Archive for the ‘showbiz’ Category

Dear Rape Culture

December 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Dear Rape Culture: This is not “pleasure” and that scene was not “sexy”!

Anyone else skeevied out by the whole narrative of how Nick, Kalinda’s abusive (ex-?)husband in The Good Wife was trying to “pleasure” her in the ice-cream scene (see here for an example of this narrative)?

He wasn’t trying anything of the sort, people. He was raping her, assaulting her anus and hoping to get a reaction out of her. There was no consent and no expectation of her pleasure – it was just another way for him to demonstrate control over her (like he did with the eggs/omelet demand.

It’s just disturbing – and yet another example of how pervasive rape culture is – that the viewers of such an excellent show are blind to just how rape-y and abusive the scene was. It wasn’t even consensual BDSM, just plain old abuse.

Ew. I can’t wait for this guy to die or disappear from the show.


Wonder Woman! Woot!

April 13, 2009 Leave a comment

So, on a lark, P pointed me to the Wonder Woman DVD at Blockbuster last week, and we watchd the movie today, simply because we wanted the next one in quickly. I speak for both of us when I say we LOVED, LOVED the movie.

And P is impressed by Keri Russell too – but I found her interviewing (here, go to ‘NEWS’) kind of hesitant. It’s the same irritating “oh, I know I did something that could be construed as feminist/strong, but – hahaha – hey dont hold it against me! I didn’t really *giggle* mean it, y’know!“. What’s with all these women?

On the contrary, the interview with Virginia Madsen (same location: here, go to ‘NEWS’) reads like a yummy bowl of the most wholesome wholemilk chocolate ice-cream ever. See what she has to say:

QUESTION: Did you prepare for voicing the Queen of the Amazons in any special way?

VIRGINIA MADSEN: Well, I prepared this morning by writing several edicts for my son (laughs). Honestly, I love when I get to play these characters that are bigger than life. There are roles in animation that I never get to do in real life and it appeals to my ego as an actor to play the Queen of Everything (laughs) Hey, I’m honest. I admit it.

VIRGINIA MADSEN: This is a blockbuster voice cast – any thoughts on your co-stars?

VIRGINIA MADSEN: Actually, Marg Helgenberger and I were waitresses in the same restaurant in Evanston, Illinois. I’m happy to say that that restaurant has since been torn down. But Marg made it out first. We both had an audition for ABC soaps different soaps, but we auditioned at the same time, and she got the part and went off to New York. Three years later, I went to L.A. So she was kind of an inspiration to me. And it makes sense that we will both be in Wonder Woman together, because we ARE Wonder Women (laughs).

QUESTION: Is there a comic book role that your inner geek covets?

VIRGINIA MADSEN: Sadly, I really want to be Batman … and I just never will be (laughs). That’s the cross I bear. When I was growing up, the really, really cool super heroes were all male so I wanted to be them. I really didn’t like Batgirl. I was like, ‘No, if I’m not gonna be Batman, I’m not gonna play.’ Maybe they could write an evil female super villain who takes over Batman, and nobody knows. Then I could live my dream (laughs). I think that’s a good idea.

[all bolding mine, all symbols and punctuation mine]

I think that’s a great idea too, Madsen! And kudos for not settling for a side girl role. May “they” write greater and better women roles for women like you to play and for people like us to watch and fall in love with.

This movie may not yet pass the Ultimate Heroine Test, but we at least have one (B) of three qualifications met:

A movie with a strong leading woman character:

A) Whose sex life the audience is not made aware of, either its details or the fact of its existence.
B) Who is not, or has not, and will not be sexually assaulted during the narrative.
C) Who does not have a makeover.

And this is my live blog of the movie [Spoilers possibly ahead – but you’ll first need to make sense out of my notes, har har har]:
W.O.W. the origin story is simply F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C. I’m drooling at the richness of all this. It’ll take me DAYS of reading Bullfinch to unpack all of this.

why did the GUY pilot have to go onto the island? I was hoping for the black woman ‘rook’. But yay for pilots! (After doing my first stall and my first landing and my first take off today, I feel like I’m already Amelia Earhart! :-))

ummm.. with all this discussion of what to do about the stupid pilot and the outside world – even THIS movie would fail the Bedchel test!!!

wolf whistles, ‘hot chick’ – why do the Amazons allow that? And is it really something to be brushed off?

ok, I get the silly stars and stripes – but why did Diana have to wear a bikini? Thats not even remotely like what the Amazonians were/are all wearing.

And why’s PErsephone the betrayer? Because women cannot be trusted, as always? Not good.

