Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Vacation Vixen: D'arcy Carden

Obviously my first Vacation Vixen is D’Arcy. Obviously. Her Greta became an instant lesbothrob. She seems made for that role because, and I say this with nothing but respect, hubba hubba. Am I slowly going to feature every single cast member of “A League Of Their Own” as a Vixen while I’m gone? Maybe. Probably. Just you wait and see.

p.s. Obviously I loved her as Janet in “The Good Place.” The Good Janet. The Bad Janet. The Disco Janet. That’s my not a girl, not a robot. But a helluva ballplayer.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Queering Cate

Oh my Lesbian Jesus, it is gay! Yes, we willed Cate Blanchett in another queer role into existence, ladies. Take a bow and give yourself a hand. Because Lesbian Hands are very much enter stage – or should I say orchestra pit – when Cate takes the screen in her new, what appears to be very interesting and incredibly arty and totally fruity new film.

Cate plays the fictional first female conductor the German orchestra in Berlin. You get a lot of avant-garde very Berlin-y imagery which is confusing and stark. And then there’s Cate kissing German actress Nina Hoss. And Cate possibly making eyes at “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” actress Noémie Merlant on the cello. And lots and lots and lots of ruminations on time. Also, there’s Cate in a tuxedo. Something tells me this might all end with Cate holding a naked golden man named Oscar, too.

Following the terrible Cancel Your Gays trends we’ve experienced this year, we deserve this queer women. We deserve this.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Music Monday: Stevie Edition

I watched a little of the very short-lived (and very gay) series “Gypsy” with Naomi Watts from a few years ago. She played a therapist who got a little too personal with her patient’s lives. That includes a woman she has a fling with. The show never got a second season, and I admittedly never finished its first (all that sneaking around made me so nervous). But one of the things I loved most about it was its theme. They used a slowed down version of Stevie Nicks “Gypsy.” And I have never been able to find a copy to buy/download. And, one day after not thinking about the series in years, I went into a YouTube rabbit hole and found this. You’re welcome. Happy Monday, kittens.

p.s. Now if YouTube would just allow the Lucy Lawless SNL skit as Stevie Nicks the owner of Fajita Roundup Restaurant, my Stevie collection will be complete.

Friday, August 26, 2022

My Weekend Crush

I go on vacation later next week. But in my mind, I’m already there. Also on my mind is Michelle Yeoh in this hat. In my mind, I’m also already there. Also, take this is your constant reminder that you should go watch “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” Or rewatch. Again. Happy Weekend, all.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Gender Fuck Thursday: Carmen Edition

Yes, apparently it is history week at Surrenders. So I had never heard of Carmen Amaya before a random tweet brought her and her amazing body of work to my attention. She was perhaps the world’s best flamenco dancer, male or female. Of Spanish Romani descent, she was known for wearing high-waisted pants to dance and her ferocious style of footwork. She first rose to fame in the late 1920s. And her body of work over the decades includes numerous appearances in films before her early death around age 50 in 1963 (her exact date of birth is disputed, so is her age at death – also, before you ask, everything I’ve found about her sexuality suggests she was straight, but I’m no historian so…). Still her style of dance and swagger alone makes her Gender Fuck Thursday Royalty. Now, I know all about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly. But after watching recordings of Carmen’s performances, truly everyone should know her name. This dance is from the 1944 musical “Follow the Boys” which also featured W.C. Fields, Orson Welles, The Andrew Sisters, Dinah Shore, Sophie Tucker and Marlene freaking Dietrich. Somehow, I’ve heard of all those stars. But Carmen? Yeah, not so much. Well, now we all know her name. And we’ll never forget it, or her furious feet.

