Badass or Bad: A 100-Day Blue Period

My name is Dana – like Scully – and I have survived 100 days of a nightmare clown president.

It’s still hard to talk about That Thing that happened last November – though a lot of people seem really eager to butt in with their self-assured, self-righteous opinions on why Clinton lost. Not me. In part because I was there. I mean there. In the Javits Center, under that glass ceiling, and by the way, damn you, New York Comic Con, because unless the real Scully carries me infant-style, wrapped securely in a Wonder Woman blankie, through the entire thing, there’s not a chance in hell I’m ever going back in that building.

Also, she won, so shut up.

But I digress – the point is, and the reason this installment is coming from a personal place, this has been a rough 100 days, and no formula or agenda can keep everyone afloat. And personally, there have been a lot of days when staying afloat at all seemed like an impossible task. This project, which began several years ago but is inextricably linked to what’s happened in the past few months, has been one of the things that keeps my head above water. There is no question in my mind (nor in any rational mind) that sexism played an ugly and unprecedented role in this election, and that, more to the point, television played a role in shaping and condoning the attitudes that gave rise to such ugliness. Because there is no middle ground, here – either the images being broadcast are changing attitudes for the better or they’re not. Not making this worse is not enough, and the absence of negative imagery is not an acceptable status quo.

And so when I need that push, I turn to this project and this quest to change the way women are viewed, and I think about all the times Hillary Clinton was called “nasty” or “cold” or “a bitch” and I think, yeah, screw that. I’m not letting that go. And I thank all of you who have been a part of it, who have read or retweeted or considered or conversed.

I’ll keep resisting. I hope you do, too.


Badass: We didn’t get to this one before, but research proved what we already knew – the resistance is being led by women. Thanks, research!

Badass: Sandra Hernandez, the costumer for Shots Fired, has been outfitting Aisha Hinds’ Pastor Janae in an epic series of woke-as-hell t-shirts that have garnered a fandom of their own. It’s easy to forget the importance that costumers play in shaping and representing a character and in giving voice to the things they don’t say onscreen. Not that there’s much that Pastor Janae holds back, but just in case anyone watching is somehow missing the message, Hernandez makes sure that it’s there in black and white, literally.

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Badass: Fake detective/real-life badass Mariska Hargitay premiered her documentary I Am Evidence this week at Tribeca, which takes a hard look at the thousands of untested rape kits backlogged across the country and individuals like prosecutor Kym Worthy who are fighting to see justice served for victims. Mariska began the Joyful Heart Foundation after receiving numerous letters from survivors while playing sex crimes detective Olivia Benson on Law and Order: SVU, and after learning about the backlog, used her prominent role to shine a spotlight on an overlooked injustice and to amplify the voices of survivors. She really does exemplify the best of celebrity activism – advocating and raising awareness on behalf of those in need without appropriating or romanticizing their stories, and the fact that it was survivors themselves who identified her as someone they could reach out to makes it particularly powerful. (THR)

Badass: Another Period co-creators/writers/stars Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome, along with cast members Brett Gelman and Paget Brewster, who totally did not cause me to choke on a Junior Mint when I realized she’d just sat down behind me (I’m fine, by the way), screened the season 3 premiere of their show at Tribeca this week and followed up with a panel that, contrary to what one might expect from a comedy that mashes up Downton Abbey and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, touched on some timely issues (it also touched on Kirk/Spock fan art – or rather, Paget did, when she proudly explained the term “shipping” to her fellow panelists, the moderator, and the audience. Thank god all the Junior Mints were gone by then). The creators talked about delving into the history of the suffrage movement as a part of writing this season’s events, and I won’t give anything away, but they didn’t exactly go for subtlety when it came to comparing the suffragettes to today’s nasty women. Less important but still worth mentioning: promises of #DoPeep. And the difficulty of using a port-a-potty while wearing a bustle, which apparently is something only Paget struggled with, since she’s been using the wrong bathroom this whole time.

Badass: I was delighted to meet and cheers with the ladies of Blue Fever this week and to mingle with their target demo – awesome women who are into film and television. Blue Fever curates content focused on and created by women, because, as they point out, “because mainstream entertainment stars women only 15% of the time” and as half the population, “we deserve more.” Also, the explanation for their name is fantastic: “blue is the most common color on earth, but for thousands of years humans couldn’t perceive the color. Blue was everywhere and nowhere – just like women today.” Not only does that appeal to science nerds and visual art geeks, but the metaphor is beautiful. And, awesome news – you can sign up now for free to view their badass content for a year.

Badass: Nasty purveyor of actual facts Sam Bee is giving the finger to the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner with her own event tonight – the “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.” Because she’s Sam Bee, and she is freaking awesome. Oh, and who’s introducing her? None other than Claudia Jean Cregg, star of the BAMF Files #3.


Bad: The not-actually-failing-in-general-but-in-this-instance-they-did New York Times, which put their review of the new Netflix show Dear White People right on the cover of their Weekend Arts section…which would be great, had they not had a white dude write the review. Look – white men can make valid and thoughtful critiques of things not about or by white men, but the fact that the show is all about race, perspective, and privilege and that it’s showrun by and stars women of color makes it appallingly tone-deaf to have a white man write the prominent review – particularly since the Times doesn’t exactly have to look hard to find a woman of color who has written thought-provoking television reviews that touch on race and gender (we’re talking about Angelica Jade Bastién, whose The Good Fight reviews we’ve praised before).

Bad: Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale is being talked about in language that might suggest it’s the #bravest thing ever to happen – never mind that Margaret Atwood wrote the book decades ago – but the actual creative team…well, they’re not really living up to that. Now, you might argue that the story is more dystopian than some people insist, but the overall themes are still incredibly relevant, and Elizabeth Moss saying “it’s not a feminist story, it’s a human story” is the sort of thing that makes a person want to scream into the void for all eternity. Because it might seem to echo – albeit distantly – the answer Margaret Atwood gave on that subject, but…yeah. It doesn’t.


This week’s recommended readings: thoughts on Girlboss (then watch it and share your own)

Vanessa Bermudez: “Girlboss” is not the feminist show it wants you to think it is

Andi Zeisler: You’re Not the Girlboss of Me – Conflating Capitalism with Feminism in Netflix’s New Series

Teresa Jusino: On Girlboss: “Girls?” “Women?” Either Way We Lose, Because Both Are Considered Diminutive

 

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