I liked how Diana’s mom said, because men are untrustworthy….

Great move on the Etta scene, where this colleague of Steves pretends to not be able to find her pen. But it’s WONDER WOMAN being independant – so its eas to externalize.

Aha. WW actually explains the patriarchy. 🙂 Awesome stuff.

Again, is ‘hot chick’ really something to be brushed off?

WW is a great role model too – she teaches small girls to defend themselves. Poor little girl, she doesnt know that even if she’s a zillion times better at the sword fight than the boys they wont let her play or win. Ask Hillary Clinton.


This stupid pilot just sexualizes everything – every fight she wins. Is he trying to do a James Bond? And it’s a-okay – is he giving the audience permission to do so as well?

The street fight – wow. Simply awesome. Ten thousand leagues above the morass of the Watchmen street fight.

She pokes Deimos in the eye with a red stiletto. Umm, cute, but cliched. Anyway.

if only it was TWO girls fighting in the greek underworld, not Steve and Diana!

Is Ares is going to kill persephone? The sacrifice is like Voldemort’s attempt in the Goblet of Fire?
and Ares brought the statues to life – like in the Mummy. Which one thought of it first? Oh, maybe it was the Chinese a thousand years ago, with their Terra-cotta army….

So a simple stupid PILOT saves Wonder Woman from the talons of the eagle? AAARRGGGHHHH.This is Wybie all over again. I CANT WATCH!!!

she gives it back in the Ospedal. His first duty was not to save her, bt do her bidding. Men…………

At the footsteps of the Whitehouse, the battle begins.

Again Steve rescues her? Oh no, that was an arrow shot by *drumroll* THE AAAMAZOOONS!!!! YAY!

Oh, Ares can make Inferi…and like the Pirates in the Caribeean, they cant be killed. Every loss is doubled on the Amazonian side! Sister kills sister. Oh no. Oh no!

Ah, the inferi shake off their control with quick thinking by Artemis and Alexa. Oh good, so book knowledge is sometimes important too. Who were all those people criticizing WW for being yet another comic that glorifies violence – there’s a bone for ya!

Steve saves Atlantis….I kinda don’t mind at this point really. Wonder why :-).

Persephone ruins it for me by saying ‘we may be warriors, but we are women too – we need families and children’. What, and men don’t? It’s a false dichotomy, lady.

PERFECT – WW beat Ares with SCIENCE!! Though the fact that electricity is conducted in water should be basic…it’s surprising how less often media and fiction shows even this basic level of science. So TRIPLE YAY!

P: And she beats him fair and square. No black magic or sudden ‘out’s….

“I can lift cars, Steve – I can lift car door handles!” 🙂 oh, but she needs to apologize and keep his ego – and societal norms – in place? w.t.f.

Call if you’re going to be late, he says. Har har har .

Hey, when’s the next WW movie coming out?

Only in India…

March 17, 2009 Leave a comment

…can a Hindu husband and a Muslim wife together get a Jewish symbol tattooed on their forearm and no one (not even the gossip-sniffing-out journalist) blinks an eye. Awesome.

In Sultings

March 17, 2009 Leave a comment





Los Angeles


Uni-gun makers




Fat people







Black girls


Suicidal people

Depressed people


Little boys




People on tranquilizers

People who know & practice Karate


Robert Powell




Child abuse victims

Child abusers

Ticket/gate agents


Pregnant women

Small thrills

March 10, 2009 Leave a comment

Should be ‘small joys’, but the list below sent a small thrill up my leg. I remembered the first when someone was bashing all mainstream Bollywood movies, including the ones made in the last ten years (many of which I love).

