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Thumbnails 8/17/2013


"Why I Hate Strong Female Characters." For The New Statesman, Sophia McDougall shows how the fashionable modern signifiers of a "strong" female character perpetuate stereotypes about weak, girly women. Related: "How Hollywood's Disinterest in Women Could Waste a Generation of Outrageously Talented Actresses," by Alyssa Rosenberg. See also:"We Need More Coming-of-Age Films With Female Leads and Characters of Color," by Candace Frederick of ReelTalk. "

"I remember watching Shrek with my mother. '

The Princess knew kung-fu! That was nice,' I said. And yet I had a vague sense of unease, a sense that I was saying it because it was what I was supposed to say.  

She rolled her eyes. 'All the princesses know kung-fu now.' ... 

No one ever asks if a male character is “strong”. Nor if he’s 'feisty,' or 'kick-ass' come to that. 

The obvious thing to say here is that this is because he’s assumed to be 'strong' by default. Part of the patronising promise of the Strong Female Character is that she’s anomalous. 'Don’t worry!' that puff piece or interview is saying when it boasts the hero’s love interest is an SFC. 'Of course, normal women are weak and boring and can’t do anything worthwhile. But this one is different. She is strong! See, she roundhouses people in the face.'"


"White is the New White." For The Nation, Aura Bogado watches NetFlix's widely-praised white-collar prison drama "Orange is the New Black." She is not impressed.

"Orange Is the New Black fans tell me I need to give the series a real chance. If I can just get through the first two episodes, I’ll be content by episode three. And so I watched and cringed through six whole episodes, called it quits and hope to never again see another one in my entire life. With very little exception, I saw wildly racist tropes: black women who, aside from fanaticizing about fried chicken, are called monkeys and Crazy Eyes; a Boricua mother who connives with her daughter for the sexual attentions of a white prison guard; an Asian woman who never speaks; and a crazy Latina woman who tucks away in a bathroom stall to photograph her vagina (the pornographic image is indiscriminately paraded throughout an entire episode)."


"Linda Lovelace is Not a Porn Star." By Conner Habib, for Slate.  

"I’ve wanted to be in porn since middle school, when I understood that performers made each other and audiences feel good for money. It seemed like an honest use of time; plus, all the popular kids thought it was cool. When I was old enough to do it, I waited for over a decade, thinking about my reasons for wanting to participate before I actually decided I was ready. All the women in porn I know have similar stories."


"Russian Olympics Boycott Won't Help Gays." By Julia Ioffe, for The New Republic. Related: "Russian Journalist Dmitry Kiselyov defends 'homophobic' comments in TV debate," by Roland Oliphant of London's Telegraph. See also: "Pole vault star Isinbayeva a symbol of Russian homophobia," by Philip Hersh of The Chicago Tribune. 

"'Boycotting the Olympics will do several things, none of which includes improving the lives and human rights of gays in Russia,' says Alexander Kliment, a Russia analyst with the Eurasia Group. '[Russian premier Vladimir] Putin, and most of Russia, relish this kind of reproach from Europe or the U.S., because they view it as confirmation of Russian ethical and spiritual fortitude in the face of decadent Western naggers. So the frame of reference is entirely different. This is not a human rights issue for Russia; this is a religious and cultural issue for Russia, just the way gay rights and gay marriage are cultural and religious issues for the right in the U.S." 


"Inside the Weird Texas Tradition of Enormous Homecoming Corsages." By Jenna Sauers of Jezebel. She's writing about Nancy Newberry's photographs, including the one at the left and at the very top of this page. Click the link to see more. They're terrific. 

"Like any piece of clothing, mums communicate complex messages about the wearer's social class and status. Particularly popular kids wore more and more elaborate mums, explained one friend: 'On the cheer squad we had bigs and littles and we made homemade garters for each other. And sometimes your family would get you a mum, too, in addition to the one your date got you. So you could have two mums and a garter if you were really special. It was insane.'" 



Still frame from Community and Girls actor Donald Glover's short film "Clapping for the Wrong Reasons." Analyzed, rather derisively, by Maggie Lange at Gawker.


"Hal Hartley's Must-See Moments." By Kevin B. Lee, for Fandor.

Matt Zoller Seitz

Matt Zoller Seitz is the Editor at Large of, TV critic for New York Magazine and, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism.

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