ETA: Well, shit. YouTube is lighting fast at taking down even ancient copyrighted shit. But hate speech and misinformation. Ehhhh. Anyway, you can watch the dance on this Facebook link. Zuck apparently doesn’t care about copyright.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Fit for a Woman King

I don’t believe in fitspo. I like to say, quite accurately, that I only run when chased. But I do believe in ragespo. So please enjoy this minute of the cast of “The Woman King” sharing how they got jacked to play the raging Dahomey Amazons. They’re the inspiration for the all-female King’s guard in “Black Panther” and anytime Viola Davis gets to put her massive talent (and those arms) on display is a reason to celebrate for me. Though, since we’re talking about accurate history this week, it will be interesting to see how this movie threads the needle on the Kingdom of Dahomey’s participation in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. That’s the thing about history, it’s never neat and rarely tidy. Heroes are all too often also villains in other ways. (See: Fathers, Founding) But it is important to understand. And, with Viola and Gina Prince-Bythewood at the helm, hopefully both entertaining and inspirational to watch.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

TV Review: A League of Their Own

So, obviously, I love the new “A League of Their Own” series on Amazon Prime. This rebooted take on the 1992 movie makes up for a lot of sins of omission of the original, and then some. Series co-creator and star Abbi Jacobson seems like she took the whole “I’m gonna give the gays everything they want”-meme quite literally. And we are all the better for it, as is this show.

I enjoy the many callbacks to the original film, which remains iconic for its time. Indeed, the movie casts a long shadow over the new series. But instead of simply retreading the path blazed by its predecessor, the new ALOTO has chosen to shed light on what the original ignored — namely all the queer women playing in the league and the talented Black women who were denied the chance to play because of prevailing racism.

The new League is as refreshing as it feels fresh. Some of that is due to the sometimes decidedly modern dialogue and communication style (no, not the swearing – we always fucking sweared), but it doesn’t distract too much because of the joy this cast injects into every story. Yes, this is a show that actually lets people see the dominant racism/sexism/homophobia of era while also showing how oppressed people still found their happiness (in this case, baseball).

Also, it’s hard to think of another series released on a major network/streamer that cast such a high-profile straight white male lead only to completely disappear him from the screen midway through the season – (SPOILERS) never to return again. Is this heaven? No, it’s lady baseball.

Telling diverse stories always matters. But telling diverse stories that help to tell the accurate history of marginalized groups really, really matters. Part of the reason we’re where we are today is because of the whitewashing of history. Like, slavery wasn’t so bad — at least they were given food and housing for free! Like, the pilgrims were friendly with and appreciated the help of the Native Americans — and that’s why we have Thanksgiving!

We know none of that is true. Yet the battle of how we teach our often ugly history continues to rage. It’s why conservatives have whipped up a frenzy about Critical Race Theory. They’ve fought so hard against the accurate teaching of American history because they know the truth hurts their cause. And, just in case you were confused about their cause, it’s the continued supremacy of straight white men and the patriarchal power structure. You know, that old chestnut.

We’ve always had racists and sexists and homophobes among us. The history of civil rights has been the gradual process of changing hearts and minds to all people’s humanity. When you tell the truth about our history — good, bad and very, very ugly — it actually helps to change people’s minds.

All this relates to “A League of Their Own,” I swear. And that is about the all-too-predictable backlash against the new series from certain segments. You know the ones. The ones that scream “Woke!” at anything with a non-white lead or queer storylines. The ones that think casting Black people or women or queer people in previously straight white males roles is an affront to the natural order and somehow also ruining their collective childhoods.

So, of course, we had to endure the “They ruined ALOTO” whining and the negative review bombing of the series because it puts queer women and Black women front and center. Those are the people who can’t be bothered to learn accurate history, and insist anything that tries to make more people feel included is woke nonsense.

These same people show their own completely gross ignorance. Because they want us to believe that somehow no queer women played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Which, excuse me, let me laugh at that forever. Just because they weren’t necessarily out and proud doesn't mean queer women weren’t there. It means queer women were closeted because otherwise the League, fans and public would never accept them.

Seeing Carson and Max’s stories, which should be parallel, go perpendicular because of racism and homophobia is important. Equalizing their lives, yet showing the inequity of their realities is part of the critical work of dismantling white supremacy. Stories - both fictional and historical - matter because in the end stories are all we have, the ones we tell ourselves and the ones we tell about each other. How truthful we are about both makes all the difference.

What the new League is isn’t a rewriting of history, it’s a truthful retelling of hidden LGBTQ+ history. History books don’t reflect the real lives of closeted historical figures. They don’t reflect the secret queer coded world of our community. Instead, like in the original League movie, they just pretend we don’t exist. But we’ve always existed. And we’ll keep existing.