  1. Usually in any Hindi movie song, the hero plays an instrument and sings along. Magically, during the song when he gets up and walks around/jiggles/dances around a tree, the instument still keeps playing on. And he plays spectacularly well, even if every thing you’ve learnt about his history so far states he had a deprived childhood with no access to education, let alone musical training. But in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, a girl plays the guitar. And not even the heroine – this is a friend who plays the guitar, not the all-knowing all-accomplished hero.
  2. In Baabul, one of the worst movies of all time w.r.t entertainment value as well as values in entertainment [1], has a scene where Hema Malini (swoon) confronts her husband when she’s not allowed to attend her son’s funeral per Hindu (north Indian) customs. woot!
  3. Aishwarya’s million-dollar expression of unabashed lust in Jodha Akbar in that scene. I wonder if too much acting was required there, but that’s another story…
    The story itself was great in terms of class-and gender-equality, in allowing a Queen, who was pretty much her Lord’s property, to have the right of self-expression and be self-willed. Coming from a filmmaker like Gowarikar who’s made fantastic movies like Lagaan and Swades but where the women were just props, I loved him for making J-A so equal. woot!
  4. The last scene in Luck By Chance with Konkana’s character dumping Farhaan’s character – and with that, her meal ticket – since he was being self-centered.
  5. Priyanka Chopra’s character in Dostana crying – not for love, for relationships, for shame, for social approval, for fear – but for a career loss (!!) when she gets passed over for a promotion. This, when a leading lady with a career was rare in the 80’s and Madhuri’s ‘computer science student’ character in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun was such big news.
  6. Konkana’s character in Amu doing the ‘search for her roots’ that’s usually the reserve of men around the world, since it is usually the man’s right and duty to carry on filial obligations and maintain/trace paternity lines.
  7. Shah Rukh and Rani’s characters together wishing for a girl child in Paheli. The movie itself was very strongly feministic, and talked about a woman’s right to choose her life partner and her destiny. It also was the rare Bollywood movie that allowed its leading characters to pick love over some random concept of family duty. And, its execution remained true to its setting and context. Excellent.
  8. Salaam Namaste: I know so many people had so many valid issues with this movie, but again, I’m grateful for small mercies. A leading lady with a career that is important to the story, earning her own money, working hard & long hours, and unconcerned about cleanliness in the house vs. her neat-freak male partner (YAAAAAYYYY!!!)
  9. Chokher Bali. The book was depressing in the extreme, and so’s the movie, because it reinforces old tropes of all women being sexual rivals of each other, no woman being worthy of your trust, widows as sexual predators, men as easy, innocent victims to manipulative women’s wiles, etc. But I liked that the movie showed a woman with a spine, even if by the end her spine, spirit and self are all crushed, even if she’s ultimately a victim of social mores and her she’s shown to have no control over her life or her destiny. Gosh, that was depressing – not sure if this still should be in this list!
  10. Dor – Both Gul Panag’s character as well as Ayesha Takia’s were feminists in their own ways. Of course, this one followed regional stereotypes, movie-making stereotypes, and may not even be a mainstream, masala Bollywood movie by most standards. And sadly, the women were strong not by themselves or ‘just because’; they were strong in their search for lost husbands or in their escape from rape, both situations that ‘allow’ for strength in women in a patriarchal context (other traditionally approved situations include saving your child from hunger/horror, fighting for your nation, nurturing your mother/family, etc.). But it was a good movie because it attempted to tell a woman’s story, at least showcase her voice. Small thrills, indeed.
  11. Aaja Nachle: the whole darn movie! The fact that Madhuri was back, and looking better and acting better and dancing better than ever. God, peeps, give this woman more movies, was positively glowing in every frame of this one. The fact that she didn’t need Akshaye to step in and help her out. The fact that she was not just a spirited fighter, she was also a master diplomat (watch the scene when she deflates the local goons gunning for her show with ‘this is so bharatiya, as opposed to a shopping mall, ji). The fact that she and her friend make up with each other (does that help the movie pass the Bedchel test?). Sadly, her counsel to Konkana when the younger girl is failing in love, to act feminine and play hard to get, was so cliched and all Rules-ey. Take it from one who did the opposite – the Rules often fail miserably, especially when your guy has a brain!
  12. Swades: The heroine does math! Long division! The numerical kind, not the family-feud variety! She does it in her head!
    And, she’s the first to declare to her boyfriend that she loves him [2]. Blub.
  13. Chak De India. Despite the fact that the film used a male authority figure and therefore reinforced traditional lines of control and leadership, despite the fact that it reinforced regional stereotypes and prejudices, despite the fact that it was marginally homophobic, despite the fact that it didn’t even examine class barriers, and despite the fact that almost all the characters save Shah Rukh’s were uni-dimensional, Chak De nevertheless was a ground-breaking movie. It showed that women could legitimately have outside interests, that women didn’t need to be either doormats or angry mis-fits, that women could play sports, that women could compete and be petty but still make up and fight/play together for the team, that women could be stunningly pretty and feminine and still be good sportspersons, that women could be conventionally ugly and ‘masculine’ and still be good sportspersons, that women could be boring-looking and still be good sportspersons, that women could legitimately express themselves with violence in public, that the various mediums of physical expression were still available to women (see this post and this one). And of course, it showed us (after Swades) that Shah Rukh Khan can actually act. Which is a feat in itself.

So, anyway, there’s my starting list. I’m sure I’ll add to this in time, too. Yay for Bollywood!

