Category Archives: Movies + TV

A Love Letter to Single Mothers & Their Daughters — For the Gilmore Girls and the Rest of Us

 

I’ll confess that I was excited to write a piece about the Gilmore Girls reboot. The idea of course came before Trump happened. I was not anticipating the reboot to be a racist, misogynist, body-shaming, ageist, and flat out weird piece of garbage, but I guess it’s fitting, since so is Trump (badum ching). I was ready for it to be a capitalist fetish fest but not like that, not an excruciating series that confirms that Lorelei lost the struggle to save her daughter and herself from bourgeois entitled nonsense. Remember when Lorelei wouldn’t let Emily buy her daughter extra skirts for school because she doesn’t need them? I know this battle was already done with the appearance of Logan, but the reboot—with its sad, bizarre, and uneven writing—confirmed for me that Gilmore Girls is a cautionary tale for women and girls who want to imagine and create their own homes, their own joys. And it is for that reason that I want to write about Gilmore Girls—especially now considering Netflix talk of a possible second revival.

Gilmore Girls came out when I was just out of high school (a shocking fact because I think of it as a backdrop to my high school years). I was working at a chain restaurant where I had to sing about sombreros while I attended community college full-time. I was driven by getting out of my particular small town, driven by the strangely abrupt alert feeling that coming out of family transition and trauma rattled in me, driven by my mother who would drape a blanket over my shoulders as I typed away on an aged computer late into the night, me smelling of “faquitas” (Really it was butter that they’d drop on a skillet so that it’d look sizzling hot, so yes my skin was great then) and coffee. My mom was working like she’s always worked (a lot) and created her own spaces like she always had—waking before the sun and sipping coffee while slowly walking her garden. We were coming off of four years of rebuilding and creating home. We would watch Gilmore Girls between hurried dinner and homework and ironing tomorrow’s clothes and washing dishes and talking about that person at work and wringing out stockings and feeding the dog. Continue reading

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Gusbands, Gusbandry and Gunnymoons: An Interview with Alicia J. Rose


The Benefits of Gusbandry

Last month, Alicia J. Rose’s comedy series The Benefits of Gusbandry went live on the web in conjunction with a crowdfunding campaign for new episodes. We had a chance to talk to her about her anything-but-vanilla gay comedy.

Sarah McCarron: Where to start. There’s so much to chat about.

Alicia J. Rose: I’m plucking my eyebrows while talking to you.

SM: I love it. So, “Gusbandry.” Why don’t we just start with the term actually. Is that a term you made up or is that a term that existed before?

AJR: Well, the term “gusband” has been around for a while. I think that it has always been a term of endearment, but “gusbandry” is a term that I did make up. I don’t know of another word to describe the relationships I have with the gay men in my life. I mean, they’re not just friendships. They are comprised of emotionally enriched in-depth relationships that for me have lasted a lot longer than my romantic relationships because, I just blow those up really bad.

SM: Aw.

AJR: Not on purpose, but I feel like I was just born with a shitty picker. The show was born out of my relationship with my most recent gusband, Lake, but I’ve been having these relationships my whole life with gay male friends. Once I put that together, that’s when I realized that I had to make a show.

SM: Are your relationships with gusbands exclusive?

AJR: Well, I like to call myself “polygusbandrous” because I can’t have just one, you know. If I attracted straight men like I attract gay men, life would have been a very different journey for me. The relationships with my gusbands are the most powerful and have been more consistent in a way. I had to make a tribute to them somehow.

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Shhh: I’m a Black Woman who Watches Gilmore Girls

I was Rory Gilmore. I spent 9th grade at a high school where I was woefully unchallenged. Like Rory, I transferred from that school to a rigorous college prep high school (complete with knee-length multicolored skirts). I was an outsider who couldn’t quite figure out how the privileged system worked, at first. I too had my sights set on the Ivy League and eventually realized those dreams. I struggled my first year at Princeton by taking on more than I could handle, and even took part of a year off. For me, like Rory, reading was as natural, as necessary, as breathing.