They say history is told by the victors. But history belongs to all of us, and we all deserve to see the stories of our lives reflected accurately. A League seeks to correct our omission and let us finally play ball. And I for one couldn’t be more thankful.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Music Monday: Working Girl Edition

If you remember the late 80s through a fog of aerosol hairspray and big shoulder pads like I do, you no doubt have a warm spot for Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run.” I associate it, intrinsically, with the 1988 rom-com hit “Working Girl.” Melanie Griffith. Sigourney Weaver. Joan Cusack. An endless supply of AquaNet. Like, come on. That’s beyond 80s iconic. That’s the 80s in a time capsule. And this song was so triumphant, it still lifts my spirits each time I hear it. Honestly, I have to resist the urge to stand up and cheer.

So it’s with fondness and hope that I received news of a “Working Girl” reboot produced by and starring Selena Gomez (who I absolutely adore in “Only Murders in the Building”). The original film was so specifically 80s it will be interesting to see how they reinterpret it for the 2020s. We can only hope they find a similarly rejuvenating anthem to buoy our spirits. Happy Monday, kittens.

Friday, August 19, 2022

My Weekend (RIP) Crush

When the history of LGBTQ+ civil rights is written, I hope we spare at least a weighty chapter for Anne Heche. Always a complicated figure, but also always seemingly truthful to a fault, she was the pixie-haired, live-wire half of what at one point was the most famous same-sex couple in the entire universe. And that mattered, and should always matter.

Anne’s passing last week at age 53 is a sad reminder that life can be fleeting and cruel. May her family and friends find comfort in the impact her life had on this world for the better, and let go of the messiness and ugliness of the past. (Not to dismiss allegations that she was driving recklessly under the influence, but her history of mental health issues and past traumas is well known.)

What Anne represented during the peak of her celebrity was a vulnerable, feisty, loyal and deeply talented individual who was magnetically charismatic for her simple insistence on being herself. While Ellen gets, and rightfully so, the lion’s share of pop culture credit for helping to turn public opinion toward more acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, having Anne by her side the whole time made an immeasurable difference.

It’s hard to overstate how important Ellen’s coming out and subsequent high-profile relationship with Anne Heche was back in 1997. It was Time magazine cover headline news, back when a magazine cover was a Big Fucking Deal in America. It was a seismic shift at a time when only a small handful of celebrities were out and proud. To have them both famous and fabulous together also set an example for queer people.

And, not to overshadow her cultural importance, but Anne also was a very, very good actress. While her open relationship with Ellen no doubt stymied her career, she never expressed regret or bitterness over her decision to live honestly. I still remember all the chatter about her “believability” as a straight romantic lead opposite Harrison Ford in “Six Days Seven Nights.” As if a movie with an unmentioned 27-year age difference between its leading man and lady would have no other credibility issues.

I hope Anne found peace and happiness in her life. And I hope her contribution to the ongoing struggle for equal rights for LGBTQ+ people is remembered through time. Thank you for being yourself, for better and for worse. You helped the world open its eyes to the universality of love. May her memory be a blessing to her loved ones, queer people and allies everywhere. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Twin TV

Looks like some of us will definitely be reliving our high school experiences very soon — well, minus the whole then becoming international rock stars thing. The TV show based on Tegan & Sara’s memoir by the same name (and produced by Clea DuVall) is coming to Amazon’s Freevee (in the running for worst streaming service name, in deep competition with Tubi) now has a trailer. It’s filled with all the 90s angst and closeted drama any former Gen X youth will instantly recognize. I haven’t read the memoir, so the eight-part series will be a whole new learning experience for me about the Canadian twins. But, as expected, it appears sweet lady kisses will very much be part of the experience. So, you know, I’m in. The series debuts Oct. 14. Now go figure out if you get Freevee.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Back in Black

Well, here’s something nice for a change. Krysten Ritter has been cast in a sequel series for “Orphan Black.” As impossible as it seems to replicate the brilliance of Tatiana Maslany (and Tatiana Maslany and Tatiana Maslany and Tatiana Maslany and Tatiana Maslany and…well, you get it), Krysten is a great choice to try. If you’ve seen her in “Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23” or “Jessica Jones” or really anything she’s been in you know she has a singular style that brings edge and strength and intellect to her roles. So, you know, at least it should be interesting.

