pop culture

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

Ready for another round-up of the articles I’ve been reading and thinking about this week?  Look no further!

Pop culture:

The Most Racially Tone-Deaf Casting Decisions Ever (Salon)

The concept of casting actors to play different ethnicities and nationalities than their own is something I think about a lot.  I obviously railed against Johnny Depp’s Tonto in this year’s The Lone Ranger, but that’s just one example of Hollywood’s bizarre and totally racist decision to cast actors in roles that are totally inappropriate for them.  Salon has an interesting list of some of the most egregious examples of this, and they have a pretty great explanation, too:

A good actor is able to do all manner of things, and no one is too exercised about, say, Meryl Streep playing an Australian or Brit. But when it comes to nationalities whose stories we don’t see on-screen as often, unimaginative or careless casting denies talented people the chance to represent their own experience. Maybe Tonto could have had a bit more dignity, in “The Lone Ranger,” if he’d been played by a Native American actor; perhaps a Persian actor would have made “Prince of Persia,” a movie that threw all manner of vaguely Middle Eastern clichés at the wall, a bit less sloppy (though, of course, it’s not the job of actors of color to “save” stereotype-ridden film projects).

It’s an interesting list, and it has the ones you’d probably expect–Depp as Tonto–and the ones you might not–Jennifer Lopez as Selena.  Whether or not you totally agree with it, it’s worth taking a look at and thinking about it for a minute or two.

Pop’s Lamest Lyric (Slate)

Definitely fluffy, this piece takes aim at some of the cliches in pop music’s lyrics and saves its extreme vitriol for the singers who lament the fact that they can no longer breathe when their lover leaves them:

What I find so odd about this particular lazy metaphor is that the act of singing the lyric disproves its intent. Writer’s block yields piles of unused paper. Painters in a rut neglect their canvases. But a singer is actually using the air in his or her heartsick lungs to express, and then dispel, this thoroughly exhausted announcement of breathlessness. The instant the line is uttered, the fallacy is exposed, and the moment deflates.

I mean, yes, of course.  Good point.  It is lazy, and it is melodramatic, but much of pop music is so focused on the conveyor belt that I doubt anyone penning the lyrics is giving that much thought to it.

Top 25 Scariest Science-Fiction and Fantasy TV episodes (i09)

October is my favorite month, and Halloween my favorite holiday, and yet, I’ve done nearly nothing this month to celebrate it.  I love horror but haven’t watched any movies (I did DVR a few, so I hope to knock those out this weekend), and apart from getting together an absolutely EPIC costume for a contest at work, it’s been a fairly lackluster Halloween-prep.  But this list of scary TV episodes makes up for.  I love that Buffy makes the list (and that is definitely the scariest episode of the show, unless you count how terrifying the realities of The Body are).  And that X-Files episode?  DAMN.

Sexuality and Gender:

Will Women Ever Have the Freedom to be Ugly? (Jezebel)

First, hat tip to @GingerGoingHAM for the link this week.  This one is both depressing and completely thought-provoking.  The article is all about how dudes (and dudettes, I guess) default insults have to do with a woman’s looks.  What woman hasn’t had someone tell them, “You’re too ugly to be this bitchy.”  It doesn’t matter how untrue it is: it’s the quickest way to cut someone to the quick.

The article also talks about standards of beauty and how often, women who are considered ugly aren’t even that: they’re just non-compliant. And a double standard exists:

Women are “supposed” to be pretty all the time, whereas men can be a lot of things, and good looking is but one of them. And if he’s not good-looking? Well he can just go be interesting, funny or rich.

As a fairly attractive person who works hard to take care of myself and takes a certain amount of pleasure in getting dolled up to go out, I identify with the themes of this article, as I imagine most women do.  I’ve been on the receiving end of those hurtful, fucking stupid insults, and I know they’ve shaped the way I think about myself, my body, and my looks.  I know that part of the reason I work out 5-6 days a week is because it makes me feel good, but it’s also because I have a fear of gaining and being unattractive–to others, to my partner, to myself.

Lots to think about here.

What did you read this week that got you thinking?

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