Thursday, April 24, 2014

Little Orphan Upping the Ante

You know what we haven’t talked about yet? The “Orphan Black” premiere. I think it is because I still haven’t truly processed my thoughts past, “HOLY SHIT.” Which I believe is where they might stay up to and including this coming Saturday’s episode. Oh, who are we kidding – probably the whole season.

Once again, utterly unsurprisingly, Tatiana Maslany is spectacular. How she makes playing so many characters – and those same characters pretending to be other characters – seem so effortless is one of the great mysteries of our universe.

But what is really intriguing this season is not only the great mystery – like, um, what’s up with all the clones? – but the ramifications of the mystery. So hats off to those clever writers who have found a way to weave the real-life Supreme Court decision last year on human gene patents into their ever more intricate plotlines.

Those deeper, darker consequences of cloning – human copyrights, free will, corporate greed – are entwining like an infinite double helix of intrigue. Yeah, yeah – see what I did there? But, to get down to the nucleus of what makes this show so great is its ability to make us gasp. Like, SPOILER ALERT, DUH, how in the hell expected Helena to make it? I sure didn’t. Yet there she is, alive if leaky, and I did not see it coming even a little.

Also, come on, Sarah in Cosima cosplay kissing Delphine? What other show on television right now gives you that kind of mid freak? And – while I loved seeing the recognition in Delphine’s face that the Cosima before her was not the Cosima she loves – I still don’t know whether to trust her heart.

This season, kittens, this damn season.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

She put a ring on it

What a difference a year and three months makes. After her somewhat rambling and long-in-the-coming out speech at the Golden Globes in January 2013 where she declared herself several things including the she was 1) Fifty!, 2) Had done her coming out a thousand years ago in the stone age, and 3) Single, Jodie Foster is now a married woman. E! Online confirmed today that the Jodie wed her girlfriend, Alexandra Hedison, over the weekend.

First things first: MAZEL TOV, YOU BIG GAYMOS!

Second things second: I really hope they got married in sensible shoes and capris, like the photo E! used of them together. Barring that, it had better have been impeccably tailored Armani suits. Yum.

Third things next: Wow. You know, back in the slightly more recent stone age when Jodie’s orientation was an open secret, but still never acknowledged to the masses, I would have never guessed that this most private of stars would have made the most public of declarations. But that’s the funny thing about time and progress and change. It happens, whether you expect it or not. Also, isn’t it wonderful that (assuming they were married in California, though New York works too) their marriage will be recognized by the federal government? Yes, yes it is wonderful.

I really couldn’t be happier for Jodie and Alex. Those of you who have been around here a while know she is my oldest and most persistent crush. So her happiness makes me happy. And nothing speaks to the eternal hope for the future than declaring “I do” to the person you want to spend forever with. I will refrain from making the obligatory U-Haul joke about them having publicly dated less than a year before tying the knot and just wish all the best to the happy couple.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Using the R Word

Consent is such a simple concept. Mother may I? Yes, you may. But in our culture, both in real-life and mass entertainment, the notion of consent and its importance too often blurs. So now, those blurred lines (thanks, or more like no thanks, Robin Thicke) become the norm.

Spoiler Alert: This is the part where I warn you about my intent to throwdown about the shit that went down Sunday on “Game of Thrones.” This is also your trigger warning. So, now that everyone is properly warned…

Let’s talk about how we have come to a place where we are even having a debate about whether Jaime rapes his sister Cersei in Sunday’s “Game of Thrones.” Let me go on record stating the obvious. YES, THAT WAS RAPE.

