Orange Is the New Black star and trans* advocate Laverne Cox won our grace-under-fire prize this week when she turned Katie Couric’s reductive line of questioning regarding her “private parts” and whether she’d had transitional surgery into a beautiful and educational moment for daytime TV audiences.
“The preoccupation with transition and its surgery objectifies trans* people,” taught Cox, who was hardly ruffled by Couric’s insistence on talking about Cox’s genitals—despite the fact that the talk show host had on her couch the first transwoman of color to produce and star in her own TV show (Cox, with VH1’s TRANSform Me) and the first transwoman to appear in the pages of Vogue Italia (the show’s other guest, Carmen Carrera, is a RuPaul’s Drag Race alumna whose fans have gathered 45,000 signatures in support of her appearing in a Victoria’s Secret runway show). “The reality of transpeoples’ lives is that so often we are targets of violence,” continued Cox. “We experience discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the community…if we focus on transition, we don’t get to talk about those things.” Can we focus on you running for president, Laverne? Please ’n’ thank you.
The Insane Clown Posse and a small group of Juggalos (as the group’s hardcore fans dub themselves) are suing the FBI on the grounds that a 2011 FBI report that identified ICP fans as a “loosely organized hybrid gang” has inspired prejudiced behavior towards the crew and its followers—one Juggalo says he was even denied his application to join the Army because of his ICP tats. Now that the American Civil Liberties Union has announced that it will support the Insane Clown Posse’s legal battle, the FBI may want to reconsider its position on the masses who proclaim themselves “down with the clown,” one widely held Juggalo motto.
I’m tremendously in love with this supermix of drag queens performing the ENTIRE new Beyoncé album that Rookie’s Caitlin D. shared on her rad new site, AHDM4U. Put it on when you’re feeling sad and watch your day get instantly better.
No matter your feelings on 2013’s nu-Miley, all of her goings-on fueled some smart and interesting and necessary discourse about race, appropriation, visibility, ownership, and all that important stuff that we need to dig into as feminists. Bullett polled some fashion-minded thinkers about Miley’s embrace of “rachet” looks, and naturally, I am interested in any perspectives about ANYTHING coming from Mykki Blanco, and Ayesha A. Siddiqi, who remarked, “While our communities are mined for the latest hip accessories that are lauded on white bodies while suspect on ours, it’s a valuation of whiteness above us.” But the entirety of the ideas in this piece sparked so much thought in me, and I bet it’ll do the same for you.
The parody Coachella poster is now a annual rite after the festival lineup is announced, and on the heels of this year’s big reveal (Outkast!) comes this poster of “Coachella For Dads.” I laughed so hard I wasn’t even making any sounds, and was actually crying by the time I got to “Good Wood Under This Carpet” and “Spare D Batteries.”
If you haven’t seen Kenneth Anger’s influential short films, this long look at Anger and his work explains how he came to write Hollywood Babylon, the still-lengendary tome of early and deeply sordid Hollywood gossip. This article is a really engrossing read, both for fans and the uninitiated. Plus, it begins with a visit to his future gravesite!
The record-breaking cold front of last week created a landscape that was PURE MAGIC. These ice-covered lighthouses along Lake Michigan are like bearded wizards, or something straight out of Narnia!
Sleater-Kinney is one of my all-time favorite bands and Portlandia is one of my all-time favorite shows, so I was super-psyched to read this Stereogum interview with Carrie Brownstein. In it, Carrie talks about writing a memoir (and describes the experience with an amazing mansion metaphor), the guest stars on the next season of Portlandia (including Kirsten Dunst, Maya Rudolph, Dan Savage, and Tunde Adebimpe!), how it felt to watch The Punk Singer and the space that Bikini Kill helped carve out for all the women that followed them including Sleater-Kinney.
This week, in a most amazing of crossovers, The Simpsons did a tribute to Studio Ghibli, the iconic Japanese animation group responsible for films like My Neighbor Totoro and Ponyo. This breakdown makes sure you don’t miss a reference!
And Stevie Nicks gave Katy Perry very good advice about not seeing other women in your profession as rivals, but rather as FRIENDS.
Further developments in our weekly Beyoncé segment: Beyoncé AND Kelly Rowland crashed a private karaoke party and surprised two girls WHILE THEY WERE SINGING BEYONCÉ. The third member of the party was less surprised, as she was asleep at the time.
AND Heaven, this super-talented little dancer, got to meet Beyoncé too! Now what do I have to do to meet Beyoncé??
This Girls parody proves that kittens have serious problems, guys…like getting internet famous, you know? There’s some tough competition out there and SOMETIMES they get so excited, they vomit. Finally, what looks like a proper depiction of the reality of being a kitten in the 21st century. KITTENS!
I love this definitive ranking of all the outfits on The Baby-sitters Club covers—all 131 of them—in their terrible and awesome glory. This may be the most important study the internet has ever brought us.
