bit about my misgivings about that show (Skins: British vs. American) several weeks back. It was a big deal on several of the of the gay pop culture websites I read regularly, so I tuned in, and wasn’t terribly impressed, if you recall. I liked the British version, (which was also heavily blogged about on better, and thought some of the changes to the show had been made on the basis of the perception of American audiences being more receptive to female homosexuality than male homosexuality. I was also pretty critical of yet another storyline of a lesbian sleeping with a man – because is there a lesbian on television who hasn’t really? This is pretty standard fare for lesbian storylines. It’s usually one of three stories, none of which bears much resemblance to actual live lesbians: 1) sleeps with man, 2) birthin’ the babies! 3) psycho-stalker-killer!

As Skins US progressed through the season, the ‘lesbian’ character does indeed sleep with a man on more than one occasion, saying she has a connection with him and is attracted to him on some intellectual level. As the season went on, the regular commenters on after became pretty critical of the storyline in the comments.

Relating to the “lesbian sleeps with man” discussions on, during a couple of interviews with creators of the show, Bryan Elsley and his son Jamie Brittain, both of these fellows stated that they felt that everyone was really sexual fluid.

Bryan Elsley (“Skins” boss Bryan Elsley talks Tea, Tony and Naomily):

No one I’ve spoken to, in all the years I’ve been writing, even when I was writing Naomily — I’ve never met a lesbian who said, “You know, I’ve never, ever considered sleeping with a man. I’ve never slept with a man. I’d never consider doing that.”

That’s a pretty blanket statement – granted, he’s talking only about lesbians he’s met, not lesbians as a whole, but still, I am not the only woman in the world for whom this statement is completely untrue, as evidenced by the howls of protest from the comments and choruses of “well, he hasn’t met me, apparently!”

And then there’s this statement from co-creator Jamie Brittian (Exclusive: “Skins” boss Jamie Brittain talks series 5):

AE: Cool! I can’t wait to read it. I’m not asking you to label any of your characters, but is it fair to say that Liv and Franky and Mini are all three pretty sexually fluid?

JB: I think that would be a fair assessment. But then again, and this is where me and Bryan keep getting into trouble. I think everyone is at least a little bit sexually fluid. I know a lot of people don’t agree with that, though. Weirdly, I think Liv is the least sexually fluid out of all of them. But I think she’s a really brave girl who’s willing to go a long way to find love.

So a bit of generalizing about sexualities that are not owned by them from both of these men occurred, followed by much back and forth in the comments on both interviews as well as in the recaps of every one of the shows.

And speaking of the recaps – there is also Senior Editor Heather Hogan. She interviewed both of these fellows and she also wrote the recaps for each episode of the show. And she is also fairly invested in the idea that all humans are really sexually fluid, be-damned what some humans have to say on their own behalf about it. She brings up her point of view and tries to solidify her case in nearly every piece of writing she writes for the site, and on her own journal as well. She’s like a dog who just can’t stop worrying that bone, long after the discussion has died down. And she has a tendency to demonize the folks that disagree with her, accusing them of all manner of unsavory behaviors.

If it were me, I’d have tried to separate narrating the storyline from my opinions about the larger gay community to some extent, given that there was some pretty obvious disagreement about whether the storyline was a valid one that resonated with lesbians or whether it was a reflection of our disjointed cultural thought about gay characters.

But big deal; it’s a television show, right? I guess so. But it’s still putting out there this notion that gay girls should be ‘confused’ about their feelings, and that sleeping with a boy is how they should clarify that confusion. I really beg to differ with that message – it wasn’t true for me 20-some years ago, and it certainly shouldn’t be for today’s teens, who have lots better lesbian characters on whom to model healthy relationships from than I did. I never needed to sleep with a guy to know that I was a Kinsey 6, and the only role models I had were Colette novels I stumbled across in the library completely by accident. And flip that narrative around – we don’t say that straight teens should sleep with the same sex to sort out their sexual orientations.

Nor do we say that gay boys should get it on with girls to determine their orientation, either. Gay boys just have to say “I’m gay” and they’re totally believed, because why would they say that and subject themselves to society’s wrath if it weren’t true? So aside from the issues of sexual orientation, there’s a weird double standard that appears sexist to this whole thread as well. There’s lots and lots of talk about women being sexually fluid, but not really much about men. Nor are there lots of “male sexual fluidity” storylines going around, either.

And let’s cap this whole discussion off with the notion of “labeling” people, because it’s a common refrain from the “we’re all sexually fluid” advocates: “I don’t believe in labels!” The words gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, heterosexual – they aren’t “labels” or “pigeon holes” or boxes. They are merely words. Words don’t define you, they describe you. And if these words don’t describe you accurately, you can always use more words. Write sentences. Write paragraphs. (Witness: the fifth paragraph of this article, wherein I do that about myself!) If you don’t, people may have difficulty relating to you, because they won’t understand where you’re coming from. Honesty and openness is a key component of happy and successful relationships. Yes life is messy, and we don’t always think about or describe ourselves the same way, but we have to communicate, and the key to that is not obfuscation. It’s clarity.

Continue ReadingSexual fluidity, Skins US, and labels! labels! labels!

A Song of Ice and Fire

The HBO series A Game of Thrones starts tonight, and author George R. R. Martin responds on his blog to the off-base New York Times article by Ginia Bellafante claiming that the fantasy genre of literature is “boy fiction” and that his series attracts women by spicing up his novels with graphic sex. As he notes in his post, female fantasy fans all over the internet are enraged about the charge that fantasy isn’t for girls, and that Martin’s series attracts the women folk solely through sex.

I’ve read a lot of fantasy series, but have veered away from the genre in the last ten years because many of them are so formulaic – which I’ve complained about here before – many follow the Joseph Campbell tropes – orphan hero with royal heritage goes on travel quest guided by mentor to defeat evil lurking in the mountains to save the world – that is pretty misogynist and repetitively boring as well. One of the many reasons I enjoy Martin’s series is because it blows that annoying trope out of the water – there’s no “one true hero” – but many; a huge cast of characters, all with their own motivations, moving against and with one another advancing the plot in their own ways. Drawing comparisons, I’d say The Wire is the closest I can think of in story construction to Martin’s series. It’s fascinating to see so many characters viewing the same story from different angles, all with partial understanding of what’s really going on, and succeeding and failing without always knowing entirely why.

And Martin has strong female characters – who are strong in different ways from each other – and who are acting on their own agendas, which may or may not be related to men’s agendas. That is a huge appeal as well; to see women acting like actual women act and not like cardboard cutout princesses from some distant mythic fairy tale.

So I’m glad that there’s been an outcry about the characterization of the series, especially since Martin’s fandom has been pretty critical of him of late; he’s had writers block over the last several years and the recent installments of his novels have been delayed. It’s nice to see them fiercely defend him for once, instead of giving him a hard time. I’m looking forward to the series. And if I get around to it, I may need to re-read the novels.

A Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire)

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3)

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)

A Dance with Dragons (Song of Ice and Fire)

Continue ReadingA Song of Ice and Fire