Thursday, August 27, 2015

Evan Rachel Would Dubsmash

First we had the Haley Atwell vs. Agents of SHIELD Dubsmash wars, and it was good. And now we have Evan Rachel Wood vs. Classic Movie Lines, and it was very, very good. Yes, yes, I know e’ryone (that’s how the kids are saying it today, right?) is doing them these days. But there’s something very charming about out and proud bi actress Evan’s Dubsmashes. And they also prove how good she is at her job because, you know, acting. She has all the emotions, people. All of them.

One of my favorite things is guessing the movie some of these smashes are from. Like here:

Answer: ʎɹoʇɔɐɟ ǝʇɐןoɔoɥɔ ǝɥʇ & ǝıןɹɐɥɔ

And here:
Answer: ssǝןǝnןɔ

And again here:
Answer: sʎɐʍǝpıs

Of course, sometimes you don’t have to guess.

Hocus Pocus:

A Fish Called Wanda:

Risky Business:

Fine, this one I’m just including because of the suit:

She can also be sorta scary:

OK, a lot of scary:

But then she sings to her cat and it’s all OK:

But, seriously, get this gal on “Lip Sync Battle” immediately:

Come on, how can you not love a girl who Dubsmashes Howard Dean?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Domo Arigato, Mr. Robot

So I got into “Mr. Robot” late in the game. So late that tonight is the season finale. While binge-watching the show over the weekend I went through the cliché “roller coast of emotions.” The new series about a mad genius hacker/socially awkward malcontent named Elliott with dreams/delusions/both of saving the world is at times brilliant and at times confounding. Like at first I was confused, and then I was in love and still confused, and then I was really, really in love and confused, and then I was disappointed and confused, and then I forgave it a little and was confused.

SPOILER ALERT: I’m going to be discussing the first season plot in full. So if you don’t want to be spoiled stop reading or just don’t yell at me when you get spoiled.

I won’t lie, I figured out most of The Big Twist revealed late in the season relatively early on. Mr. Robot isn’t real, duh. He is a figment of Elliot’s troubled imagination (and also his late father). I did not, however, piece together the bit about Danielle being his sister, though in retrospect it totally makes sense.

So, it would be easy to say that “Mr. Robot” is a hodge-podge of fairly iconic films and characters. “Fight Club” comes to mind first, obviously. A bit of “American Psycho” sneaks in there. And pinch of “V for Vendetta.” Yet it manages to feel fascinating and original, even with the Tyler Durden-shaped elephant in the room.

But then, in the sixth episode, something went rather wrong. Instead of being this bold, unique look at hacker culture, millennial angst and corporate avarice, it veered into tired trope territory – particularly when it came to its portrayal of women.

In fact the whole episode felt like a big, clunky misstep. The drug dealer subplot, the damsel in distress dilemma, and – worst of all – the women in refrigerators ending. The entire episode was, to put it bluntly, unnecessary. But the writers fell back on the idea that the male leading character needed some emotional depth at the expense of one of the female characters.

Having Shayla turn up dead with her throat slip in the trunk of a car was a cheap, ugly plot device to move our hero Elliot’s story forward. Female characters aren’t just props to help bolster the male character’s agency, people. This show is better than this and, afterward, luckily bounced back admirably. So I continue to have high hopes for the finale.

Dumb sexist lemon aside, what really makes this show stand out is its smart writing and strong acting. Rami Malek is uncomfortably good as always uncomfortable Elliot. And I let out an honest-to-God squeal when I realized the actress who plays Darlene, Carly Chaikin, was Dalia Royce from “Suburgatory.” Also I can’t be the only one who thinks Portia Doubleday (who plays Angela) is a doppelganger for Amanda Seyfried, right?

For all of its strengths one of the very best things about “Mr. Robot” is its masterful use of music. From reimaginings of pop-rock classics to electro-synth beats and even classical scores, the music is a critical supporting character. Each week I anticipate what new musical wonders await. Like last week’s use of the Pixie’s “Where Is My Mind?” Fucking amazing.

