Category Archives: Feminism

Amy Schumer’s Video Speaks The Brutal Truth

Here’s a brilliant skit from Inside Amy Schumer where Julia Louis-Dreyfus joins Tina Fey and Patricia Arquette to celebrate her ‘last f**kable day’ as mandated by the media. It’s a satirical reflection of the entertainment industry’s not-so-latent ageism and misogyny.

Female actors of a certain age will either get relegated to pointless roles or be forgotten altogether in favor of young ingenues. There’s also the mention of how women will be considered ‘too old’ to be paired opposite male actors (who have no such day) twice their age. Special points for mentioning how Sally Field graduated from playing Tom Hanks’ girlfriend to his mother!

If you too feel that such treatment of women and squandering of their skill needs to stop, then watch the hilariously honest video:

Happy International Women’s Day!

A friend’s Facebook post recently pointed out that ideological movements like feminism have taken so long to prevail because the global culture deems it more important to publicly identify as a feminist than to actually do something that combats patriarchy.

In other words, a lot of people talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. On this Women’s Day, I want to celebrate people and organizations that actually do the former and help others follow suit. Being a young man, I have personally valued initiatives that motivate male allies like myself. Here are two prime examples:

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First,there’s The Good Men Project. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that patriarchal orders oppress both genders but in different ways. Men are also negatively impacted by societal pressures like women, though the symptoms may be different.

The Good Men Project strives to redefine modern-day masculinity and encourages men to eschew stigmas that either hold them back or harbor within them as hurt.

The website frequently publishes experience-based long-form journalism and shares important articles from other sites too. This is one of their most recent, a list from RaisingGreatMen.com about raising boys as better critical thinkers.

http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/ten-tips-for-raising-a-critical-thinker-kerj/

Follow them online and show your support!

Then of course there’s Emma Watson’s HeForShe.

emma-watson-he-for-she-speech-1

Through this UN-supported, social media lionized project, Watson took on the daunting but admirable task of promoting a feminist sentiment in males and also explaining how an uneven social order with narrowly defined roles is in fact detrimental to both genders.

Though less than a year old, HeForShe has amassed a great following and has created room for crucial dialog by challenging and questioning men in every aspect of life about how they help the women around them gain acknowledgment.

My respect for this initiative is endless and in the past year, my respect for Emma Watson (already quite respectable for her intellect and talent) has increased tenfold.

To commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day, Watson represented HeForShe with a live Q&A session at Facebook which involved details on the project as well as interaction with the audience. Here it is:
https://www.facebook.com/HeForShe

If you don’t already, like HeForShe on FB and follow it on Twitter and Instagram. Trust me, you will be in distinguished company. You can also share related opinions using #HeForShe.

I hope more projects like these two come up and fight the war for gender equality in the right way. Remember that feminism is not man-hating but a belief that both genders are on the same page with privileges.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Newsweek’s Piece On Rampant Silicon Valley Sexism

Newsweek cover

Here’s a dose of eyeopening disgust! With Newsweek‘s controversial cover came this cover story that exposes shocking level of Silicon Valley sexism. Here’s a look at how even today, female tech entrepreneurs struggle to accomplish their goals while fending off remarks on their intellect, dealing with lack of financial support, and even facing full-on sexual harassment. Good on Newsweek and Nina Burleigh for bringing this to the rest of the world.Read it here:

http://www.newsweek.com/2015/02/06/what-silicon-valley-thinks-women-302821.html

And you thought Wolf Of Wall Street-era female stockbrokers had it hard.

Top Five’s Chelsea Brown And My On-Screen Crush Problem

Top Five

Somewhere within the first 30 minutes of Top Five, I knew it was happening. I was developing a crush on Chelsea Brown, the intelligent, straightforward, free-spirited, recovering alcoholic journalist played by Rosario Dawson. Here’s an exemplification: After 2012, any guy or girl with that asymmetric, shaved at one side hairstyle (aka Skrillex hair) was basically a wannabe in my book. Yet Chelsea/Rosario wore it with a seriousness and confidence that made it work. She wasn’t a wannabe hipster, she was a young intellectual.

She’s flawed for sure, the sobriety chip, the young daughter, the failed romances, she’s nowhere near perfect but perfectly imperfect (call me John Legend). She lies, hooks up with her subject (a pretty controversial movie trope) and holds on to relationships she knows are past their expiration date, but it’s that warts-and-all portrayal of a female character that actually makes me like her for being complex.

Now this isn’t the first time I’ve had this problem, and I can tell from experience I’m not the only person with this problem either. People do tend to search for an ideal partner in characters they see on the screen. It’s the stars aligning with writers, actors, and directors doing their jobs exceptionally. It’s been an ever-growing list for me, though mostly with small-screen women: Buffy Summers, Veronica Mars, Maeby Funke, Peta Wilson’s Nikita, Maggie Q’s Nikita, Laurel Castillo, the list goes on. I guess I’m definitely into the headstrong and inquisitive.

Sure they’re not real, but they’re formed from fragments of different real people. Christian Grey is a BDSM fanatic from a book with questionable prose, women have still fantasized about him, and Captain America, and Edward Cullen, heck even Jack Sparrow! And the guys, don’t even get me started on fanboy tourneys based on female action characters. My interests are simply less fantastical(barring a vampire slayer and a rogue spy of course). Although the trap of raised expectations in the real world persists.