Lest you think I’m an idiot for stating said obvious, let me reference “Game of Thrones” director Alex Graves who said this of the scene in question to HitFix:

“Well, it becomes consensual by the end, because anything for them ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle. Nobody really wanted to talk about what was going on between the two characters, so we had a rehearsal that was a blocking rehearsal. And it was very much about the earlier part with Charles (Dance) and the gentle verbal kidnapping of Cersei's last living son. Nikolaj came in and we just went through one physical progression and digression of what they went through, but also how to do it with only one hand, because it was Nikolaj. By the time you do that and you walk through it, the actors feel comfortable going home to think about it. The only other thing I did was that ordinarily, you rehearse the night before, and I wanted to rehearse that scene four days before, so that we could think about everything. And it worked out really well. That's one of my favorite scenes I've ever done.”
There’s a lot going on in his comments about the scene. But the key part is this:
“Well, it becomes consensual by the end.”
If you saw the scene in question, there can be no question that it was unequivocally NOT “consensual by the end.” And, YES, THAT WAS RAPE. But by all means let’s perpetuate the idea that any man can magically turn a “no,” into a “yes.” She may not have wanted it at first, but hubba hubba and all that fucking crap.

And then the director doubled-down on the “consensual by the end” statement by saying to Vulture:
“It’s my cut of the scene. The consensual part of it was that she wraps her legs around him, and she’s holding on to the table, clearly not to escape but to get some grounding in what’s going on. And also, the other thing that I think is clear before they hit the ground is she starts to make out with him. The big things to us that were so important, and that hopefully were not missed, is that before he rips her undergarment, she’s way into kissing him back. She’s kissing him aplenty.”
Wow, really? Because I saw a woman saying “no” repeatedly while resisting only to be told “I don’t care” what you want by the man.

Now, admittedly, I have not read the books. But I have read this particular excerpt and in the book it, indeed, is clear that while there are some protestations there is also ultimately consent from Cersei before it happens. To quote Cersei in the book:
“Hurry,” she was whispering now, “quickly, quickly, now, do it now, do me now. Jaime Jaime Jaime.” Her hands helped guide him. “Yes,” Cersei said as he thrust, “my brother, sweet brother, yes, like that, yes, I have you, you’re home now, you’re home now, you’re home.”
Yes, the scene is still disturbing, but OK – that sounds like consent.

Compare that to what we saw on TV. This is the exact transcript of the end of their scene on TV:
Cersei: “It’s not right. It’s not right. It’s not right.”
Jaime: “I don’t care. I don’t care.”
Cersei: [Weeping noises.] Don’t. Don’t. [More weeping noises.]
Look, my intent here is not to shame this director for blurring the lines of consent. Instead it is to point out how much we have accepted that blur in our lives. Why is it so hard to just say, YES, THAT WAS RAPE?
  • A man forced himself on a woman. YES, THAT WAS RAPE.
  • The man and woman have had consensual sex in the past. Doesn’t matter, YES, THAT WAS RAPE.
  • The woman is a bitch and horrible person anyway. So what, YES, THAT WAS RAPE.
Instead we parse the particulars and make excuses and look for ways to make what we would otherwise have to view of absolutely amoral a mutual experience.

There can be scenes of rape and sexual assault on television that serve a (terrible) purpose. I am not against the depiction of all sexual violence on screen (though, perhaps we could do it a little bit less raping, eh?) But let’s be honest about what we are seeing.

Here’s the thing. When we blur the lines in entertainment, we create a world where it is easier to blur the lines in real life. This is rape culture, and it’s wrong. Am I saying “Game of Thrones” is causing people to get raped? No, don’t be silly. Am I saying continued representation of rape as something other than rape (and therefore debatable or excusable or – worst case scenario – the norm) makes us as a society more likely to allow this sort of behavior from high school football stars or world-famous fashion photographers or directors of critically acclaimed movies.

To tackle a real problem we have to speak the same language. YES, THAT WAS RAPE. It’s really that simple.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Will the real Alex Vause please stand up

So last week news broke about The Real Alex Vause. The character is based on the character in Piper Kermann’s memoir by the same name. And, of course, real life and television life diverge in predictable (and unpredictable) ways. Vanity Fair ran the first interview with The Real Alex Vause, a.k.a. Catherine Cleary Wolters (who goes by Cleary). It will come as no surprise that she doesn’t look much like Laura Prepon. But, come on, who does? Though, they do both wear dark-rimmed clunky glasses. So, there’s that.