No word on whether we’ll have queer clones again in this one. But given the show’s past track record on LGBTQ+ characters and relationships, there are at least some reasons to be optimistic we’ll get some sort of Science Girlfriends again. Oh Cophine, Cophine.

The new series, titled “Orphan Black: Echoes,” is set in the same world as the original series in a “new future.” According to The Hollywood Reporter it, “explores the scientific manipulation of human existence, revolves around a group of women as they weave their way into each other’s lives and embark on a thrilling journey, unraveling the mystery of their identity and uncovering a wrenching story of love and betrayal.”

Krysten’s character is called Lucy and has an “unimaginable origin story, who is trying to find her place in the world.” So, uh, she’s a clone and or some other kind of test tube creation and we’re about to get our freaky science on again. Just make it gay too and I will be rejoining the Clone Club posthaste.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Perfect (Yellow)Jacket Fit

Well, well, well. Who called that? OK, fine — everyone. Lauren Ambrose is the practically perfect choice to play adult Van on “Yellowjackets.” Also, the announcement of her casting late last week also confirms the fact that VAN LIVES! That’s right, our favorite red-headed plane crash survivor/wilderness cult member/out queer teen makes it to adulthood. The show had been coy about Van’s status up until now, while focusing other grown-up teammates of the former high school soccer stars gone feral.

Van has proven herself to be a true survivor, and possibly a cat (another truly lesbian trait) because she’s easily on life No. 3 based on the flashbacks alone. (Spoilers if you haven’t watched the first season….Life No. 1: Surviving almost being burned alive while trapped in her airline seat, Life No 2: Bear attack and face shredding.)

I have a feeling they’re going to make Van a member of the wilderness cult in current times (since she was already seemingly involved in the high school flashbacks). It will be very interesting to see the dynamic between her and her now grown-up high school girlfriend Taissa. With the (Spoilers, again) reveal that the aspiring state senator is still secretly a believer in the aforementioned wilderness cult, things should get very, very interesting.

This will also not be the first time Lauren has played gay on screen. Her “Six Feet Under” character Claire Fisher has a brief fling with a woman played by Mena Suvari. I’ve always enjoyed Lauren’s work, and well who doesn’t have a thing for ginger ladies? Welcome to the Yellowjackets Hive! Here’s hoping for a lot of weird and a lot of gay in season 2.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Music Monday: Oh My God, Becky

Fletcher, who all the lesbians apparently love. Bella Thorne, who I know is famous but I think I’m too old to understand exactly why. And a motorcycle. Don’t complicate things. Sometimes Becky’s just so hot. Happy Monday, kittens.

Friday, August 12, 2022

My Weekend Crush

Janeane Garofalo has always been a bit of a hero of mine. I’m a Gen Xer through and through, and besides Winona few actors were as Gen X as Janeane. Witty, outspoken, independent, sarcastic, intelligent and, fine, those glasses. I think more than anything she embodied my generation’s aversion to selling out. It’s a concept I understand intrinsically, down to the marrow of my 90s kid bones. Don’t be a sell out. It’s why, to this day, I’ve always refused to have ads or sponsorships on my blog. This is my safe space, where I’m never trying to sell you something. I just like it that way. We have so few commerce-free spaces in this world as it is.

Anyway, last month The New York Times ran a column about Janeane, noting how she still constantly plays dinky comedy clubs around NYC. Such contempt for commerce and capitalism seems almost unthinkable from today’s roster of YouTube/Instagram/TikTok stars. Turning yourself into a brand is just how it’s done now. It’s the influencers’ world and we’re just living in their sponsored posts.

The column is both complementary and contemptuous of Janeane’s path. Also, I don’t think they actually interviewed her. They just went to one of her small shows and then had a lot of thoughts and feelings that concluded with an “Atta Girl, But Isn’t She Also Sorta Sad” kind of way. Well, screw that. Celebrity and all the trappings of fame aren’t for everyone. And they aren’t the only signs of a successful life. Nor is your net worth. I only wish I lived on the other coast, so I could pop in sometimes to see Janeane at one of those little clubs. Not all heroes wear capes, some of them stand in front of two-drink minimum crowds and just hope they’ll laugh. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Gender Fuck Thursday: A Kate For All Season

Oh Kate, Kate. Please never stop wearing suits or chunky lesbian watches. And please never stop making prestige TV for HBO. The almost EGOT (perhaps time for a little Broadway after your TV projects, eh?), will star and produce in two more limited series for the premium channel after her “Mare of Easttown” success.