[1] sorry! 🙂

[2]Oh, and the best part – P openly gushed when her saw her do that. How I love my guy. 🙂

Watching Men

March 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Kotwal ko kaun dekhta hai? “Kotwal” ko kisne dekha?

First, in this totally play-worthy “interactive trailer” of the movie, each of the characters is represented by a symbol that you, the audience member, needs to figure out. It’s a little like the Spice Girls, manufactured personalities distilled into an idiot-proofed symbolism, but then again, the Watchmen is a graphic novel, so I have no major delusions of its profoundness like so many others seem to. Maybe for some parts of me animation is still = cartoon, and I cannot take a Tom & Jerry equivalent too seriously :-).

But anyway, once you play that trailer, see what symbols they have for each of the male characters, and compare it to the one they made for the sole female character. ****SPOILER**** They have everyday objects, like glasses or the smiley face for the other characters, and ‘girl’ for the female character. I don’t know if this means that the makers of the trailer think of women as objects, or if they picture the female form (not female genitalia, but our bodies) in Rorschach tests, or if they’re trying to say the Silk Spectre is a token female, or that the only thing that she stands for is her body, or that her superpower is her sex appeal – all of these explanations just point to some crazy reasoning or just lazy trailer design by these guys. ****SPOILER ends*****

Second, I propose a follow-up test to the Bedchel/Wallace test (read here for a great description).
To pass the Bedchel test your movie must have the following:
1) there are at least two named female characters, who
2) talk to each other about
3) something other than a man.

Corollary to that, I hope I sometime get to see a movie with a strong woman character:

A) Whose sex life I am not made aware of, either its details or the fact of its existence.
B) Who is not, or has not, and will not be sexually assaulted during the narrative.
C) Who does not have a makeover.

I’m really tired of seeing ANY independent woman’s independence having roots in some sexual assault, or in some deviancy. I’m sure there are other ways in which women characters can be made to find their voices or themselves. I’m sure there’s a range of hurdles they must cross, much like the male superhero, to be tested and prove their mettle. But if for once the hurdles were not sexual- or appearance-related, I would be very, very grateful.

I understand why they do it. For most male scriptwriters (or women who write in a predominantly male context, e.g. Farah Khan of Main Hoon Na) and the audience they wrote with in mind, this is just a natural way of viewing women.

Flowchart begins:

  • Do I want to put my penis into her? If no, then of course she’s not worth existing (see a wonderful analysis by Amrita here on female film villains). If yes:
  • Does she want my penis in her? If yes, she’s a slut but also a golden-hearted one. If no, she’s a frigid woman. Since she can be pretty much one or the other, once I establish her interest in me, I can easily go on to the rest of my story. Either way:
  • Does she want the other guy’s penis in her? If yes, she’s a slut, and just a confused, virtue-less whore. If no, she’s a wronged woman and the other guy’s the bad guy.
  • Do I get to put my penis into her or not? If no, then the other guy who does is definitely the bad guy. If yes:
  • Do I get to put my penis into her before someone else does? If yes, she is the heroine of the movie. If no, she dies or is otherwise made irrelevant before the end of the movie.
  • Flowchart ends.

What a wonderful, simple way of establishing good and bad. Almost as simple as Isha Sharvani‘s character in Luck By Chance, who establishes her character with costume colors. Who needs complex story arcs and narratives when you can use sex lives and assault tales as proxy?

For women or men who’re trying to break their characters out of a patriarchal construct, I can somewhat understand what they’re doing too. They usually show sexual assault or attempts thereof as symbolic, as the ultimate form of patriarchy, which our female protagonist needs to go through and then win over. Examples – Thelma & Louise, Bandit Queen. Of course, often the ‘winning over’ is with her life. But she’s a free woman, since she’s ‘suffered the worst’ – and she dies or goes into exile a ‘free woman’. Some really rare times, the protagonist goes through assault and/or rape, and then pays her dues again through exile or life-threatening situations as ‘punishment’ for having escaped the rape, and then is granted her life – changed, modified, somewhat incomplete – but still a life. Example: Volver.

While their attempts to face facts are admirable, what the latter category does is no different from what the former does. Everyone’s just using sex and the sexual act to define their female characters in ways it would be unthinkable to define male characters. And as much as I understand where they’re coming from, I wish someone would be creative enough to give me a kick-ass heroine with a completely mysterious, undisclosed sex life. I wish they made the heroine so kewl, so complex, so real that I couldn’t care less where she keeps her vagina.

Girlfriends, we’ve just OD’ed on TMI. Tell me about yourselves. No, not about that. Everything else. Reveal the rest of your amazing, funny, smart, resourceful, frivolous selves to us. You too, Silk Spectre I and Silk Spectre II. What were your superpowers? What gadgets did you use? Which bad guys did you destroy? What government secrets did you help protect? What is/are your obsession(s)?

