A Voice of A Generation

girls-finale-hbo-jessa-shoshanna

In the very first episode of Girls Lena Dunham’s clueless Hannah tells her parents that she thinks she might be the voice of her generation.

The joke here obviously is that Hannah is in no way shape or form capable of such of thing. Nor is it possible to judge such a thing while it’s happening. But I was twenty four, I watched that pilot not long after running out of money and time, and moving from a windowless bedroom in a shared Brooklyn apartment back to the large, beautiful house that my parents built while I was in college. And something about the show felt vibrant and real, and close to who I was in that moment.

Girls taught me a lot over the past six years. Reading about and disecting it taught me even more. But the main lesson I got from the show, was that “representation matters.”

Now I’m not talking about the fact that Girls is problematic in it’s general diversity, I’m not talking about the fact that Dunham herself is a difficult personality to push past, because both of those things are true, I’m talking about the fact that I’d never seen something hit what my friends and I were going through in a specific moment so squarely as season 1 (and to a smaller degree season 3) of Girls did.

I am a rich white girl with artistic aspirations. (Though every character on this show refusing to get a day job always drove me absolutely bonkers) (Except Shosh. I mean obviously.) Girls is literally about people like me, and I’d never seen anything that was literally about people like me before. I’d related to characters and stories, but never had anything so specifically fitting my profile hit before.

Which brings me to representation. I never knew that I was missing representation until I saw that representation. And I want everyone to have that moment of recognition. To hear a character say something, even if that something is perverse and obtuse and disconnected from most of reality, that hits your reality so fricking perfectly that you will love that film, TV show, piece of music forever.

Cross identification in fiction is wonderful. It builds empathy and understanding and expands minds. I wouldn’t be the person I am, if I didn’t see parts of myself in characters that were nothing like me. But the sheer power of seeing someone so close to myself, even in four parts, as I did when I watched Girls is so overwhelming, so beautiful, such a call in the dark that “you are not alone,” that I want everyone to get that. Which is why I want to hear stories from all kinds of creators, and why I’ve been making a concerted effort to search out those stories in my life for the few years.

But I want to state for the record that Girls was what opened that window for me. I’d heard pleas for diversity before it, and understood, because I like stories from people who aren’t like me, but didn’t understand this need to see yourself on screen and in stories. Until I did, and it felt like magic. It felt like Lena Dunham, with her writing, and acting, as well as the acting of Allison Williams & Zosia Mament, (and to a lesser extent Jemima Kirke, because I don’t see a lot of myself in Jessa. Though I do see several of my friends) saw my heart, and suddenly the world was brighter.

Everyone should get that feeling, and Girls gave me that feeling, and I will miss it terribly now that it’s over. I’ll miss it the same way I miss the friends I had when the show started. A lot of those people are not in my life anymore, because adulthood is complicated.

I know.: RIP Carrie Fisher

A lot of people died in 2016. A lot of them were really famous and inspiring, but two of them were my great aunt and grandmother, so that’s keeping the celebrity deaths in perspective. (Seriously, the angel of death seemed really cruel this year.)

But I guess we couldn’t be left very well alone in the last 4 days of the years, because now Carrie Fisher is among them.

Back in the early, early days of starting this blog, I wrote about Princess Leia, and the blurry lines between second and third wave feminism as I saw it then. (I’ve grown a lot in the past five years.) Leia has meant a lot to me as a writer, a fan, a critic and a woman. Carrie Fisher’s writing means more. (I’ve got kind of a thing about acerbic troubled ladies from that generation. I’m also deeply into Norah Ephron, who is also gone. Well, SHIT.) I’ve spent a lot of time in the past decade trying to decide what kind of writer I wanted to be, and it was in finding memoir that it all finally clicked, and Wishful Drinking was a huge part of that.

I didn’t read the book but I watched the one woman show and was blown away by it’s bizarre mix of depressing self disclosure and hilarious self deprication. It was one large step towards the realization that “This is what I want to do.” I still had far to go, and I wound up a good deal less confessional, but my life is also a whole lot less interesting than hers was.

Her fearlessness in the face of aging and mental illness and addiction was remarkable and her wit and strength was incredible.