Her two planned HBO projects give us a Kate for All Seasons: Contemporary Kate and possibly Period-Piece Kate.

The first announced series, “Trust” is an adaptation of the novel by the same name about a wealthy financier who reads a novel based on his life and hires a secretary to ghostwrite a memoir because he’s upset with how he and his wife are portrayed. But the ghostwriter realizes he is trying to rewrite history — and his wife’s place in it. I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know if Kate will be playing the ghostwriter or the wife (though I kind of think the ghostwriter?).

The second project is called “The Palace.” The time period isn’t elaborated on in the announcement. But the story will ”chronicles a year inside an authoritarian regime as it begins to unravel.” I can’t tell if this will be a present-day palace or an old-timey palace what with authoritarianism being so popular across the damn ages. The series will team Kate up with acclaimed English director Stephen Frears, whose films include “The Queen,” “Victoria & Abdul” and this year’s “The Lost King.” Does someone have a monarchy kink? Just saying.

I will likely check out both these projects, as I greatly enjoyed Kate in “Mare of Easttown,” which was just an all-around acting clinic. And of course I also liked (though, goodness, they were going for grim) “Ammonite.” So I can’t wait to see her tackle both contemporary and possibly period projects for HBO again. And perhaps she could wear suits like in her Elle/Longines/fancy kinda lesbian watches photoshoot in at least one of them? You know, just a suggestion. Suits are, after all, timeless.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Be Gay, Do Revenge

Netflix giveth and, all too unfortunately, taketh away. Today they giveth. Obviously, I am going to watch “Do Revenge.” The new Netflix movie starring Stranger Things’s resident lesbian Maya Hawke and “Riverdale’s resident Veronica Camila Mendes comes out next month. But the full trailer is here now.

The dark comedy follows two high school students as they team up to, well, do revenge against the bullies who have wronged them. For Maya’s character Eleanor (yes, really Eleanor), it was being outed to the school. For Camila’s character Drea, it was the leaking of a sex tape.

Think of it as a “Strangers on a Train” scenario mixed with “Jawbreakers” and “Mean Girls” — but with sapphic undertones. Or is it overtones? Well, it’s whatever these pictures are.

So, yeah. Anyway, I’m going to watch this. And I’m going to keep watching the queer-led and female-led and POC-led content out there in the hopes that studios realize telling diverse stories isn’t just good for optics, it’s good for business.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Cancel This

Well, shit. Shit shit shit and shit. Granted, “First Kill” was not a great show. But getting axed as one of the few new shows this season on cable or streamers to center queer female characters as its stars, well, it hurts. And, honestly, it’s bullshit. THIS IS BULLSHIT.

If you’ve been paying attention to entertainment media, you’ll know we’re in the midst of The Great Diversity Purge of 2022. Do you have a show that appeals to underrepresented minorities? People of color, LGBTQ+ people, women, people who know Trump lost the election? Too bad. Would you like another show with Chris Pratt instead?

So gone are, in no particular order, “Gentleman Jack,” “Batwoman,” “The Wilds,” “The Motherland: Fort Salem,” “Legends of Tomorrow,” “Betty”... I could go on.

Part of this is new, fierce competition between the bazillion streamers out there now. And part of this is consolidation of major media companies. Indeed, the Warner Bros/Discovery merger looks to be about to tank possibly the best streamer out there, HBO Max. If they take away my “Hacks” and my “Somebody Somewhere” and my “Harley Quinn” I will cut a bitch. And, of course, by bitch, I mean rich straight white male studio executive.

Indeed, the recent purge of inclusive titles shows how shallow the efforts to bring marginalized voices into the fold often are. As soon as things start to go a little sideways, it’s bye queers and POCs and women. Don’t worry, the men are still in charge to straighten this ship, literally and figuratively, based on their perceived place at the center of the universe. I mean, again, it’s already happening at Warner/Discovery where the new boss has hired a raft of new department heads who are also white dudes just like him. Gosh, whodathunkit?

