Movie Review: Mudbound

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Mudbound * 2017 * Rated R * 2 Hours 15 Minutes

😸😸😸😸😸 Rated 5/5 happy lap cats

Spoiler Free:

Mudbound is a family saga of life in the 1940s Mississippi Delta for two farming families. One family is made up of hereditary black sharecroppers descended from former slaves. The other is a white family of former landowners and slaveowners who’ve fallen on hard times. They’ve bought land in Mississippi hoping to reestablish their wealth. The families become intertwined as their lives intersect and affect each other over the years, until a tragedy changes everything.

Mudbound was directed by Dee Rees, who also wrote the script with Virgil Williams, adapted from the book of the same name by Hillary Jordan. It’s been nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Original Song for Mighty River, sung over the closing credits by Mary J Blige; Best Supporting Actress for Mary J Blige, who plays Florence Jackson, wife and mother of the Jackson family; and Best Cinematography for Rachel Morrison, the first woman to ever be nominated for this award.

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Metawitches Guidelines for Spotting Misogyny vs Female Equality in Entertainment and Media

This is the basic list of questions we ask ourselves while consuming media to help us determine if we’re seeing women being treated fairly or not. It’s not a yes or no checklist, or an easy, one sentence test, like the Bechdel test. But then, Alison Bechdel never meant for her test to become a widely used standardized instrument. This test requires some thinking about what you’re viewing. Misogyny is often subtle, and it’s pervasive. It’s easy to miss with one, casual viewing, but the message still gets into our heads and affects us.

That’s why these are guidelines, rather than a test. Some of these answers will be subjective, and reasonable people can disagree. We’re talking about art and the interpretation of art, after all. It also takes practice to start seeing things like camera angles and positioning, rather than letting it fly by. Hardly any of us can always spot gaslighting, especially when it’s being done by the writers and producers instead of the characters. These guidelines are just aspects of entertainment to keep in mind while viewing, to become more aware of what you’re seeing.

I (Metacrone) started working on this list in the late 80s, and it’s slowly grown. It’s still a work in progress, just like the entertainment industry. There are very few works that would pass every question with flying colors. Figure out how much you can live with watching, and the level that makes you take action. It’s okay to just watch and enjoy the show sometimes without feeling guilty, too. But, the more you can recognize the issues with entertainment and speak out, even if it’s only to one person, the more of an effect we all have on the entertainment industry.

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Movie Review: Wind River

 

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Wind River * 2017 * Rated R * 1 Hour 47 Minutes

I have very mixed feelings about Wind River. On the one hand, it’s beautifully made, starring a talented group of some of my favorite actors, and tells a compelling story. On the other hand, the story is about the epidemic of sexual assault and violence against Native American women, yet the voices of these women are hardly heard. The story is told from an overwhelmingly male point of view, and the two main characters are white.

Wind River takes place on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Jeremy Renner plays Cory Lambert, a US Fish and Wildlife Service hunter and tracker who works on the reservation. His ex-wife, with whom he has a son, is a Native American from the reservation. They also had a teenage daughter who died mysteriously three years prior to the movie.

As he’s hunting a mountain lion that’s teaching her cubs to hunt livestock, Cory tracks bloody human footprints in the snow to the body of 18 year old Native American woman Natalie Hanson. Natalie was the best friend of Cory’s daughter Emily, so he recognizes the body, and reports her death to the tribal police, headed by Graham Greene as Ben.

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We Take a Break from Our Normal Programming for an Important PSA from Samantha Bee about Sexual Harassment [Updated]

Important News for Men

Anyone who has actually listened to actresses and other women in the entertainment industry knows that the sexual harassment that’s currently creating a scandal in Hollywood and (hopefully) ending careers of powerful executives has been going on since the film and music industries began in the early 20th century.

BUT MEN DON’T GET IT.

10/20/17: There have been several new developments in this story. More after the jump.

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We Take a Break from Our Normal Programming for an Important PSA from Samantha Bee

Important News for Men

Anyone who has actually listened to actresses and other women in the entertainment industry knows that the sexual harassment that’s currently creating a scandal in Hollywood and (hopefully) ending careers of powerful executives has been going on since the film and music industries began in the early 20th century.

BUT MEN DON’T GET IT.

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More on GYNX the Play

 

 

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A homeless teen lesbian, a prostituted girl, an underground
abortionist, and a child porn survivor are recruited into
a rapist castration plot by a mysterious woman named
Gynx. Men go into hiding, and their operation makes global
headlines. But when Gynx’s true motives are revealed,
the group is forced to question whether
they are truly on the side of justice.

We had notes that we didn’t have room for in our review of GYNX by Alicen Grey, so, in the spirit of an “outtakes” post, here are some more thoughts on the play:

In some ways, the play reminds me of Disgraced, the 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play by Ayad Akhtar about the dehumanization of Muslim men in America. Disgraced showed us that stereotyping and racism can lead to the exact dangers that the dominant culture is afraid of. Its characters were realistic people, but they were also stereotypes and symbols. GYNX uses the same method with its characters and story.

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GYNX the Play the Review

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Last week, Metamaiden and I traveled to Denver to see the new Disney musical adaptation of the animated movie Frozen. It was, shall we say, a less than completely positive experience. But, I’ve written thousands of words about that already. In my last post about it, I wrote that I was going to support a feminist off-Broadway play to offset my inadvertent support of what Disney had done to Frozen. GYNX is that play.

