Sometimes the Master’s Tools Can Light a Fire

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Dystopian and utopian texts are incredibly important for envisioning our world otherwise, a point emphasized by Ursula K. Le Guin at the 2014 National Book Awards. In her speech, Le Guin noted that we need writers who “can see through our fear-stricken society … to other ways of being,” and she named the profit motive […]

“Twilight” Screenplay Contest to Boost Women Writers and Directors

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Just when you thought Twilight had receded into the zeitgeists-of-popular-culture-past, a new short film contest called “The Storytellers— New Voices of The Twilight Saga” promises to bring the series, and its vibrant fan base, back to life. Before you grit your teeth and shake your feminist fist, bemoaning that one of the most regressive, non-feminist-friendly blockbuster sagas is […]

What’s Missing From the Gone Girl Debate? Privilege!

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  WARNING: THIS PIECE CONTAINS SPOILERS Gone Girl has been called misogynist, an amalgamation of negative stereotypes of women, a text that perpetuates rape culture, and a narrative that fuels men’s rights activists’ ugly depiction of the gender equality feminists are trying to achieve. Putting the talent of the author aside—because I do think Gillian Flynn […]

“This Is Where I Leave You” — Chutzpah v. Repression

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Jane Fonda and Tina Fey, two comic masterminds in one film? Yes, please! 9 to 5, which Ms. magazine featured on its January cover in 1981, remains one of my favorite comedies. Fonda as the naïve, buttoned-up secretary Judy, learns how to ovary-up from her feisty coworkers Violet (Lily Tomlin) and Doralee (Dolly Parton). In real […]

Lost in a Maze of Males

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The Maze Runner, the new post-apocalyptic film based on James Dashner’s 2009 book, has a strong lead female and a diverse cast in terms of race (what a nice change from the too-white Hunger Games!). But, when I mention “a strong lead female,” I literally mean “a”—yes, as in one—one female among a gaggle of adolescent […]

“The Giver” Delivers Powerful Pro-Choice Message in Slick, IKEA Package

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Translating dystopian texts to the screen is tricky business, as such texts rely so much on the reader’s perception of what a truly dystopian society would look and feel like. To some, the visuals of The Giver might seem ideal: cookie-cutter houses filled with sparse, functional, IKEA-like furnishings and a society that also has a straight-lined, minimalist, […]

Does Comic-Con Condone Rape Culture?

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Sexual harassment and assault are prevalent everywhere in our culture, including at public events. In some cases, though, the atmosphere of particular events actually seems to promote, or at least tacitly condone, harassment. San Diego’s Comic-Con, the biggest convention of its kind, is one such event. In my piece, “Comic-Conned: Gender Norms in a Carnivalesque […]

Lucy Is No Louise: Skip This Action-Packed Fail and Re-watch Thelma and Louise Instead

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Sure, Scarlett Johansson is a great actor. Alas, her lead role in Lucy does not do her justice. The premise of the film—that we only use 10 percent of our brains—is a faulty one and caused quite an angry buzzing across the Internet (as here and here) even before the film’s official release. The direction […]

A Quintuple F for Obvious Child (And That’s Good, Not Bad)

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The new film Obvious Child is informed by F-words of all sorts. It’s funny and feminist. It’s about friendship and forgiveness. It contains jokes about flatulence. It’s radically important for so many reasons, not least among them that “seeing an abortion in a negative light in a movie makes viewers less likely to support abortion […]

Dragon 2: DreamWorks Could Use Some Training in Racial Stereotyping

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Diversity in animation is often evident via the fanciful creatures that populate such stories. Big green ogres, cutesy blue smurfs, jocular bright-yellow minions. In How to Train Your Dragon 2 dragons are the diverse creatures of choice, ranging from the uber-spikey untrainable babies, to the salamander-like faithful Toothless, to the menacing mastadonesque alpha-dragon. The humans that […]