"It happens to us once or twice in a lifetime to be drunk with some book which probably has some extraordinary relative power to intoxicate us and none other; and having exhausted that cup of enchantment we go groping in libraries all our years afterwards in the hope of being in Paradise again." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I'm ~Geektastic~ on Goodreads
@atroskity on Twitter
I know one of the appealing aspects of the Starks is their harsh code of honor. But come on guys, get your shit together! I know what is coming- not like you can avoid be spoiled for a certain crimson matrimonial catastrophe these days-- but I can't wait for the Starks to realize there is more than one kind of honor. Tywin may be an evil prick, but at least he has foresight, unlike a few honorable-but-soon-to-be-dead northerners I could name.
This series is eating me alive (in a good way, I guess).
I'm still flailing around trying to figure out the technology that is at the center of this story- nearly halfway through and no exposition, which is great and also a little frustrating for the part of my brain that wants the technical stuff to be clearer. And yet, still enjoying it despite feeling like I only understand 50% of what is going on. Impressive work.
I'm still struggling through a reading rut. I've started and/or completed a few things, but not like "usual" for me. This wouldn't be a big deal except honestly I really, really need to find something that really sucks me in, because the more time I spend in the real world, the more I hate it. I'm full of anger about so many things and reading usually helps keep that under control. The Stanford case, the dude-bro responses to reasonable complaints about the Apocalypse poster, politics, high-profile abuse cases, someone straight up telling me that women and men have achieved equality and that 3rd wave feminists are "destroying everything the earlier feminists did for us"... The real world sucks, I don't like people, and I really, really need books to save me.
Top Ten Tuesday May 10: Ten Websites I Waste Time on That (mostly) Aren't About Books
(Concept, topic, and logo all from The Broke and the Bookish)
Tor: I know the guidelines are for sites not about books, but I actually don’t really use the Tor site for book stuff. Rather, it is one of my go-to places for TV recaps and reviews. I also love when they do re-watches and re-reads of older work and see how it holds up (a hobby of mine I would like to have time to indulge more).
Flavorwire: A culture site devoted to books, art, television, film, current events, etc. I respect their writers and their occasionally contrarian reviews of popular media.
The Sartorialist: I love street style, and The Sartorialist is the premiere place to see amazing style all over the world and on people of all genders and ages (a rarity for street style blogs).
Io9: There is a definite pattern emerging, as this is another place I go to frequently for pop culture updates and television recaps.
Kotaku: More pop culture, usually focused on video games but sometimes just random Japanese trends.
Refinery29: Fashion, makeup, beauty. All that good "girly" stuff plus articles on sex, relationships, etc.
Buzzfeed: Who doesn’t waste the occasional block of time on Buzzfeed listicles? They also do pretty good long form journalism.
Vulture: A go-to place for what's going on in all the TV shows I don't watch but am inexplicably interested in.
The Daily Beast: Like Vulture, but often a little more insightful and with more space given to current events as well as entertainment. I’m always looking for more pieces like Arthur Chu’s “Your Princess is in Another Castle.”
Pinterest: This is the only social media I’m including, since it’s really the only social media I spend huge swathes of time on, mostly for closet inspiration and to find really amazing costume ideas and cosplay.
Ten Child/Young Adult Characters You’d Love to Revisit as Adults
Attempting to put this list together has shown me how very few books I’ve read with child or young adult protagonists whose adult lives I never see. Or whose adult lives I would care much about, honestly. I don’t think I’ll make it to ten, but here goes:
Junior, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I would really like to know if everything Junior went through turned out OK. Did his education off the res give him the leg-up he was hoping for? Did his dad ever deal with his drinking problem? Did his family ever catch a break?
Romeo and Juliet, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. For the sake of this list, I would like to imagine they didn’t die. How long would it have taken them to realize they made a terrible mistake and that declaring undying love for someone and tying yourself to them for life before you’ve even finished puberty (or known them longer than a week) is really, really dumb?
Matilda Wormwood, Matilda by Roald Dahl. You just know Matilda grew up to do amazing things. Did she keep her powers? Did she outgrow them? Did she grow up to be the world’s coolest librarian or did she start writing her own books? Personally, I’d like to think she grew up to be much like Mara Wilson, the actress that played her in the film.
Sophronia from the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger. Thanks to the series being part of the Parasol Protectorate universe, we do see a couple of the girls all grown up. But what about Sophronia? A whole series of her adventures as a badass secret agent would be so much fun, and I would love to see her meet other characters from the Parasol events (besides the ones she went to school with).
Eleanor and Park from the eponymous novel by Rainbow Rowell. JUST TELL ME IT WORKS OUT. Theirs is perhaps the only adolescent romance I’ve ever rooted for in the long term.
Well, I think that’s the best I can do. It’s a bit of a conundrum: if an author creates a really compelling character, it’s natural to want to see more of them. And yet, if they tell the story right, they rarely leave me feeling like I need more. Sometimes a great character is great specifically because their story arc fits perfectly, and I simply don’t need anything else.
(Original Top Ten Tuesday concept, topic, and logo via The Broke and the Bookish)
Not a perfect list (since there is no such thing) but not bad either.
No one is going to convince me to get up 15 minutes earlier to do ANYTHING-- even read-- but I think I'm going to try at least a few of these.
Fabulous Five Friday: Comic Book Adaptations
I’m sticking with a movie theme for some reason this month. These aren’t necessarily the absolute Top Five adaptations, but they are five that I’ve enjoyed immensely and I think do great service to their source material.