Gilmore Girls was the family-friendly show that I could watch with my mother, as we both wished our relationship was more Lorelai and Rory and less Emily and Lorelai. I took pride in understanding more and more of the show’s obscure pop culture references with each round of reruns on Netflix. It never occurred to me to be frustrated by the stark lack of diversity on the show. The differences between Rory’s privileged suburban life and my ‘hood and poverty-adjacent life did not bother me; I ignored them in order to solidly place myself in her world. 

When news of the revival hit the internet, I responded with squeals and over-the-top Facebook statuses filled with exclamation points. It was meant to be a reunion with old friends. I built it up in my mind to be everything I wished seasons 6 and 7 (after the departure of Amy Sherman-Palladino) would be. I imagined Rory and Paris conquering the world, harnessing the passion and focus of their Chilton days, and directing it with the maturity of lessons learned. 

I reflected on the various ways that I still was Rory Gilmore: Since the series ended in 2007, I have become a freelance writer and gotten an MFA. I’m a writer, like Rory. I’m an Ivy League graduate, like Rory. When I sat down with a friend I met at the VONA/Voices workshop to binge watch the revival, I went into it with the hope that it would be the mirror I had imagined the show was. 

Admittedly, my hopes were, dare I say, a bit ridiculous. It was unfair, and yes, maybe even naive to expect that Rory—with her white, upper-class Connecticut background—would reflect my life back to me. I have changed—I am Rory Gilmore, but not. In the years since my first Gilmore Girls viewings, I have seen myself in Grey’s Anatomy’s Miranda Bailey, How to Get Away with Murder’s Annalise Keating, Scandal’s Olivia Pope, and Queen Sugar’s Charley Bordelon West. Black women in media like Shonda Rhimes and Ava DuVernay have spoiled me with strong black female leads, and challenged me with deeply flawed, complicated, real characters.  Continue reading

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Space to Roam: An Interview with Kelly Sears

Kelly Sears is one of my favorite filmmakers. Using animation as her primary medium, Sears animates cut up and collage appropriated imagery focused on American politics and culture to create interventions of the history found within each frame. In New York City this week, where Sears was in town to screen a body of her work at Anthology Film Archives, I had a chance to ask her a few questions.

Kelly Sears

Cathy de la Cruz: How long would you say you’ve been operating at the vanguard of non-commercial cinema? What lead you to begin making experimental moving image work?

Kelly Sears: I saw my first hand cranked 16mm camera at Hampshire College and just thought this little apparatus could do so much, all powered by me cranking it! Movies can be made by large teams – or movies could be made by one person experimenting and asking a lot of questions. It was the first time that making films seemed like something I could do as an individual. This was at the time where digital video was taking hold and it was all about progress and technology. I was really captured by smaller, individual experimental films I was seeing in my classes. I’d loved the abstract films, animations, essayistic work and strange narratives that were screened and I wanted to make all of the above. I also took a video class as Smith College and got my first introduction to feminist moving image communities.

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The Strongest Girls in the World: A Review of Wigs

Still image from WIGS

Writer/performer/director/artist/professor, Lindsay Beamish thinks about rooms a lot. Some of her earliest art projects show a fascination with women in abandoned rooms. Ms. Beamish likes to make jokes while alone in her bedroom, and she once locked herself in a motel room in the middle of nowhere Wyoming to write her Master’s thesis, which garnered her the Iron Horse Discovered Voices Award in 2011.

Beamish describes her current project, Wigs as being about “two captured preteen girls locked in a room.” Wigs is a two-woman theatrical piece written, directed and starring Lindsay Beamish and Amanda Vitiello, and is currently showing at the New York International Fringe Festival. The origins of Wigs began with Beamish and Vitiello, in an empty room. According to the Wigs Artist’s Note, with “the impetus of challenging ourselves to work in ways that we hadn’t before; ways that were uncomfortably outside of our typical modes of creating original theater.” Rehearsal for Wigs began with Beamish shouting commands at Vitiello who only brought with her to that initial rehearsal space, The Flo Rida featuring Sia song, “Wild Ones” which is prominently featured in the final piece.

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I Feminist <3 Harley Quinn: An Apologia. Kinda.


Yeah, I feminist <3 Harley Quinn
. I just saw Suicide Squad. I know little about the other Harley Quinns—the many versions in DC comic books and animated TV shows and video games–so I can’t really speak to those. But I can say what I noticed about the Harley Quinn in the movie.