Ah, the possibilities.

ECHO and Mira Nair’s film

March 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Not sure if I’ve blogged about this already, and I’m too lazy to check, but I did register my outrage elsewhere, so FTR:

Top film-makers focus on poverty, despite U.N. row

By Silvia Aloisi Silvia Aloisi – Thu Oct 23, 2:51 pm

ETROME (Reuters) – Wim Wenders and Jane Campion are two of the acclaimed
directors behind a collection of short films on the United Nations’ fight against poverty, but the U.N. agency meant to sponsor the project has pulled out of it.

“8,” which premiered at the Rome film festival on Thursday, brings together eight film-makers to illustrate the eight U.N. Millennium Development Goals, set in 2000 and aimed at halving the number of extremely poor and hungry people by 2015. Each director takes a different angle to show how poverty, climate change, lack of access to education and basic health facilities are affecting the world’s needy but also those living in the rich West. African film-maker Abderrahmane Sissako looks at an 8-year old boy being taught about the U.N. goals in a bare school in Ethiopia; actor-turned-director Gael Garcia Bernal shows a father in Iceland explaining the importance of education to his son; Campion explores the ravages of drought in Australia.Gus Van Sant, author of cult movies like “To Die For” and “Paranoid Park,” plays on the contrast between carefree American skateboarders and the dire statistics on child mortality in poor countries. Dutch-born Jan Kounen follows a pregnant woman in Amazonia desperately trying to find a doctor while another of the film’s chapters, by Argentinean-born Gaspar Noe, focuses on AIDS.

But it is Indian director Mira Nair’s take on gender equality that sparked a row with the United Nations Development Programme, which eventually withdrew its support from the project.

“AN INSULT TO ISLAM”: Nair’s short film portrays a Muslim woman living in New York who decides to leave her husband and young son because she is in love with a married man. “In April 2008, the UNDP came to us and demanded that we pull Mira Nair’s film or they would withdraw their logo from the project. They said it risked insulting Islam,” French producer Marc Oberon said after a press screening in Rome.”We decided we could not take it out, so they pulled out.”

UNDP spokesman Adam Rogers told Reuters the agency had felt Nair’s work “would get caught up in controversy.””We were afraid it would bring the wrong kind of attention to the cause of promoting gender equality,” Rogers said by phone from Geneva. He said the European Union had also backed out of the project.

Nair, in Rome to promote “8,” defended her choice, saying it was about a woman’s right to express herself. “It’s a storm in a teacup frankly. It’s not what the film deserved,” she said. “My film is inspired by a true story and was written by the person who lived that story. Freedom does not come neatly packaged. It comes with pain,” she said.”I also wanted to make the film because of the reaction in the West to any woman who lives under a hijab or a burqa. They are usually identified as women who have no rights and are submissive … which is completely untrue.”

Oberon said the UNDP had put pressure on some film festivals, including Cannes, not to screen “8,” but the UNDP denied this. Controversy aside, Wenders said he hoped the film as a whole would raise awareness about poverty, especially as the global financial crisis risks diverting aid and developments funds. “We are full of the best will, but the solution is only with governments,” the German director said, speaking in English. “(The crisis) might make some nations even less willing to fulfill what they have promised and signed. I am very much afraid that the bill will again be paid by the poorest.”

This is again one of those situations, like Aaliya Hassan’s, where discussions of intersectionality and concerns with not offending racial/communal/religious/cultural sentiments trump basic human rights for the victims, often women. Peeps, it does not matter what someone’s culture is, what a tradition says, what a set of people believe – if it is against anyone’s fundamental rights, it is bad. Simple.

Culture is allowed to flourish, rituals should be allowed to thrive, if they are (A) equal for all in degree and kind, (B) by choice: have no repercussions for choices of opt-in or opt-out, (C)humane, and (D) not hurt/harm freedoms of others who’re NOT meant to participate. That 4-way metric should be applied every time, for every one, every where. An evaluation needs to be done if you have a question on whether it is okay to do an all-night bhajan, or if (god forbid) someone’s husband passes away and she/he wants to commit Sati, or if your friendly neighbourhood Talib wants to close down a girls’ school because they teach girls ZOMG science!, or if you’re wondering whether to publish an article criticizing FGM in Palestine. Or anything else.

Culture needs to be E.C.H.O. – equal for all; free choice; humane; not impose on others. And I say this as a big, huge, curious fan of almost every ritual I’ve encountered in my life. So far.