I’m writing this while watching When Harry Met Sally, because I want to remember that this woman, this indomitable woman was so much more than the one character who defined her. But I do want to talk about Princess Leia Organa, General Organa, the icon the light in every nerd girls life. Yes, we’ve dealt with fridging and Gamergate and being Smurfettes and damsels, but we had Leia. We had this beacon of strength and fire and fight and compassion and joy and love. Leia the Hutt slayer, Leia the princess, Leia the senator, Leia the general.

Every time I write a female character I make sure that she lives up to Leia. Not in the same ways, but she has to have at least as much agency, plot impact and personality. Otherwise, what’s the point?

2016 wasn’t the worst year of my life, but it wasn’t great. I fought through a baseline of depression, a job that I hated and the loss of two of the women who’d inspired me my whole life, right in my own small world. And now the world at large has lost yet another shining light that had meant so much to so many of us.

Yesterday I wrote the following: May the Force Be With You. We Know.

“I know” symbolizes “I love you” second only to “As You Wish” in my book. So that’s what I’m going with to say goodbye to Carrie Fisher, We Know. We love you. Thank you for all of it.

Rest in Peace, drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.

2016 Pop Culture Thank Yous

2016 was a rough year, for like, Earth. We lost some of our brightest lights, politics took a terrifying turn towards the horrific, and all kinds of other small defeats.

But, as I said back in November, the thing we do here is point to the light, so I’m going to list out the pop culture stuff I was really grateful for this year:

  • The Women of The DCEU: Neither Batman V Superman nor Suicide Squad were particularly great, but they gave us Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. And for this we should be grateful, because all three of these women seem like, uber psyched about these characters and are approaching them with integrity and joy. Next stop Gotham Sirens. (Please cast Christina Hendricks as Ivy.) Well, Wonder Woman first, but also Gotham Sirens.
  • The Hamilton Mixtape: Should speak for itself, but it’s unrelentingly good. Reuniting Ashanti and Ja-Rule ALONE makes it noteworthy, but each version of each song, plus the new songs are all perfect. “Wrote My Way Out,” has probably my favorite verse that Lin-Manuel has ever written. (Though Sonny’s solo in “96,000” is up there too.)
  • Kate McKinnon: Between her Emmy win, Ghostbusters and all of the really stellar work she did as Hilary Clinton and well, everything else on SNL (and possibly Office Christmas Party, I haven’t yet seen it.) I think this is going to be the year that comedy nerds look back on as her real rise. And she deserves it, because she’s incredible.
  •  This Is Us: The most emotionally manipulative show ever made and I don’t care. It’s wonderful. Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia make me cry every week. The Pearsons are stepping up to the plate to replace the Walkers and the Bravermans and they are doing an incredible job.
  • R+L=J is canon.
  • Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life: Was it everything we’d all always wanted? Nope. Did it bring Lorelai and Luke to a satisfying conclusions? Yes. Was Team Logan decimated? Uh huh. Should we check in again in a few years? If it is Amy Sherman-Palladino’s will. Should Rory’s baby be a boy? You bet! Should she name him Richard? Duh! Will she and Jess end up together raising said baby? Sure hope so. Will Jess occasionally take a worried Richard’s face in his hands and say, “You are my son, and I love you,” making everyone cry? Everybody watch This Is Us.
  • Tom Holland as Spider-Man
  • Westworld and Westworld theorizing. The character of Maeve on Westworld, the refusal to backtrack on brilliant storytelling in Westworld, the character of Teddy on Westworld, Ed Harris’s performance on Westworld, Anthony Hopkins’s performance on Westworld. 
  • Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, specifically the joke about Seal’s vague history with wolves. I want to know more about this Lonely Island.
  • Legends Of Tomorrow: The show’s slow start and the fact that they managed to make Vandal Savage (one of my favorite DC Baddies) boring caused me to hit pause on it. But when I decided to commit it was so very worth it, and Season 2 is such a complete delight. (Though lack of Leonard Snart is *inahles dramatically* let’s say, mmm, disappointing.) It’s hard to lose me on a show who’s premise is, “Pretty people on a time machine chase bad guys, wear period outfits and kick ass.” It’s brought some of the best parts of Arrow over with it, in Sara and Ray and now Malcolm Merlyn. (Put Thea and Dig on Waverider, and I’d say Arrow ceases having a need to exist. Felicity can go to The Flash.) (I’m kidding, Diggle would never time travel.)
  • The West Wing Weekly, which gave me a framework to revisit one of my favorite shows without rushing through it. That The West Wing holds up so well is also nice to see.
  • Zootopia and Moana are both. Thanks Disney, for bringing so much back. You know, animals that make you cry and spunky teen heroines
  • Deadpool. Deadpool’s marketing campaign. Deadpool’s R rating. Deadpool’s GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS. ‘Tis a good time to be a nerd friends.
  • Donald Glover is going to be Lando Calrissian. While this isn’t going to happen for two more years, I feel this is an important victory for me personally, as I talked about it to an obnoxious degree.
  • A return to form from Once Upon A Time. It’s not as good as season 1, but it’s at least very good. The new characters are engaging, the story feels low it has stakes. I’m thrilled about it.