Also, what kind of a company spends $90 million on a movie with the first Latina Batgirl on screen and then just shelves it entirely and refuses to release it on any platform? Holy tax write off, Batman, I guess.

One of the nice things about the proliferation of streamers is more content has also meant more diversity. But if they are going to cut back on that kind of content then how are they different from basic/premium cable? It is simply not enough to offer a couple “diverse” shows yet give them almost no marketing or publicity and then immediately cancel them if they somehow don’t meet expectations.

In fact, the murkiness of streaming viewership data (and metrics targets that seem to change at whim) makes it hard to discern whether “First Kill” and other more diverse shows like it were actually meeting those expectations or not. Netflix told the “First Kill” showrunner Felicia D. Henderson the series did not meet “thresholds for viewing and completion of episodes.”

Yet the series made Netflix’s Top 10 for English-language TV series in its first three days, ranked No. 7 with 30.3M hours viewed. And in its first full week it shot to No. 3 with 48.8M hours viewed. During that time it was just behind “Stranger Things” and “Peaky Blinders” — two shows with zero renewal problems. But I guess 100 million hours viewed in its first four weeks simply isn’t enough for a show with queer characters and prominent POC stars. What a joke.

Real diversity efforts means providing support, promotion and time. Real diversity efforts means hiring POC, LGBTQ+, women and other marginalized people to fill the C-suites. Real diversity means giving more people from underrepresented groups a place in front and behind the camera.

I wish there was a way to swoop up all the canceled diverse shows and find them a place together. But instead they’re going to the great streaming cemetery in the sky, I guess. RIP, “First Kill.” You weren’t a perfect show. But I could have watched hot women kiss/bite each other and Elizabeth Mitchell vamp around for several more seasons, at least.

Monday, August 08, 2022

Music Monday: Under the Pink

Pink gets it. Pink definitely gets it. My wife’s longtime favorite singer (and a fav of mine as well) is back with a new music video that covers basically everything in this world that’s making you feel exhausted and/or enraged. The video goes from the early suffragettes and Civil Rights Movement leaders to Black Live Matter, the SCOTUS abortion ban, rising white nationalism, school shootings, the Jan. 6 insurrection, Fox fucking News, and more. The kids are not all right. But we’re still alive, and we’re going to keep fighting all of this bullshit for our rights. Happy Monday, kittens.

Friday, August 05, 2022

My Weekend Free BG

Well, we’ve entered worst case scenario zone in the case of Brittney Griner. In custody in Russia since Feb. 17, the WNBA superstar has been wrongfully detained away from her wife, family, friends, and country for six months already. And yesterday the Russian court handed down almost as strict a sentence as possible — giving her 9 years in prison. All for accidentally carrying a couple cannabis vape cartridges with her into Russia as she went to play off-season for her international team.

Never mind that Brittney and her family/friends have done everything they could to have her freed. Immediately following her arrest, they tried to turn down the political heat and negotiate without too much media. Then, when it was clear that wasn’t working, they went wide with their message.

Indeed Brittney actually confessed before her trial started (though, in Russian, they continue after a confession anyway). And she apologized and owned up to her mistake during the trial, asking for leniency from the judge. But instead, Russia is now using her as an obvious political pawn.

While initially their response has been slow, I do think the Biden Administration has been more aggressively tracking her case. President Biden issued a statement almost immediately yesterday condemning the verdict and sentence. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has made a “substantial proposal” for a prisoner swap. Reporting suggests the deal could include Brittney and fellow American Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned in Russia since 2018 and was sentenced to 16 years in a labor camp for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

As much as I’d rather not have an international merchant of death set free, these Americans need to come home. Period.

Russia is clearly making an example of Brittney. Here is a wildly successful Black and queer female athlete at the top of her game who is married to a woman and presents more masculine. The Russian government is vehemently anti-LGBTQ+, and public displays of queer activism, solidarity or just love are actively quashed. So of course, of course they’ve given Brittney the harshest sentence possible. We can only hope it is for leverage for an inevitable prisoner swap.

The fact is, if the United States and WNBA valued female athletes and paid them similarly to their male counterparts, she wouldn’t even have to be in Russia or to play for a foreign team off-season.