Alicen Grey, playwright and producer of GYNX, saw my post, and offered us a recording of their opening night performance. So, Metamaiden and I sat down in Albuquerque on the afternoon of Sunday, 8/27/17, and watched this radical feminist theatre revelation while the final performance of its current run was happening in NYC. It was playing at the Hudson Guild Theater as part of the 2017 NY Summerfest. GYNX is also a Semi-Finalist in the MultiStages 2017 New Works Contest, and it’s not hard to see why.

GYNX was everything I hoped it would be, and more. I felt like Alicen had lived my life, and was seeking my revenge. The play is powerful, haunting and cathartic all at once. It’s impossible to be unaffected by it. It ends with a question that you’ll think about for a long time, if you aren’t already thinking about it.

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Why, What Have You Heard?

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Look! A photo of Elizabeth Cady Stanton when she was young and hot. Now modern people, used to judging people based on their dress size, will be able to take her seriously.

This week’s episode of the Washington Post series Constitutional is titled Gender.* It’s hosted by Lillian Cunningham, with guests Library of Congress historian Julie Miller and Feminist Majority Foundation president Ellie Smeal.  This episode traces the fight to have women recognized by the US Constitution, allowed to vote, and then to be recognized as equal to men. It’s an excellent episode, informative and interesting, with some very early history that I had no idea existed. I encourage you all to listen to the podcast or read the transcript.

But the commenters also feel the need to critique the early suffragettes’ looks and fashion choices, which, to be fair, is a standard part of the discussion when the suffragettes come up. But, really? Do we mock Abraham Lincoln’s and Ulysses S. Grant’s looks and weight every time they come up? As female professionals, couldn’t these podcasters have taken a different approach?

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Why I Think “Ghost in the Shell” Is Racist As F*ck, But I’m Still Planning To See It

ScarJo in Ghost in the Shell

Since I heard about the extremely controversial casting of Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell,” I’ve been about as enraged by it as anyone. At first, I resolved not to see the film in protest. As a woman, I understand how meaningful it can be to see yourself represented in mainstream media. It makes you feel seen and accepted by your society, your people. It makes you feel like an equal and someone who matters. And as a lover of women in general, I don’t want to see any kind of woman shut out of our culture’s media. Every kind of woman, no matter what she looks like or how old she is or where she comes from or who she’s attracted to or what she believes in, deserves recognition and acceptance.

The film is nauseatingly racist. In addition to the blatant racism of casting a white woman in an originally Asian female role, it reportedly attempted to yellow face some of its extras, and possibly even Johansson herself.

I had a friend once who was half Chinese and half Scottish. She was outgoing, excitable, charming, feminine, and beautiful. We took ballroom dance classes together, and that was where I first realized how marginalized Asian women are. The men looked at her like she was a sex toy – old, often married men and this 14 year old girl. They flirted with her and ogled her. She was their favorite dance partner, and it had nothing to do with her dancing ability. Her personality had quite a bit to do with it, but I’m also quite certain that her race made them feel much more confident in treating her like she existed purely for their pleasure.

I often get ads for Asian women from dating sites. I get those more than any other dating site ad. I’ve seen statistics that Asian women are the most fetishized women in America. What comes with that fetishization? Viewing them as non-human.

Which is why it was so deeply offensive for this film’s producers to take an iconic, inspiring female character like Major Motoko Kusanagi and make her the default woman that we always see on our screens, rather than an underrepresented minority who deserve to see themselves as these inspiring people.

But despite feeling so strongly about that, I also couldn’t ignore that it was a female lead, who is meant to carry the film. Now, I don’t mean to say that it is REMOTELY okay that they whitewashed this character. But I kept thinking, how often do we have a female lead in a big-budget, mainstream cyberpunk film? A woman starring in an action film is unusual enough, but what’s even more unusual is a story that focuses on the humanity, or lack thereof, of a female cyborg. The cyborg trope and the question of whether cyborgs and human-like robots should be treated as equal humans has been so deeply explored within the science fiction genre that I’m sick of contemplating those questions. (I’m a sci fi baby.) It’s a very unique way to explore the human condition, and relevant to our modern world.

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iPhones And the High Cost of Healthcare

This week, Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz made a statement on CNN defending the new Trumpcare bill. He said:

“Well we’re getting rid of the individual mandate. We’re getting rid of those things that people said they don’t want. And you know what? Americans have choices. And they’ve got to make a choice. And so, maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest it in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions for themselves.”

Hmmm, Chaffetz doesn’t seem to have paid for his own health care in a while. The cost of an iPhone would pay for six weeks of metamaiden’s insulin. Even with insurance, if we skipped the iPhone, the amount we’d save would only cover the copay for about six months of insulin. That doesn’t include the supplies that it takes to run the pump that delivers the insulin into her blood stream, or the test strips and needles for her blood glucose meter. She also uses a continuous glucose monitor. She happens to have a lifelong chronic illness which costs thousands of dollars a year to treat. Her Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease, not something caused by lifestyle choices. She was diagnosed at ten years old and is currently an honor student in college. Is Chaffetz going to stand there and tell me that she doesn’t deserve decent health care? We, her parents, have always had good insurance and enough money to afford her care, but we have nightmares worrying about what will happen when she goes off our insurance in a few years. No unpaid internships for her, no gaps in insurance, no self-employment, no working for a small business with crappy or no insurance. Not if the Republicans get their way. They say they are keeping some parts of Obamacare care, but they also still have to make compromises to convince the more conservative members of Congress to vote for their version.

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