There’s more stuff but that’s what’s jumping out at me

Next week I’ll write up movie season, and look at 2017. I think we’ve got some fun ahead of us.

Time To Get Serious: Because What Else Is There?

Politics are complicated for me. I love a lot of very conservative people. I love a lot of extremely liberal people. I am much more liberal than most of my conservative friends and much more conservative than most of my liberal friends.

Many of my politics come from my Catholicism. I’m not interested in hearing about your bad experience with the Church, right now, I know a lot of people have had them. The Church has never been anything but loving home for me and a guiding light when I’ve been lost. And in that vein, I am pro-life which means that I oppose abortion, the death penalty, unjust war, nuclear proliferation and I believe that care for those counted the least among us is necessary for any society to consider themselves good.

Because of these values I don’t really align with any particular American political party.

Others come from my life. I was taught from when I was very young that love and compassion and courtesy were paramount. My mother in particular did not tolerate exclusion or cruelty from us. When I felt like I was drowning in the first half of my twenties it was my queer friends who held me close and made me feel that my life was worth something. So I spent more breath and energy fighting that the law held their love as equal to my love than I have for anything else. My Person (trademark Shonda Rhimes) is an immigrant, who came here to build a life worthy of her brilliance and pure joy. I now want to raise my voice so that she and others like her still come, and stay and make us better and stronger.

Because of those values I lean Democrat.

But it’s complicated, and I don’t know what else to say about it.

I am so incredibly fortunate. I am white, I am Christian, I am wealthy, I live in the suburbs, I am straight, I am cisgendered, I am educated, I am healthy. I won’t apologize for these things, but I will do what I can to use them to help.

I don’t know how to fix this, how to heal this. People on both sides are in pain. I know I won’t shut up. I have a small corner here, where I talk about media that makes me happy. I’m going to keep doing that. I’m going to keep pointing to the light because it’s all I know how to do. I’m going to speak when I can, but I hope this little corner of warmth is helpful, because it’s what I have to give.

To those who don’t have my advantages, please don’t give up. We need you.

1000 posts. Can’t Believe It

Wow, you guys, this is my 1,000 post.

I’m a little bit, well, overwhelmed by the whole thing. Also yesterday was my birthday and I’m pretty sure that my hangover is going to kill me.

But Woo hoo! 1000 posts! And believe it or not they aren’t all about One Tree Hill…sure felt like it though.

I didn’t do any analysis, but I’d bet most of them are about Batman.

I mean, I haven’t written about Batman lately, but I used to write about Batman a lot.

So anyway, Happy 1000 posts. Here’s a picture of Batman and Robin.

batman_and_robin Dick and Damian

Oh, you thought I meant Bruce and Dick? No Dick and Damian. Obviously.

Also, Barry Allen bringing Kara Danvers Ice Cream

Ice Cream

NaNoWriMo 2016: The Big Choice

Hey everyone, it’s time for the writing marathon to end all writing marathons. I started taking part in NaNoWriMo events in July of 2008, I wrote a very poorly thought out and super derivative romantic comedy about a bunch of 25 year olds who lived in Hoboken, did a lot Karaoke, and went on vacation to Florida. (I was obviously really stretching out of my comfort zone on that one. The heroine had also recently become obsessed with vampire fiction. Guess what I was reading at the time?)