It’s hard to overstate how big a star Brittney is in women’s basketball. NCAA champion. No. 1 draft pick. WNBA champion. Eight-time All-Star (she was named an honorary All-Star this year). Two-time Olympic gold medalist. This is rarified air for any athlete, male or female.

Yet her detention in Russia continues to drag on without much public outcry, aside from queer women everywhere and WNBA fans and her family. Her wife, Cherelle Griner, has clearly been very vocal. Megan Rapinoe, whose fiancée Sue Bird is herself a huge WNBA star, wore Brittney’s initials embroidered on her suit’s lapel when she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom this month from President Biden. And some NBA stars have also spoken out — a little.

And as frustrating as that is, the grossest part of her detention and now conviction is that American conservatives are cheering it on. I’ve seen the jokes and memes from Right Wing trolls about her deserving what she gets and other even less charitable (and obviously more racist and homophobic) characterizations. And that The Orange Stain weighed in to call Brittney “spoiled.” In case you need a reminder, the U.S. Right Wing and Russian authoritarian ideologies are in disgusting lock step. Empathy is simply not a conservative value.

I can’t imagine the anguish her wife feels, her family feels, her friends feel. I just know more people need to be demanding her release, and at every opportunity. Brittney, for her part, has apologized to the family, team and wife for what she calls an “honest mistake,” and told the court her hopes its ruling “does not end my life.”

God, I hope not either. Keep the pressure on. Keep the faith. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. And, once more with feeling, free Brittney Griner. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Gender Fuck Thursday: Tar-ing Cate

When I first heard Cate Blanchett was going to play a pioneering female conductor, I was intrigued. When I then realized Cate Blanchett playing a pioneering female conductor meant lots of scenes of Cate Blanchett wearing a tuxedo I made a sound imperceptible to humans. Cate in tuxedos. CATE IN TUXEDOS. This is not a drill. Do we have time to deploy the Lesbian Bat Signal?

The new film from writer-director Todd Field follows Cate as fictional female composer/conductor Lydia Tár, the first female chief conductor of the German orchestra in Berlin during the lead-up to the recording of her latest symphony. It’s called, appropriately, “Tár.” And maybe also covers the pandemic? And smoking? Also, there are tuxedos. I don’t know much more about the plot because there isn’t much more out there. But I do know “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” star Noémie Merlant co-stars (she played the painter, in case you forgot).

So, you know, two actresses who have been lauded for playing lesbians in other films should maybe play lesbians here as well. Conductors are famous for their dexterous hands. Lesbians are famous for their dexterous hands. Just a suggestion.

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Buffy Like the Wolf

I mean, she was pretty friendly with at least one werewolf in Sunnydale (and a witch or two for good measure). Sarah Michelle Gellar is returning to her supernatural TV roots in the spinoff series to MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” “Wolf Pack.” The series will stream on Paramount+, and has begun shooting in Atlanta.

SMG’s return to the sci-fi/fantasy comes in a spinoff series from the “Teen Wolf” creators, and she will also executive produce because Get That Cash, Queen Slayer.

According to Deadline, the series follows a teenage boy and girl whose “lives are forever changed when a California wildfire awakens a terrifying supernatural creature.”

SMG will play an arson investigator who is, “a highly regarded expert in her field and no stranger to personal loss, brought in by authorities to catch the teenage arsonist who started a massive wildfire which may have also led to the reawakening of a supernatural predator terrorizing Los Angeles.”

Oh, good. I kind of hate when the stars of my twenties become just the head-shaking parents in new teen shows. Speaking of which, she joins a cast of a lot of young people I’ve never heard of (i.e. Armani Jackson and Bella Shepard are the show’s teen stars along with two 20-something with three names each, Chloe Rose Robertson and Tyler Lawrence Gray). I’ve never watched “Teen Wolf” because I’m closer to the AARP demographic than that show’s demographic, but still plan to check it out.

Out of loyalty I’ve at least tried many of SMG’s post-Buffy curriculum vitae. I really tried with “The Ringer” and I actually was starting to like “The Crazy Ones,” but alas. So I’m interested to see what this new, hairy show adds to her legacy. Let’s see if she alone can stand against the vampires werewolves, the demons and the forces of darkness. And, possibly, also wildfires. Go get ‘em, Smokey, err, MSG.

