Subjectivity and the male gaze: in defense of that controversial scene in 13 Reasons Why

SPOILERS FOR 13 REASONS WHY ABOUND!

The controversies surrounding 13 Reasons Why have been numerous and well-enumerated; critics claim that the show glorifies teen suicide by presenting it as a suitable revenge for bullying, that portraying teen suicide at all (especially using attractive young actors) is irresponsible, and that Hannah’s rape scene is triggering for victims. But arguably the biggest point of contention is Hannah’s suicide scene, which is incredibly disturbing. It’s one thing to hear about a child slitting their wrists, it’s another thing altogether to see it happen in graphic detail.

But does the graphic nature of the scene automatically make it irresponsible? I’m not a mental health professional, so I can’t comment about whether the show is responsible about suicide on the whole. But in regards to this particular scene, I tend to agree with 13 Reasons Why writer (and suicide attempt survivor) Nic Sheff, who wrote in Vanity Fair that they included as much detail about the act of suicide as possible in order to shatter the “myth and mystique” surrounding suicide, and especially to “dispel the myth of the quiet drifting off.” For those who are worried that the show “glamorizes” suicide, if nothing else, that scene definitely showed viewers that there is nothing glamorous–or peaceful–about the act itself. Continue reading →

Everything new is old again

The Handmaid’s Tale, the novel written by Margaret Atwood, is a devastating and sui generis entry in the annals of dystopia, which stands alongside 1984 and Brave New World in the originality of its exploration of the psychology of a totalitarian society. The Handmaid’s Tale, the TV show being serialized on Hulu, is not.

The show so far is wonderfully acted, both from expected quarters (Elisabeth Moss) and… less-expected (Yvonne Strakovsky, Alexis Bledel). The direction is excellent, and the action is genuinely moving and traumatic. The third episode’s scene of a riot, filmed in slow motion, set to a vaporously slow cover of “Heart of Glass,” was truly haunting.

For all that, though, the show has lost the heart of what made the novel so brutal and revelatory.

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Wonder Woman holds a shield in one hand and a sword in the other, with a gleam of sunlight behind her.

See Wonder Woman. It’s “neat.”

I didn’t see Wonder Woman in an all-female screening. In fact, I was with Keets, and we were sitting near at least two groups of men who had come with no women at all. Which was a good thing, from my perspective; it’s nice to live in a city where people’s appetite for cliché-ridden action movies seems to depend more on their quality than the gender of the top-billed actor.

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Links We Loved This Week — 4/28/17

The internet is super excited about Hulu’s new adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale (as are we, and not just because Rory is in it, we swear).

We missed this when it first came out a couple weeks ago: Brian Edwards penned a nuanced exploration of Homeland‘s attempts this season to interrogate and perhaps undo the Orientalism it hath already wrought, and the “double bind” it faces by still needing to play on our suspense and anxieties. Very worth reading. (at the LA Review of Books)

The SCP Foundation just wrapped its contest for writing SCP-3000. If you haven’t come across the Foundation before in your Internet itinerations, you can think of it as a collaboratively-written X-Files—the contest is a particularly interesting way to see how something like that comes together.

Previously.tv summarizes season 1 of ER in one headline per episode. There are many gems, but my favorite is “Oh My God We Get It Jen And Mark Like To Fuck (Not That The Interminable “Ma Benton Needs To Go In A Home” Arc That Starts Here Is Much Of An Improvement).”

For Earth Day, Read This Beautiful Icelandic Book

When Bjork blurbs a book using fully 8 exclamation points (“A true pioneer!!!!!!!!”), that’s probably all the motivation you need to read it. But I’m going to add my two cents: this Earth Day, you should read Oddny Eir’s slim, inventive feminist-environmentalist hybrid novel/journal/essay collection, Land of Love and Ruins.

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11 Unpopular Opinions About Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Today is the twentieth anniversary of one of the shows that changed my life (or, since I started watching when I was nine, determined it): Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In so many ways, Buffy is the quintessential 90s show (mostly because of the so-bad-they’re-good outfit choices), but two decades later, it still stands up as a feminist, literary work of art, one that spawned an entire academic field, not to mention an impassioned, opinionated fandom.

There are a few things almost all Buffy fans can agree on: seasons 2, 3, and 5 were the best, Dawn was the fucking worst, and no one cares about Riley. But there are at least a few aspects of Buffyhead dogma that I can’t get behind. Here are my eleven most unpopular opinions about Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Continue reading →

Nashville Recap: 5×05 “Love Hurts”

OK guys. I, your dilatory Nashville recapper, have been looking forward to recapping this TRAGICALLY MISOGYNISTIC episode for so long now, and since then, this show has descended into such a pit of bathos and absurdity that I almost… almost… feel bad about making fun of it. But I have assuaged my guilt by reminding myself that the real sufferers here are not the creators of this show but the people who are watching it.

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