The movie doesn’t know who it wants Harley Quinn to be. But I don’t care—I still feminist <3 her.

No, that’s a lie. I totally care. I care about the mess of contradictory characterizations and the abusive version of BDSM* that Harley and the Joker’s relationship represents in the movie. I care so fucking much that I want to blast my way through the shitshow of David Ayer’s narrative with Harley’s LOVE/HATE pistol and make it my own, take that text and chew it like gum and blow it back out in a big pink bubble that is sticky sweet and strong and whole. Continue reading

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So Wet: Crying & Gender on The Bachelor

Artwork exploring female tears, the romance plot, and the fantasy of reality in the Bachelor franchise.

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The Whole Package - The Bachelor artworkThe Whole Package, 2016, Fabric, thread, packing peanuts, 35 x 29 x 6″

 

Please Accept My Rose - The Bachelor artworkPlease Accept My Rose, 2016, Fabric, thread, dye, gesso, polyfil, 19 x 21 x 14″

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Black Grrrl Joy on the 30th Anniversary of Ferris Bueller : LaSloane Peterson’s Snow Day Off

Black Grrrl Joy on the 30th Anniversary of Ferris Bueller

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I always saw myself in John Hughes’ films, even if he couldn’t see me in them.

I don’t say this lightly. Hughes’ body of work is consistently characterized as the pithy zenith of coming-of-age movies, enduring due to his representation of real teenagers with typical problems. Yet people of color were either absent or horrifically stereotypically represented in his films. How American. In Hughes’ iconic film about the joy of young white mischief,  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the only POC are:

1) Two garage hands who take the Ferrari for a joy ride, which is exactly what Ferris & co. have done but somehow the narrative holds them as more criminal.

2) The Asian chief of police (legit a rare and brief non-pejorative caricature—and he’s a COP which is like “oh hey assimilate and enforce the police state and you’re cleared for representation kthxbye”).

3) An entire cadre of black people who magically appear and do a “Thriller”-esque choreographed scene during the parade sequence. Continue reading

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A Mix of a Sassy Teenager and a Crotchety Old Lady: An Interview with Hadley Freeman

One of the most enjoyable, personal, and feminist books I’ve read this summer had to be Hadley Freeman’s 80s film exploration Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned From Eighties Movies (and Why We Don’t Learn Them From Movies Any More). Not only is this a book that examines in detail some of the greatest films of (dare I say?) all-time such as The Princess Bride, Coming to America, Pretty in Pink, and Ghostbusters; the real draw of the collection is Freeman herself. Reading this book is like having a way cooler older sister watching the film right alongside you, pointing out the lessons you would have overlooked while simply laughing at the classic John Hughes wit. It’s hard to finish the book without feeling like Freeman is that cool upperclassmen in school that for some inexplicable reason, has taken you under her wing as friend, and a girl like me couldn’t waste the chance to extend that feeling into an interview. Read on to see some of the questions I couldn’t help but ask her about the book, feminists in film, and of course, Ghostbusters:

Kati Heng: As I read the book, I kept thinking that the subtitle very easily could have been “What 80s Movies Taught Us About Feminism and Why We Don’t Learn That Stuff from Movies Anymore,” or something catchier. Did you ever consider releasing this book in a more upfront feminist version?
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La Virgen de Oklahoma: Jane the Virgin and Flashbacks to Abstinence-Only Education in Biology Class

Jane the Virgin

I thought about staying a virgin until marriage when I was thirteen years old because I started attending a Baptist church with my best friend. She was almost two years older than me so, I figured she was wiser and she seemed very certain about remaining chaste. Sexuality, in general, was very confusing for me. For one, I didn’t want to think about sexuality. I felt trapped in a body that was not growing into itself, I felt ashamed to be in my body because of the trauma encrypted into my body at the hands of a grown man when I was a child. I was afraid that being touched meant giving away a part of myself that I could never get back. Being a virgin and “saving yourself” was a conversation I heard in church a lot. It was always about being pure for your future husband and once he gave you a diamond ring and proposed, on your wedding night, you could give him your version of a diamond ring. The both of you could stop dry humping in front of God and get to real life intercourse as God applauds at your ability to wait.
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