Twitter often gets disparaged as being self-indulgent, but Twitter is ultimately a medium, and I believe it’s only as good or bad as the message it delivers. This week, writer Teju Cole used his feed as an experiment in storytelling, posting a tale told entirely through retweets. He enlisted in the help of a wide-ranging collection of writers, including Elif Batuman, Rob Delaney, and Ayesha A. Siddiqi to contribute a line each, which, put together, only made sense when read in a certain order. The result is a triumph of collaboration and gave me goosebumps to read. Cole explains more about the process here.
On Tuesday night, something called the National Board of Review Awards happened…somewhere. I guess L.A.? Whatever, who cares, the important thing is this SPEECH that Meryl Streep gave when she presented her friend Emma Thompson with…some award. She started out by saying, “I have a short, sweet, kind of funny version of this tribute to Emma Thompson, and I have the long, bitter, more truthful version, so I would like a vote—and I’m serious!” People (of course) voted for the long, truthful one, and this is what followed. It’s long, but worth reading in its entirety, as it is basically a Friend Crush and a feminist rant combined, with a little original verse thrown in at the end:
Some of his associates reported that Walt Disney didn’t really like women. Ward Kimball, who was one of his chief animators, one of the original “Nine Old Men,” creator of the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, Jiminy Cricket, said of Disney, “He didn’t trust women or cats.” And there is a piece of received wisdom that says that the most creative people are often odd, or irritating, eccentric, damaged, difficult. That along with enormous creativity come certain deficits in humanity, or decency. We are familiar with this trope in our business. Mozart, Van Gogh, Tarantino, Eminem… Ezra Pound said, “I have not met anyone worth a damn who was not irascible.” Well, I have: Emma Thompson.
Not only is she not irascible, she’s practically a saint. There’s something so consoling about that old trope, but Emma makes you want to kill yourself because she’s a beautiful artist, she’s a writer, she’s a thinker, she’s a living, acting conscience. Emma considers carefully what the fuck she is putting out into the culture! Emma thinks, Is this helpful? Not, Will it build my brand? Not, Will it give me billions? Not, Does this express me? Me! Me! My unique and fabulous self, into all eternity, in every universe, for all time! That’s a phrase from my Disney contract. I’m serious! Will I get a sequel out of it, or a boat? Or a perfume contract?
Ezra Pound said, “I have not met anyone worth a damn who was not irascible.” Though he would say that, because he was supposedly a hideous anti-Semite. But his poetry redeems his soul. Disney, who brought joy, arguably, to billions of people, was perhaps…or had some racist proclivities. He formed and supported an anti-Semitic industry lobbying group. And he was certainly, on the evidence of his company’s policies, a gender bigot. Here’s a letter from 1938, stating his company’s policy to a young woman named Mary Ford of Arkansas, who had made application to Disney for the training program in cartooning. And I’m going to read it here in Emma’s tribute, because I know it will tickle our honoree, as she’s also a rabid man-eating feminist like me!
Dear Miss Ford, your letter of recent date has been received in the inking and painting department for reply. Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that task is performed entirely by young men. For this reason, girls are not considered for the training school. The only work open to women consists of tracing the characters on clear celluloid sheets with India ink, and then, filling in the tracing on the reverse side with paint according to directions.
When I saw the film, I could just imagine Walt Disney’s chagrin at having to cultivate P.L. Travers’s favor for the 20 years that it took to secure the rights to her work. It must have killed him to encounter a woman, an equally disdainful and superior creature, a person dismissive of his own considerable gifts and prodigious output and imagination. But when we sit in our relative positions of importance and mutual suspicion, and we cast judgment on each other’s work, we’re bound to make small mistakes and misconstrue each other’s motives.
Which brings me to awards season. Which is really ridiculous. We have made so many beautiful movies this year, and to single out one seems unfair. And yet, it’s a great celebration, and I’m so proud to be here, in this group of artists. Nobody can swashbuckle the quick-witted riposte like Emma Thompson. She’s a writer. A real writer. And she has a writer’s relish for the well-chosen word. But some of the most sublime moments in Saving Mr. Banks are completely wordless. They live in the transitions, where P.L. traverses from her public face to her private space. I’m talking about her relentlessness when she has her verbal dim sum, and then it moves to the relaxation of her brow, when she retreats into the past. It’s her stillness. Her attentiveness to her younger self. Her perfect alive-ness. Her girlish alertness. These are qualities that Emma has, as a person. She has real access to her own tenderness, and it’s one of the most disarming things about her. She works like a stevedore, she drinks like a bloke, and she’s smart and crack and she can be withering in a smack-down of wits, but she leads with her heart. And she knows nothing is more funny than earnestness. So now, “An Ode to Emma, or What Emma Is Owed”:
We think the Brits are brittle, they think that we are mush
They are more sentimental, though we do tend to gush
Volcanoes of emotion concealed beneath that lip
Where we are prone to guzzle, they tip the cup and sip
But when eruption bubbles from nowhere near the brain
It’s seismic, granite crumbles, the heart overflows like rain
Like lava, all that feeling melts down like Oscar gold
And Emma leaves us reeling, a knockout, truth be told
Ladies and gentlemen, the entirely splendid Emma Thompson.
Here’s a bonus photo of Meryl and Emma at the awards dinner together. I am in love with this friendship! ♦