But on the big screen particularly, a Chelsea Brown is still kind of rare. She does help the male lead, Chris Rock’s Andre Allen, go through his own story arc, but not just as his foil or love interest. She has her own narrative, in fact a good chunk of Top Five tells her story, making her fully-formed and that much more appealing. Her mistakes in life made her better and smarter, and there is nothing to be changed, not even the haircut.

Oscar Nominations: What The Hell Guys?

oscars+2015

Before I unload my outrage, I want to maintain that Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the best president A.M.P.A.S has had since Frank Pierson. And based on ‘Dick Poop’, ‘Richard Link-Later’, and an embarrassed moment of silence after announcing the Best Director nominees, she was clearly as shaken as most of us by how The Academy voted this year.

Yeah, isn’t it? To be honest, I smelled disappointment beforehand. Antonio Sanchez’s score for Birdman was disqualified, a good number of impressive films didn’t make the Foreign Language shortlist, and Whiplash was deemed an adapted screenplay.

Then suddenly (like 3 days ago), everyone started falling in love with American Sniper despite it being laced with inaccuracies all over. But since it released wide rather late, it didn’t have to shield itself from accusations the way Selma did for two whole weeks. Deep down, I was scared Selma would pay the price for Sniper‘s upsurge. There was also some overlooking from all the Guilds, but even that didn’t matter.

Here’s an entire pile of shocking snubs in the wake of the nomination announcement:
Selma in most major categories: I called it months ago on this very blog, I said Ava DuVernay will find being nominated much harder than her male counterparts. But I still hoped to be dead wrong, and for a while it seemed that I would be, DuVernay would make history. Today, I hate that I predicted that and I’m amazed that despite her film being superior to three of the nominees (no names will be named), she’s the one who got left out. Moreover, David Oyelowo’s universally acclaimed performance was also ignored in favor of Bradley Cooper. Best Actor, a crowded race this year, was bound to yield some disappointment (Gyllenhaal and Spall also robbed), but Oyelowo was a lock till the last minute, his absence is inexplicable. Bradford Young is the future, his cinematography elevates any indie in quality, also not nominated.

Life Itself: Steve James, the man notoriously overlooked for Hoop Dreams 20 years ago, found himself in the same position with his latest documentary feature despite the acclaim. Roger Ebert would give this move Two Thumbs Down.

Benoit Delhomme: If there’s one fantastic thing about The Theory Of Everything, it’s the breathtaking cinematography. But since Academy voters almost never honor groundbreaking camerawork and lighting (because DP’s should only be people who can shoot vistas of mountains and trees) and thanks to the Reserved For Roger Deakins Spot, younger virtuosos like Delhomme and Young don’t get their due.

Gillian Flynn: The only female scribe with a realistic chance of a screenplay nomination for Gone Girl, was missing from the final list of nominees, a revelation that belied months of Oscar buzz. Flynn used to be a film critic for Entertainment Weekly, could this be a vendetta against her by the voters?

Douglas Crise and Stephen Mirrione: They were supposed to win Film Editing for Birdman, not even nominated. It feels like a cruel joke, except that it isn’t.

Force Majeure: Another apparent lock (in Foreign Language Film) was somehow not in the final five, even though the race seemed down to it and Ida (both films are spectacular btw).

To be completely fair, it isn’t a total letdown, here are some of the pleasant surprises:

Beyond The Lights, the poignant yet little-promoted drama by Gina Prince-Bythewood got some love in Best Original Song with Grateful, a Diane Warren pseudo-ballad. Although, Fly Before You Fall made a far better candidate.

Marion Cotillard landed a Best Actress nod for her phenomenal work in Deux Jours, Une Nuit, and it’s pretty well-deserved. But must say, it’s hard not to feel bad for Jennifer Aniston after the tireless campaigning she did with Cake.

And FINALLY, Wes Anderson got some deserved nominations beyond his staple screenplay nod for The Grand Budapest Hotel, one of my favs this year and one of his best works.

2013 was pretty disappointing in terms of the snubs too, culminating with a horrible ceremony hosted by Seth MacFarlane (We Saw Your Boobs anyone?). But after last year’s wonderful turn, I was hoping things were looking up but clearly, this was a backlash year. Here’s hoping better for 2016.

Maya Angelou’s Spirit Lives On With Caged Bird Songs.

caged bird songs

One of the saddest losses this year was that of Dr. Maya Angelou. The woman and her work have been inspirational to me ever since my teens. Luckily, I’m not the only one whose life she touched, and her work is being reanimated in a whole new way. Presenting Caged Bird Songs, a collection of 13 soul-stirring Angelou poems set to music.

The album’s name is clearly inspired by her autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Dr. Angelou’s vocal recordings are placed on tracks created by RoccStar and Shawn Rivera of the R&B group Az Yet, and beautifully capture her famous rhythmic delivery with Jazz, Soul, and Hip-Hop orchestrations.

Here’s the video for Harlem Hopscotch. Despite its age, this poem with it’s playful allusion to cultural adversity is all the more relevant today in the wake of tragedies like Ferguson and Eric Garner.

Produced with the help of Oprah Winfrey’s OWN and directed/choreographed by Napoleon & Tabitha D’umo, the video is a dancing delight with twists and jerks. Well known names in dance make appearances including Nia Peeples, Quest Crew, Derek Hough, Ian Eastwood, Zendaya, and reigning Dancing With The Stars champions Alfonso Ribeiro & Witney Carson.

For other tracks of the album, visit here: http://cagedbirdsongs.com/#about