So, thoughts? Are you watching. If you haven’t watched, damn, did I ruin everything for you. But, still, it’s pretty worth it.

p.s. Though, hey, where’s the lesbian character we were promised? That quick bathroom kiss does not count, guys. Nope, do better.

p.p.s. Well, damn. Real-life disturbing events have postponed the finale until next week. Nothing like the reality of how horrible things can be butting into a fictional show about how horrible things can be. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Head West, Young Rizzles

This is, quite literally, how I see every single episode. So now as we head into the (almost) summer finale tonight, please join me in watching one more time through rainbow-colored glasses. Looks like this week our Boston married couple will be headed out my way, to California. Cue Jane and Maura’s romantic stroll on the beach.

p.s. Don’t forget to catch up on the entire season with my Gayzzoli Recaps on Afterellen.

p.p.s. Oops. I could have sworn this was the finale. They're always mixing up the schedule on this show. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Political Page

Well, now. In case you haven’t already seen this clip, everyone’s favorite tiny Canadian, Ellen Page, confronted Republic presidential hopeful/professional hatemonger Ted Cruz on his support of continued LGBT discrimination. Cruz, of course, changed the subject to “liberal intolerance” and that old religious liberty canard. When Ellen astutely noted that people used the same tired excuse when defending segregation, he had nothing. Instead he did some prime-grade mansplaining to shut her down by saying, “Now I’m happy to answer your question, but not to have a back-and-forth debate.” You can practically hear the implied “little lady” after he said that.

The thing about this whole “religious freedom” defense is there is a very, very big difference when a not-for-profit church asserts its rights and when a for-profit business tries to say who it will and won’t serve based on personal beliefs. Big surprise, in Cruz’s example of the religious group he said was discriminated against and fined $5,000 for not accepting a same-sex wedding was in fact a for-profit business, not a church as he described it. Businesses have to follow the law. Businesses are not religions.

The political blossoming of Ellen Page as an LGBT activist and champion has been one of the most enjoyable things I’ve witnessed in the last few years. And it’s also an important reminder that coming out has wider implications, often including the desire to fight that much harder for our full and total equal rights.

Look, I know she is Canadian, but Ellen Page for President.

p.s. Here is another view in case the ABC video does not work for you.

Friday, August 21, 2015

My Weekend Crush

Aw, man, now I want to be at a Brandi Carlile concert. After watching her family-style video for her new song “Wherever Is Your Heart” I’m dying for a little more. And, I just realized that it has been almost exactly two years since I last saw her in concert. Too long, universe, too long. Also, goodness, how adorable is this behind-the-scenes look at Brandi, her wife, their new baby and all the rest of the traveling band? So adorable. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Catflap of Destiny

Sometimes, it’s easy t forget that six years ago the “Naomi” episode of Skins happened. And it was so damn beautiful. Naked and brave and aching and just so damn beautiful. No matter how old you were when you first feel in love, this is basically what it felt like. Scary, exciting, SCARY, EXCITING. I’d be hard pressed to think of another hour of television that better capture that universal feeling of finding that one person who makes us feel like a better person, happier, less alone, less lonely. If you haven’t experienced the beauty that is Naomily – or haven’t returned to it in the past six years – allow me to remind you. And may we all find that person to hold hands with through the catflap.

p.s. I refuse to acknowledge and will never watch the bollocky wank shite that was “Skins Fire.” So there.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

As Long As You Love Kate

I could watch an entire TV series of Kate McKinnon impersonating Justin Bieber. Heck, I’d watch an entire TV series of Kate McKinnon doing almost anything. But her Bieber is particularly superb. Like her Bieber almost makes me happy for the real Bieber – but only so she can mock him, naturally. So the release of bonus footage of Kate’s Bieber makes me even more of a Katelieber.

p.s. In case you missed the original Katelieber Calvin ads.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Once I Had a Secret Love

Fine, fine. I’m sold. I am completely, totally sold. Looks like Todd Haynes, the master of elegant repression, has done it again. The teaser trailer for his new lesbian drama “Carol” is making me swoon a little. Or maybe it’s just Cate Blanchett. It’s just all the longing, sweet heavens, all the longing. All those stolen glances. All those lingering touches. Blame it on Martha Mears' and “My Foolish Heart,” but now I simply cannot wait.

p.s. Between this and “Freeheld” perhaps we are finally getting a little payback for enduring decades of terrible lesbian movies. Perhaps.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hot for the Summer

I won’t lie, I kind of love this song. In fact, it’s my hand-down song of the summer. (But, then, my options were somewhat limited – it was this or the song where the guys yells, “Stank! Stank! Stank!” over and over again or the song where the other guy who couldn’t feel his face.) Now, granted, catchy pop confections are an admitted guilty pleasure of mine. Like, if “Toxic” comes on shuffle I will absolutely stop what I’m doing and do a little dance. It’s Britney, bitch.

