A post of a different color

Y’all, Pop Culture Curmudgeon is in general a politics-free zone, and I like it that way. However, in the wake of the past week’s rather momentous events, I feel like I need to say a few things. Please note that these are my views, and not the views of Pop Culture Curmudgeon or its founder, Jen.

ACT I: Racism rears its ugly head – In which the Supreme Court strips the heart out of the Voter Rights Act and Paula Deen makes a cake of herself.

Generally speaking, I like to think that things are getting better in our country, that people are growing out of some of the intolerance of the past, that racism and homophobia in particular are on the decline. I’m not so foolish as to think that people are above gerrymandering or making it difficult for the poor or minorities to vote, but evidently the Supreme Court disagrees.

At the same time all of this was happening, Paula Deen is outed for being a racist and using the “n-word.” Honestly, I don’t know how this was a surprise to anyone. We are all products of our environment, and she is most definitely a product of the Jim Crow-era South. Interestingly, since she made her apology, her most recent cookbook has been at the top of Amazon’s sellers, with another, older cookbook also in the top 20.

All of which leads me to this point: watch this excellent youtube video on how to handle someone making a racist remark or action. It deals specifically with racism, but could (and probably should) be applied to most anything -ist or -phobic.

Act II: Girl Power – In which a state senator from Texas stages an epic filibuster, grabs the attention of the world via social media, and the mainstream media doesn’t cover it until the next day.

It’s 11:30 p.m. and I’m checking my Twitter feed for the first time that day. #StandWithWendy and #SB5 are all over the place and I have no idea what they’re talking about. I click on the #StandWithWendy hashtag and see literally thousands of tweets about Sen. Wendy Davis of Texas and the 13-hour filibuster she was staging to try and keep #SB5 from passing, a bill that would’ve closed all but 5 abortion clinics in the state of Texas. If the bill had passed, some women in Texas would’ve been closer to clinics in California than in their own home state.

I was instantly enthralled by the drama and tried turning on CNN, MSNBC, even Fox News to try and find out more. NOTHING. No mention anywhere. In fact, some of the best coverage at the time was provided by the UK’s Guardian, which is shameful.

As it got closer to midnight, the Republican Lieutenant Governor announces that Sen. Davis has to yield the floor because she’s used up her three warnings. (Evidently it’s a three strikes and you’re out system – you get three warnings about leaning on the podium, or whatever. Once you’ve had three warnings, you have to sit down and STFU.) Had she really used up her three warnings? Debatable, and this is when things get really interesting. The crowd in the gallery above the Senate chambers caused such a ruckus for 13 minutes that the vote was unable to be held before the magic hour of midnight. A vote was held anyway and timestamped for the next day, as it should’ve been, which means it would’ve been invalid. Shortly thereafter, it was noticed by many that the timestamp had been altered to show an earlier, before midnight vote, which meant that the bill had passed.

All of this was reported real time via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, UStream, and assorted other social media. Still not one word was reported by mainstream media at the time.

Someone tweeted the phone number to Sen. Davis’s office and asked people to call and thank her for her hard work. I called at 11:47 p.m., the phone was answered on the first ring, and there was a cacophony in the background. It was awesome – I felt more engaged by the political process than I have in years, and I don’t even live in Texas.

That’s just it folks – regardless of how you feel about abortion and/or women’s health issues, this is how politics SHOULD be. The representative that you elect standing up and speaking on your behalf, for what is in your best interests, and not just spouting whatever the latest party line happens to be.

For the record, I’m pro-choice. I don’t know that abortion is something that I would choose for myself, but that’s the point – the choice should be MINE, not a decision made for me by a group of men in a room somewhere or by my insurance company. And, if I should make that choice, it should be easily accessible in a safe environment without having to travel hundreds of miles.

So, thank you, Senator Wendy Davis of Texas, for standing up for women everywhere. You’re amazeballs.

This is getting extraordinarily wordy, so I’ll keep this last one short and sweet – but it’s no less important.

Act III: In which the Supreme Court decides against DOMA and Prop 8. YAY! How is love ever a bad thing? If a couple is committed to each other, does it really matter what the makeup of that couple is? I look forward to a time when gay marriage is recognized in all fifty states, not just 12.

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NBC’s Hannibal – a great show you’re probably not watching

When I first heard that NBC was planning a pilot (and then actually picked up a show) based on the character Hannibal Lecter from the Thomas Harris books, I thought it was the worst idea I’d ever heard. Well, maybe not the worst, but definitely in the top 10. I mean, we’re talking about a character that is OWNED by Anthony Hopkins.

In fact, when I googled Hannibal Lecter, This was the first image that appeared:

Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter

How in the world was the creative team behind this fiasco possibly going to find someone to out Hannibal Anthony Hopkins? Believe it or not, Bryan Fuller and company have actually found someone who can take the roll and make it their own in the person of Mads Mikkelsen. Among other things, he played the delightfully creepy villain in the James Bond reboot, Casino Royale. Honestly, I can decide if I find him incredibly sexy or terrifying, and that is exactly what makes him perfect for this part.

Mads Mikkelsen turns up the heat as Hannibal Lecter.

Hugh Dancy is doing a great job as Will Graham. I was actually pleasantly surprised by his performance. Nothing else that I’d seen him in had suggested that he had this level of performance in him. Caroline Dhavernas, Gina Torres and Lawrence Fishburn are also welcome additions and doing fine jobs.

The real star of the show, though, is not an actor. It is the LOOK of the show. It is quite simply one of the most visually stunning shows on t.v. right now, maybe ever. If you appreciated the cinematography behind Bryan Fuller’s other shows (Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me), you’ll find that he’s really kicked it up a notch here. In fact, I’d venture out on a limb to say that it is the best looking show on network t.v. right now. It wouldn’t look out of place on HBO or one of the other cable networks. I’m not even going to try and give a description, just give at a look for yourself – the pilot is below.

Are you watching? What do you think?

Easter egg for Wonderfalls fans: In the second episode, I caught at least three nods to Wonderfalls. See if you catch them.

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Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke: Catchy Song, Sexist Video

The other day, the hosts of Wake Up with Taylor were talking about the flap against the video for Robin Thicke’s new song, Blurred Lines. They couldn’t quite wrap their minds around why people thought it was sexist, objectifying, and degrading to women. I mean, just because a bunch of fully clothed dudes are ogling half-naked women prancing around them, that’s not sexist, right? On no, it’s just that the U.S. is afraid of boobs and things that are sexy.

This hit a chord with me because it seems as if the kids these days (yeah, I’m going full-on curmudgeon on you today) have ignored all of the strides and the research we’ve done that shows society is damaged when sexist behavior and gender inequality continue. No good comes when people are unequal.

I’m sure you’ve heard that young women such as Katy Perry can’t bear to be called feminists, even though they like women’s rights and all. And the continued debate over whether women should be guaranteed the same wages for the same work points out why it is a problem that feminism is still some scary, radical word. Unless we women are treated as equals in pop culture and society, we will never reach the same level of financial success as our male counterparts.

So, why does this particular video perpetuate sexism and inequality? It’s reliance on the objectification of women and the male gaze.

When men view women as sexual objects, they don’t see them as human beings with thoughts, feelings, and the need to be equal.

When women are objectified, we perform at less than our full potential.

For more examples of female objectification and discussions of the problems behind sexism, check out this site — that Hustler cover is shocking and disturbing.

And, to quote the ever-funny Janeane Garofalo, don’t trip on my soap box on the way out.

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