Other key differences Cleary/Alex claims from as seen on teevee. 1) They didn’t have sex in prison. (At least with each other.) 2) She didn’t seduce her into running drugs. (That happened before they were an item.) 3) She was not Piper’s first nor last lady. (I’d like to request we see this dramatized in flashback, please.) 4. She wasn’t the only one to snitch. (She says they all snitched on each other simultaneously.) 5. They were never girlfriends. (To which real-life Piper responded with an, “O’RLY?”)

But you know what, I don’t particularly care that real-life and Litchfield-life aren’t accurate reflections of each other. (Though, it should be noted I care slightly more if Kermann’s written memoir and Cleary’s recollection of history are at odds.) I have always taken the Netflix creation as a work of fiction only loosely based on some form of fact. What I care about instead is the world these characters create together. The heady chemistry on this show and potent cocktail of personalities is what makes “Orange Is the New Black” undeniably watchable. I am not in it for a history lesson. Though I do appreciate the tips on how to make duct-tape shower shoes.

And what makes me most happy is this is a piece of entertainment created by women, based on a woman’s work and featuring women – women of all colors and shapes and ages and experiences. It sounds trite to say it, because it is said so much it sounds almost glib, but we absolutely do not see enough of that in our mainstream entertainment. Yet no one blinks an eye at the proliferation of male-created and centered narratives. And don’t even get me started on race.

Never mind, do. Because while we’re peripherally on the subject of who gets to tell narratives and what is considered the “default,” can we have an aside to discuss the idiotic thing one of the co-writers of “Noah” told a Christian website recently about why there are no people of color in the film? Because this is what he said:

From the beginning, we were concerned about casting, the issue of race. What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn’t matter. They’re supposed to be stand-ins for all people. Either you end up with a Bennetton ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise. You either try to put everything in there, which just calls attention to it, or you just say, “Let’s make that not a factor, because we’re trying to deal with everyman.” Looking at this story through that kind of lens is the same as saying, “Would the ark float and is it big enough to get all the species in there?” That’s irrelevant to the questions because the questions are operating on a different plane than that; they’re operating on the mythical plane.
So, let’s boil this down. If you have a cast of all-white actors, race doesn’t matter. White people are a stand in for all people. Let’s not get distracted by diversity. Because if you cast a multi-ethnic cast, whoa nelly, that’s where problems begin.

I could write a long, and reasoned response to why this kind of thinking is so harmful to accurate racial representation in our media. But instead I’ll just say, fuck you. FUCK YOU.

OK, this is wildly off topic. But this is how my brain bangs around sometimes.

In short. I enjoy “Orange Is the New Black” for a multitude of reasons that have nothing to do with reality and everything to do with the richness of the stories being told and the people who get to portray them.

Also, as Cleary herself admits, “who doesn’t want to see Donna from That ’70s Show have lesbian sex?” Who, indeed.

p.s. More very good news on that front. If OITNB comes back for a third season, Prepon will return full-time as a series regular instead of her four-episode appearance in Season 2. Glory, glory hallelujah.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My Weekend Crush

Every inmate dance now. If by some chance yesterday you didn’t see the first full trailer for Season 2 of “Orange Is the New Black,” I envy you the momentary anticipation before you click the play button right now. If you have already watched it, multiple times, like me I don’t envy you the burning agony of knowing how far away June 6 is. Having viewed the clip many (many, many, many) times, I have a few key thoughts.

1. Damn, Piper.

Time in the SHU has left our girl a changed woman.

2. Dayum, Vee.

Hot damn, am I excited for a new badass to make things interesting.

3. Aw, damn, Alex.

So far the split-second shot of Alex looks to be in flashback.