But I like Demi Lovato’s “Cool for the Summer” for more than its bombastic groove and undeniable hook. I believe the kids today would call it a banger. But it’s also finally a song about sexual fluidity that doesn’t make me want to gauge my eyes out with cherry chapstick. Sure there are some surface similarities to “I Kissed a Girl” (the Katy Perry fauxmosexual extravaganza, not Jill Sobule’s superior predecessor). But unlike that song it seems to be less about flashy exhibitionism and more in the spirit of genuine sexual exploration. Some may say that is a thin line, but I would argue it is a critical one. But, well, my feelings about Ms. Perry have already been well documented in the past.

One of the things like most about “Cool for the Summer” is that it remains totally pronoun free. So then it works for whatever situation you want it to. Be it a girl or a boy or whoever makes you happy. Also, have I mentioned that it’s just damn catchy? And, you know, pretty hot.

p.s. And, in case you forgot, this is the first, best and - in my mind - only “I Kissed a Girl” worth listening to.

Friday, August 14, 2015

My Weekend Crush

Kristen Stewart may be the most reluctant movie star of all time. This may be because she is in the movies at a time when the public demands more from its stars than ever before. While Greta Garbo may have famously said, “I want to be alone,” today’s celebrities simply do not have that option. There’s a camera in every pocket, a video recorder at every fingertip. The Internet never sleeps, fandom never stops. Now, don’t worry, this is not a boo-hoo sob story for the plight of the rich and famous. Certain jobs come with certain drawbacks, and we all know that going in. Their success also comes with spectacular rewards and unparalleled privileges.

Still the thing with K-Stew is that we’ve been speculating about her sexuality publically for perhaps longer than she has been pondering it privately. When most of us first saw her as that gangly, pale tomboy in “Panic Room,” she was only 10. Now at 25, she has spent much more than half of her life in the glare of the spotlight. For us gay ladies, Kristen has been a nod-and-wink subject of conversation for years. Even if we didn’t know, we thought we knew. She just always felt like family.

So now, in perhaps her most candid interview about her personal life, Kristen has achieved possibly the perfect non-coming-out coming out statement. As she told Nylon magazine:

“Google me, I’m not hiding,” she told Nylon. “If you feel like you really want to define yourself, and you have the ability to articulate those parameters and that in itself defines you, then do it. But I am an actress, man. I live in the fucking ambiguity of this life and I love it. I don’t feel like it would be true for me to be like, ‘I’m coming out!’ No, I do a job. Until I decide that I’m starting a foundation or that I have some perspective or opinion that other people should be receiving... I don’t. I’m just a kid making movies…..

I think in three or four years, there are going to be a whole lot more people who don’t think it’s necessary to figure out if you’re gay or straight. It’s like, just do your thing.”
Her statement can be seen as inspiring or irritating – or a little bit of both – to those of us in the LGBT community. There is an undeniable desire to have more celebrities come out and say in simple terms that even a great-grandma in Idaho can understand that, “Yep, I’m gay.” There is no more ambiguity when it comes to Ellen DeGeneres or Ellen Page or all of the other famous folks not named Ellen who have come out as gay or lesbian or bisexual or trans or queer, et al. Each new person’s straight-forward declaration of self is critical to our continued progress toward full civil right. In short, coming out still matters.

So to some Kristen’s non-committal, non-labeling, non-hiding, non-coming out is a disappointment. But, in so many other ways, it’s exactly the opposite. Because I don’t know how anyone can read those comments and continue to see her as totally straight, either. And isn’t that what the gay rights movement has been fighting for all along? The right to just be ourselves – whatever that may be.

Now, I could go on and on and on about this new age of nonchalant sexual otherness. And, indeed, I already have. My Women & Hollywood column for this week is all about Kristen and the evolving politics of coming out. (So, if you’d be so kind, please take a peek and tell me what you think.)

But what I do think is however we feel about Kristen’s sexual politics, it probably says as much about us than it does about her. So when we’re unpackaging what we find problematic or laudable about her, we are also dissecting our own desire for more political capital and/or acknowledging our own projection of idealized heroism.

Just because she was in those sparkly vampire movies doesn’t mean we’re owed anything when it comes to her private life. In the end, we’re all just imperfect humans fumbling around on this crazy big blue marble trying to figure out who the fuck we are. Happy weekend, all.