When we started the Roller Derby League here in Prince George we were pretty excited about the onslaught of Roller Derby culture about to hit our communities: the Hell On Wheels documentary, Knockdown Knits, and the forthcoming Whip It. With Whip It about to come out it’s like we, the roller derby’ers, have fully arrived in hegemonic pop culture. The trailer brings on debate about the showiness of the sport, the brutal beatings so often left out on television (and not usually on the track), and the weird continuity issues of a teenager being able to play in an adult league. Regardless, the soundtrack is phenomenal and the stacked cast including Zoe Bell, Juliette Lewis, Eve, and Ellen Page will make this movie a gem. And, it must turn out right because Page’s character’s dad gives her a shiny new pair of Riedells: such a well earned and classic new gift for any roller girl who tries to make a name for herself on the track.
August 4, 2009 • Diandra Jurkic-Walls
June 12, 2009 • Michelle Schwartz
Last week, Heather Wood Rudúlph wrote an article for Huffington Post highlighting five reasons we still need feminism. Number four on that list was as follows:
Obsessed, Bride Wars, Bridezillas and everything else that paints women as crazed (in various and sundry ways) to find, keep, and marry a man.
To that, I say “Amen, sister.” I am quite sick of living in a world that offers men movies like The Hangover or the oeuvre of Judd Apatow, where shlubby loser guys get to have all the fun and women exist only as punchlines to the jokes, and offers women… well, very little. Except for, y’know, a chance to fight with each other over said shlubby men.
The white heterosexual male still rules Hollywood and sometimes I think that will never, ever change. Not when I read articles like this one, in which an earnest and talented young screenwriter is told repeatedly by both professors and producers that the world doesn’t want to see a movie starring a woman, or about a woman, or even a movie where two women talk to each other about something other than a man.
To this I say, fine. If Hollywood insists on offering me nothing in the way of suitable entertainment, well, then, I will make my own fun! I have long been a devotee of fanfiction, if only because, as a queer girl, I gotta take representation where I can get it. If Hollywood isn’t going to give me a TV show where the hero is a woman who just happens to enjoy making out with other women, well, I am not going to scoff at any writer who helps to fill that gap. Plus, I’ve always thought there’s something rather subversive about fanfiction, about taking the subtext, or even the text, and seeing it in a radical new way.
And thus, I present, Bride Wars: The Alternative Story, in which, using nothing but film stills, one of the most sexist, misogynist movies of the year is turned into nothing short of a glorious lesbian love story. Don’t you just love it when the two women get married at the end? Everyone say it with me: Awwwwwww.
And they lived happily ever after…
Interested in adding some female oriented fanfiction and subversive subtext to your summer reading list? You’re just in time! Next month is the second annual International Day of Femslash.
June 1, 2009 • Michelle Schwartz
Since the discussion has been so lively on my previous post about sexism in the new Star Trek movie, I thought I would open up the discussion of race in the new movie and in the series.
While I thought Sulu’s dramatic sword fight was awesome (and pretty sexy, too), I was disappointed by Uhura’s reduced role in the new movie. Already saddled with a legacy of being a glorified receptionist, this new Uhura lost even more power by becoming not much more than Spock’s girlfriend. A franchise that had once been praised for its diversity (which was impressive for the ‘60s) has once again become the playground of white heterosexual men.
Danielle C. Benton has written an interesting article (note: contains spoilers) for The American Prospect about the history of minorities in science fiction shows, connecting Uhura to Petty Officer Dualla of Battlestar Galactica by their occupation — answering the phone.
She also points out why a future society envisioned by white writers as being “post-racial” is so dangerous:
Most Hollywood sci-fi presents a “post-racial” world in which we’ve moved from fighting each other over cultural differences to fighting some bigger intergalactic evil. On its face, this type of film should allow for more colour-blind casting and minority roles. Yet even in the Star Wars and Star Trek universes, where the humanoids are “beyond race,” black and other minority actors are rare. Morton calls such tokenized roles the “new Mammy”
Another blogger, Center of Gravitas (note: also contains spoilers!), has also tackled the less than impressive diversity of the new film:
Unlike 1967, it is no longer revolutionary to just acknowledge the presence of people-of-colour or women. They can’t be the tokens who promise future inclusion, but then step aside when the “real” decisions need to be made. This new Star Trek only sneaked around questions of gender and racial equality. In the end, it is still a boys’ franchise that no longer wants to think about contemporary problems of racism and sexism.
I do hope that if there is a sequel, and I’m sure there will be, that some of these problems will be addressed. What was considered groundbreaking in the ‘60s just looks dated today.
What are some of your favorite sci-fi characters of colour? What about queers in space?
May 30, 2009 • Michelle Schwartz
I have mixed feelings about the new Star Trek movie. While I quite enjoyed it as an adventurous space romp, my nagging issues with the original series re-emerged in spades.
I grew up on the later series, so I’ve always found it difficult to enjoy the terrible special effects and campiness of Kirk’s bridge. I also hated the lack of women, except as girlfriends for Kirk, and the fact that female officers would wear miniskirts and go-go boots on the bridge. In what universe would that be practical?
I was much more invested in Captain Janeway, Major Kira, and my favourite female characters in the Star Trek Universe: the sexy warrior Klingon co-captains, the Duras Sisters.
So let’s just say I was a bit peeved that J.J. Abrams’ new movie cut the female cast from two to one and that Uhura was once again wearing a miniskirt. I expect a bit more from the man who gave the world Felicity, Sydney Bristow, and Olivia Dunham. I was genuinely surprised that he could not do better than this new Uhura, a woman who spends the whole movie bickering or staring meaningfully at a not-very-logical Spock.