Since then I’ve written some bad urban fantasy, a second generation super hero story from the perspective of the hero’s reporter girlfriend, that was actually OK, but I keep forgetting to do more work on, half of another romantic comedy, and a fantasy novel set in a magical kingdom that’s moved on from it’s medieval setting to a regency one, which leads to one of the three projects I was between this year.

I really like playing in the city of Dovetail last year, but while I was writing the story of Lady Emily Williams, a country girl with magical powers who just wants normalcy. (She was also caught in a love triangle between a bad boy magician and her childhood sweetheart. Why yes, I had been listening to Phantom Of The Opera at the time, why do you ask?) But Emily’s story led me to another one, which is what I’m dying to write. Halfway through I stumbled onto the character of Anessa Antony. Anessa is the daughter of Emily’s magic tutor, and she’s a lot more fun to write about than Emily. So, her story is a possibility.

The other is another idea I’ve had brewing for a while, where the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella and The Prince’s younger brother accidentally fall in love and magic induced shenanigans occur. This idea is a little bit sillier and has a lot of farce baked in.

The third is different entirely, and is basically a dark comedic novel about people in their twenties who still live at home in the suburbs.

Anyway, I landed on Anessa, because I really want to know more about her, and I’d get to hang out with Emily and Xander (the bad boy magician, who also happens to be Anessa’s closest friend.) a little bit more.

We’ll see how it goes, but I’m excited to get kicked off.

Single Girl Stories: NYCC Post Party Grossness

One of the things I’ve been trying to do lately is put myself out there more dude-wise. As in, I am trying to go out and talk to dudes, which might lead to dating. It is…not always super fun, but can lead to fun stories. This story is less “fun” and “awful” and “not the worst thing that could have happened, but seriously this is the shit we deal with on the regular.”

So, two weeks removed from this story, I feel OK telling it. While at one of the post parties for NYCC, a pair of men began engaging in conversation with Kristi and I. Since we had the attention of the bartender already, they asked if we could please order for them, and they’d cover our already ordered beers.
This seemed a fair trade, so we said sure, and started chatting. One of said men sort of managed to isolate me. Not completely, Kristi was still right next to me, but we had our backs to one another. This will come into play later because it became WAYYYY harder to signal to her.
About, let’s say 5 minutes, into our interaction, this man stated (I want it clear that it was a STATEMENT, not a question) that we were going to go back to his hotel room. I laughed and shook my head, assuring him that it would not be happening, as one night stands and casual sex are not my thing. He asked why, I shrugged saying just not my scene. Seriously I gave him every chance to get out of this situation without being a creep. Cue ten minutes of crap about how a one night stand doesn’t have to “casual,” because of intense feelings or something. Once again, I said I wasn’t interested.
I managed to open up the stance so that i was now talking to both him and his friend and Kristi. This conversation went way better, was more Comic Con and fandom focused. The only thing that tarred it was that the guy kept trying to touch me and I kept stepping away. Eventually, I suggested checking out one of the other spaces (this was a big midtown club, with multiple bar areas). Kristi, bless her, took the hint, took my hand and we sprinted upstairs. Unfortunately, the guys followed us, but Kristi was now clued in to the grossness. The nice one (as we called him) had to excuse himself to get on a train back to Jersey (his kid had a football game the next morning that he wanted to get back to, the sketchy dude then mocked him for this, seriously.) and as such we all walked back downstairs.
I had resigned myself to this being my night, dodging this guy who wouldn’t stop touching me and pressuring me to go home with him, and I was really REALLY bummed out about it, because aside from GROSS, post comic con parties are among my favorite things about going to comic cons. When we got downstairs, I announced that I needed to pee, and we ran to the bathroom. We then went to yet a third bar area, where we were for the rest of the night. Finally, an hour after he’d propositioned me and I’d said I wasn’t interested, I’d managed to shake the guy.
Once there, we really enjoyed ourselves. Oh, AND we wound up dancing with two guys for most of the night, one of whom, when Kristi said she was married, respectfully backed off, saying he’d had fun dancing with her, but had come out looking to meet girls, so he was going to move on. Understandable.
So, the moral of this story? Be like the cool dudes we danced with, not like the sketchy one who bought me a beer. Also, everything, even getting hit on by a dude you’ve repeatedly said no to, is better when you’ve got a friend who’s just going to drag to the dance floor eventually anyway.