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Resident Lesbian

So I unfortunately cannot truly recommend Netflix’s new “Resident Evil” series. But I also watched every single episode of Netflix’s new “Resident Evil” series in the span of basically a weekend. So do with that what you will. While I appreciate the series is less wham-bam action and mutant zombies/zombie creatures attacking all the time (though there’s a particularly terrifying zombie spider that no one should ever talk to me about), the series is actually a little slow — especially in the beginning.

What I can recommend, however, is how bonkers the show becomes toward the end of its inaugural season. So bonkers in fact that I’m even really sure if I’m still rooting for anyone in particular to win out. Maybe, honestly, just the zombie creatures. Like, uh, it’s not their fault they’re like this. But I digress.

I’ve also kind of oddly enjoyed the show’s supposed Big Bad, Umbrella Corporation CEO/power lesbian Evelyn Marcus. Yes, the show made their only (so far at least) main character lesbian the villain and, honestly I’m not furious about it. Granted, I’m still not sure we’ve reached the point where LGBTQ+ characters have reached enough equity to allow the social implications of our depiction as evil. But, somehow, “Resident Evil” making Evelyn the bad guy doesn’t feel exploitative.

Let me elaborate. One, her lesbianism isn’t the source of her villainy. In fact, her lesbianism is the one aspect that actually humanizes her as a character and makes her less of a Evil CEO cardboard cutout. Like, they show her doing goat yoga with her wife (oh yeah, she’s married to a perfectly lovely woman named Diana and they have a teenage son). And you want their relationship to be happy, you really do.

Another reason this depiction isn’t as problematic is, well, everyone in this show is kind of unlikeable. (Except maybe Bert, but no spoilers so no explanation…) The twin sisters who are essentially its stars? Both kinda annoying in their own way, especially Adult Jade (played by Ella Balinska, who is still pretty good as a blood-covered action star working with some subpar material). Her character is our hero but can’t stop doing Really Dumb Things, like constantly.

What I did like about the series is its attempts at post-apocalyptic world building and decision to focus more on the science of the Resident Evil zombies than any of the franchise’s big screen adaptations. (Truly, those were just about letting Milla Jovovich look cool and kick ass — sometimes with Michelle Rodriguez and/or Ali Lautner — while trying to escape increasingly complicated mutant zombie obstacle courses/shooting ranges, which I unashamedly appreciate.)

Sure, the science is still confusing and unnecessarily complicated (I hope they’re coming to a comprehendible conclusion about what the T-Virus is and isn’t capable of doing because right now it seems like “everything” is the answer). But at least they’re focusing on finding some sort of cure as opposed to the movies where the end goal was mostly Blow Shit Up. (Again, I watched all SIX of Milla’s films, despite most of them being ridiculous trash or possibly for that reason.)

Anyway, back to our Resident Lesbian. Evelyn is played with great glee and gleaming teeth by Paola Núñez. She’s quite good with what little character development they give her (again, no one’s character has been fleshed out too deeply, it’s that kind of show). And, best of all, she’s fun to watch. Like, you know how on some shows you kind of root for the bad guy because the chaos is more fun? I’m not exactly rooting for Evelyn. But I like having her around to liven up the place. And her power suits, I love her power suits.

There’s a really smart idea underneath the gore and the craziness of the “Resident Evil” concept. Corporations created a humanity-ending product and continue to push that product as the world ends around them. This does not seem too far-fetched, honestly. I mean, has anyone checked the climate lately? Seems to be changing, and not in a good way. But gotta keep those shareholders happy, so oh well.

In the end, I appreciate the “Resident Evil” series for centering its strong (though sometimes confounding) female characters and infusing more diversity into its post-apocalyptic landscape. And now I’ll see if we get more Resident Lesbian if the show gets a second season. And hopefully also a Resident Lebian Hero? We can only hope. Just, I beg you, no more zombie spiders.

Monday, August 01, 2022

Music Monday: Dolly Does Elvis

Here is Dolly Parton performing “All Shook Up” as a female Elvis Presley back in 1983. No other notes. Just enjoy. Happy Monday, kittens.