Netflix also released some new production stills from the season. Looks like the shot of Piper and Alex is from the same scene in the trailer.

(You can check out some more of the images here.)

Oh, and here’s a little tease from the cast. As with the show, there’s too much Larry. Dammit, June 6 is also too far away. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

May the odds be ever in Lauren's favor

So, Lauren made it to the finals of the AfterEllen Hunger Games. It has been a long, long, crazy path. But, if you still have a few more voting clicks left in you, please send Zoie Palmer Army on to glorious victory. Why? Like you have to ask.

Why Lauren? The real question is, why not Lauren? Dr. Lauren Lewis is a human in a Fae world. A doctor and an activist. A lover and a fighter. Also, don’t get me started on her incredibly Hotpants. She may not have the sheer brawn or the super powers or the sharp teeth as some of her now vanquished Hunger Games competitors. But she makes up all for it with smarts. Damn, is she smart. So smart she can turn the supernatural into mere mortals. She knows all she needs is a level playing field to win any fight. Stronger than her? Not pumped pull of junk-melting STDs, you aren’t. Bigger than her? Please, nothing is bigger than Dr. Lauren Lewis’ brain. The woman has science on her side. Also, her Magical Vagina. Those odds, well, you just can’t beat.

And if that doesn’t convince you, there are always boobs.

Vote for Lauren here. You can vote every hour until 5 p.m. EST Friday.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Endgame. Endgame. Endgame.

Fine, you win, “Glee.” I will watch for endgame. I will watch because of Brittana. I will watch to see their endgame. Are you happy now? ARE YOU HAPPY? Damn you.

p.s. I reserve the right to change my mind if the so-called endgame sucks, per usual.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tie Me Up, Taxes Me Down Tuesday

I remain convinces that Ellen Page came out so she could wear ties on the red carpet. KIDDING! It’s a joke. I love that tiny Canadian. Her coming out was a courageous personal choice and not a shallow sartorial choice. Also, she totally wore ties before, too. Like, a bunch. Really. Sure, not three ties in three consecutive public appearances. But, you know, still. Anyway. Since today is tax day in the U.S., I thought I’d make your day a little less tiring by showcasing some more of the Other Ellen in her favorite neckwear of later. May Tie Tuesday tie you into fewer knots because of all those numbers and boxes and 1040/1099/4868 forms. Now, off to find my damn receipts.

Academy Awards

GLAAD Awards

MTV Movie Awards

Monday, April 14, 2014

Save the experimental evolutionary developmental biologist, save the world

You wait and you wait and you wait and you almost forget what you were waiting for. Almost. And then, BOOM, it is back. They are back. Tatiana Maslany is back (back, back, back, back, back, back…and apparently back). When last we saw her (and all her incarnations) it was early June. That’s a long time to stew in the delicious clonespiracy. But what I hadn’t forgotten is how much I love Cosima. And, evil as it is on their parts, how much I care about her illness. Terribly brilliant, that move – with emphasis on the terrible part. Though if it means lots of scenes of Delphine nursing Cosima her little puppy back to health, I can accept it. Oh, Saturday, get here faster.

p.s. Last Monday I thought the show was coming back that Saturday. And when I realized I had an extra week to wait I had a tiny mental breakdown. Six. More. Days.

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Weekend Crush

So yesterday someone threw a shoe at Hillary Clinton while she was giving a speech in Las Vegas. She wasn’t hurt, or hit, and the offending hurler was promptly arrested. But afterward our former Secretary of State and current Coolest Lady on the Planet was quick with a joke. And, kittens, what a joke it was.

“Thank goodness she didn’t play softball like I did.”

That’s right, suckers, our future President of the United States played softball. I feel like this is important information I should have already know. I feel like a little bit less of a lesbian for not knowing it. But now that I know, I will cherish this information forever. Man, do I want this lady to be the leader of the free world. I am so ready for Hillary. Happy weekend, all.