Ellen Lawrence, in her article for Playtime Magazine, perfectly summarizes - in the light of Roddenberry’s original vision - exactly why it was so illogical to make the future sexist. Although I may take slight issue with her positive reading of the “equality” in the later series (no one will ever be able to convince me that Troi, with her low-cut leotards and her “emotional” job description, was cool), I think her criticism of this new movie, which had a chance to create an entirely new Star Trek universe, is spot on.
What did you think of the new Star Trek? What would be your hopes for a sequel?
April 28, 2009 • Michelle Schwartz
In January, I blogged about RiP: A Remix Manifesto, a movie aimed at criticizing international copyright law, a system that tramples art and innovation, and makes criminals of small children and old ladies. We live in a world where major corporations are declaring they “own” everything from rain forest plants to human DNA. In February, the Electronic Frontier Foundation began a protest of YouTube’s Fair Use Massacre, in which copyright owners (notably Warner Music Group) sent out takedown notices, threatening users who posted videos as innocent as teen girls practicing their piano and singing Christmas songs. Fair use has been gutted and major corporations are seizing “ownership” of our entire universe.
RiP: A Remix Manifesto has since been released, screened in theaters and available in its entirety on the Internet. Brett Gaylor, the filmmaker, still considers it a work in progress, open to being remixed by its audience. At the end of each chapter, Brett offers a prompt to viewers, asking fans to add everything from animation to soundtrack music. Grab material from Open Source Cinema and work your own magic! Art is meant to be shared, not owned.
February 25, 2009 • Megan Griffith-Greene
There’s a terrific event this Thursday at the National Film Board in Toronto: a screening of The Colouring Book: Short Digital Videos by Artists of Colour. This will be the Toronto premiere of the films, which debuted in Vancouver last November.
One of the filmmakers is Indira Dutt, a Vancouver-based writer and student, and an old friend of mine. I was thrilled to catch up with her recently and hear all about the film.
MGG: How did the project get started?
ID: This Colouring Book began as a Vancouver-based youth-driven project that started as a conversation over e-mail. Gabriel Martin wanted to build a community where people of colour could come together to reflect, express, and explore issues of race and experiences that shaped who we are. The writing was all focused around specific questions and themes: we explored our own experiences with sexuality, class, race and media.
February 17, 2009 • Stacey May Fowles
Michael Muhammad Knight’s The Taqwacores Arrives In Canada!
This Is Not A Reading Series celebrates Freedom To Read Week with the Canadian premiere of Michael Muhammad Knight’s controversial novel about the Muslim-punk movement, The Taqwacores (Soft Skull Press).
Montreal filmmaker Omar Majeed is currently working on Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam, a feature documentary about the real-life bands who were inspired by Knight’s fictional creation. Majeed and Knight will show footage and discuss the politics of the Muslim-punk scene. Knight will then have an extended Q & A session with the audience, to be included in the documentary-in-progress. – A This Is Not A Reading Series Event presented by Pages Books & Magazines, Publishers Group Canada, Eyesteel Films, EYE WEEKLY, Gladstone Hotel and Take Five On CIUT.
Gladstone Hotel Melody Bar, 1214 Queen Street West, Toronto
Tues Feb 24; 7:30pm (Doors 7pm) $5 (Free With Book Purchase)
February 4, 2009 • Stark Koenig
So Denis Villeneuve, director of the award-winning film Maëlstrom, has directed a new film called Polytechnique. As suggested by the name, the movie is about the Montreal Massacre at Montreal’s École Polytechnique in 1989. Scheduled to be released in Quebec on Friday (and in the rest of Canada later this year), the film is already receiving some mixed reactions.
See the trailer here:
February 1, 2009 • Anna Leventhal
I’m a little last-minute with this event posting, but those of you in Montreal might be interested in a screening hosted by Queer McGill tomorrow night.
The film is FtF: Female to Femme, and it’s an exploration of one side of lesbian life that often gets ignored: queer women who also identify as femme, girly, ladylike. From the Queer McGill website:
[FtF] explores femme dyke identities as radical gender practices. A film that envisions more than it documents, FtF denaturalizes gender and pushes for an understanding of femininity as multiple rather than singular, constructed rather than natural. Sexy, funny and controversial, FtF features a host of fabulous femmes, including professors, activists, artists and dancers.
I’m not able to embed the trailer for the movie, but you can watch it here.
January 31, 2009 • Andrea Hoang
Last year Mississippi’s Charleston High School had their first mixed race prom. Ever.
While in the process of making a documentary about the changes made in Mississippi since the civil rights movement, Canadian film maker Paul Saltzman discovered that the small community of Charleston (population 2,100) still had segregated proms.
This prompted him to make Prom Night in Mississipi, a documentary playing at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, with commentary by Morgan Freeman.
Charleston is in fact, the town Freeman grew up in. He offered to fund a mixed race prom ten years ago. His offer was denied. He made the offer again in 2008, and this time it was accepted.
Toronto-based photographer Catherine Farquharson also had the chance to attend the monumental prom night. Her photos can be seen starting tomorrow at the Lens Factory, at 1040 Queen West.
Farquharson recently spoke about the experience on CBC’s Metro Morning.
In the interview, Farquharson says that it wasn’t the kids, but the parents, who were opposed to the idea of a racially integrated prom. And although there was a mixed prom, there was also still a whites-only prom.