pop culture

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the things on the internet I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.

Why Women Aren’t Welcome On the Internet (Pacific Standard)

Look, I don’t care how you feel about rape culture because the fact of the matter is that it exists.  The fact of the matter is that women are more likely to be targeted with threats of violence, both sexual and otherwise, and the Internet makes it easier than ever for these threats to escalate and increase in occurrence.  This piece by Amanda Hess delves into her own experiences with threats as well as those of women all over the world, targeted simply because they are women:

But no matter how hard we attempt to ignore it, this type of gendered harassment—and the sheer volume of it—has severe implications for women’s status on the Internet. Threats of rape, death, and stalking can overpower our emotional bandwidth, take up our time, and cost us money through legal fees, online protection services, and missed wages.

This piece is lengthy, but it’s thought-provoking and deeply disturbing.

Unlikable Characters (Slate)

I love Girls, guys.  I think it’s a really smart, funny show, and I think Dunham is doing something on TV that pretty much no one else is.  Do I think it’s a perfect show?  Of course not, but that’s part of what makes it so fun.  Dunham has made a point of sort of tackling the criticism of the show head-on and putting that criticism to work.  The characters are narcissistic and awful?  Let’s ramp that up to 11.  The show is racist?  Let’s have Hannah say awful, horrifically ignorant things to a black boyfriend.  You get the idea.

And I think it’s brilliant, and I don’t watch the show to like the characters.  Jesus, could we just stop with the “likable characters” thing all together?  People don’t need to like the characters to enjoy a movie or a book or a TV show, so why do we keep getting tripped up on this?

 It’s the sharpest show out there about the self-justifications of the self-obsessed and the immense power even of decaying friendships. That’s the price Girls paid for beating the haters at their own game: It learned to hate.

Ending “Gone Girl” Differently: The Dangers of Alternate Last Acts (Salon)

Okay, I read and mostly enjoyed Gone Girl as much as the rest of America.  I thought it was a little long, and I didn’t think that any of the plot twists were that shocking, really, but it was an enjoyable read, and there was some good, scathing criticism about relationships in there.  I’ll see the movie because it will be a big film event.  But this week, I read the feature in Entertainment Weekly about Gone Girl, and I came away with a couple of takeaways, one being that changing the ending of the book–in what sounds like a pretty major way–for the film might be kind of a mistake.  And by “kind of,” I mean awful.

This piece tackles that same issue, and like me, has some of the same issues with it:

The ending of “Gone Girl” strikes me as perfect, in that I can’t imagine any better one. No wonder Flynn had to tear up the whole “third act” in order to work her way to an alternative. But just knowing that Flynn thinks it might all have turned out otherwise takes some of the pleasure out of it.

For me, it’s deeper than that: why bother telling the story in the first place using a different medium if you’re going to fundamentally alter the story?

Manic Pixie Dream Mom (The Awl)

Well this is amazing:

Lost your mom, sad, trendy movie guy? It’s not all bad. You can make a new mom with a new woman. No, don’t just paste in a copy of the same old peevish lady—the one with her own job, your laundry, and your stupid, needy dad in her face. This time, make your perfect mother. You’ve already got the fantasy, lying latent somewhere in the depths of your childhood lizard brain. Trot it out. Show us your dream mom scaled up to the dimensions of a dream girl. And don’t stop the fantasy at actually getting to smooch your dream mom—er, girl. Go ahead and create the ultra-attentive, indefatigable, sparkly fairy you deserve. You can even suit her up in the vintage dresses your mom used to wear—or that someone’s mom must have worn.

Pages Ain’t Nothing But a Number (Book Riot)

Because I read a lot and like to track that reading, I love articles that talk about what that looks like for other people.  This short, interesting piece at Book Riot is interesting because it talks about how people set goals for themselves, but it also talks about what complete assholes book lovers can be to one another.  Largely about the numbers of books that people read in a year and how that’s tied to whether or not someone is a good reader:

Because 20 books in a year? It’s a good goal. 100 books in a year? Good goal. 5 books? Good. 200? Why not.

You can literally read any amount of books you want to and still be a good reader…

If someone reads fewer books than you do, it does not make them less intelligent than you. It does not even make them a worse reader. If someone reads different types of books than you do, it doesn’t make them a bad reader, either. It just means they are a different human being than you.

This isn’t completely new information, it’s just something to keep in mind.  I’m guilty of being kind of a pain in the ass about how much I read, and it’s stuff like this that helps me check myself.

What got you thinking this week?


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