The Netflix take on the MCU: Jessica Jones and Daredevil (2015-ongoing)
I’m putting these both together to 1) make room for another title I really want to include, and 2) because they’re successful for similar reasons. “Dark and gritty” is quickly getting worn out in the world of comic book adaptations, but these titles get it right. Both titles give us imperfect, complicated heroes and two of the most terrifying villains on screen to date. They’re similar in that they’re both different kinds of crime shows, and yet different enough that one doesn’t feel like a rip-off of the other.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
I mentioned the dark and gritty problem above, and this is one adaptation that completely bypasses it for humor and even goofiness without sacrificing character or emotion. The characters and the story are just so much fun, and yet there are moments that made me tear up. Bonus points for making Guardians a top-tier franchise after playing on the B-lists for so long.
Another one that is just plain fun. Dirty, filthy, meta fun. Ryan Reynolds was born to be the merc with the mouth and I’m so glad he fought for as long and hard as he did to get it made. There have been a lot of arguments as to whether it was really “necessary” to go R-rated; I think it’s a refreshing way to expand comic adaptations out of the paint-by-numbers PG-13 place they’ve ended up lately.
The Dark Knight (2008)
You can’t talk about recent adaptations without talking about Dark Knight, and specifically Heath Ledger’s Joker. I have watched this film probably a dozen times and he blows me away. Every. Single. Time. It’s the rare sequel film that “overstuffs” with two villain plotlines and does it well, surpassing the first film by leaps and bounds.
The non-superhero black sheep of the list. The original graphic novel memoir by Marjane Satrapi is translated almost exactly to the screen—the animation mimics the art, and very little gets cut or moved around. It’s an absolutely beautiful book that makes for an excellent film.
Any good ones I missed?
(Warning: this review is super long)
I received an ARC of this title from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. It is scheduled to be published for wide release May 3, 2016.
The title We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement sounds like a pretty straightforward condemnation of the sea change that has taken place in American culture regarding feminism. But as with all political movements, nothing is ever simple.
Feminism has become a buzzword. It garners clicks for celebrity interviews and can sell anything from building blocks to underwear. How has a word so long associated in the mainstream consciousness with angry, unattractive malcontents become a marketer’s dream? This is the convoluted journey Andi Zeisler tackles in We Were Feminists Once. There are many paths to trace in the search for the shifting meaning of a political movement, but one thing is for sure: they almost always lead to money.
Zeisler, former riot grrrl and one of the founders of Bitch magazine, turns a harsh lens on the many industries that have coopted a political movement about equality in order to strip it for parts and make a profit: the fashion industry, Hollywood, the Internet and social media, even food and soap brands. When once it was a real challenge to find almost any female role models in the realm of popular culture, it’s now all too easy to choose among Strong Female Characters in various bland, marketable flavors. Food companies that once appealed “family values” now peddle female empowerment in a jar. Celebrities who have distanced themselves from feminism and its “anti-men” clichés now clamor to endorse it and adopt it into their personal brand. The pendulum swings from one extreme to the other; the middle ground passed through only to get from point A to point B.
We are seeing a rise in interest in gender parity and diversity in film, television, advertising, politics, and other public arenas, but are we seeing any genuine gains in this inclusion? With marketing smoke and mirrors it is really hard to say. If you go to Buzzfeed and type “feminist” into the search box, it will return with dozens of lists and articles with titles like “40 Things Only Internet Feminists Will Understand” and “15 Reasons Taylor Swift is Secretly a Feminist.” But, you may ask, isn’t this visibility a good thing? This is where it gets the most complicated, as the answer is both yes and no. The increasing visibility of feminism makes it feel open to more people and a wider discourse, but at what cost? Usually, as Zeisler makes increasingly clear, the cost is substance and legitimate political engagement.
Feminism is not the only buzzword that is rapidly losing meaning as its use increases. Another casualty Zeisler chalks up to the linguistics of marketing is the word “empower.” Once a signifier of self-sufficiency in the under-served and underprivileged, it can now be tacked on to anything woman-related. Have you ever been empowered by lipstick or deodorant? Well, now you can be. In 2003, The Onion announced “Women Now Empowered by Everything a Woman Does,” and the marketing chant of empowerment continues to ring in our ears more than a decade later. As Zeisler points out, “[advertisers] use the term as an all-purpose adjective, Mad Libs-style; pop it anywhere in that sentence, it’ll make sense.” And the overuse of the word isn’t the most troubling aspect of its saturation; rather, the gendered way it allows people to talk about women and power without using the actual word power is the really frightening bit.
The market’s embrace of feminism is riddled with cynical strategy. One of many of Zeisler’s examples: in order to be seen as a company that cares about women’s issues, CoverGirl cosmetics donates (loudly and visibly) to breast cancer research, while making no effort to ensure their products are free from known carcinogens. This is where the façade breaks down and feminism becomes just another tool. Are there companies that legitimately care about women’s issues? Sure, but the sheer volume of the market drowns them all together into white noise and leaves us to dig for the truth among the competing and contradictory sounds.
The capitalist marketplace adoption of feminism and the systematic devaluation of it as a movement are both tied to a very particular permutation of commercial feminist values: the idea of “choice feminism” (also known as white feminism). The market is all about choice (or at least the illusion of it) and feminism, in its mainstream-embraced version, has followed suit. It seems that every choice, Zeisler highlights, can be considered feminist if made by a (self-proclaimed) feminist. There is no wrong way to be a feminist! You want to be a stay at home mom? Feminist! You want to work? Feminist! You don’t have an option because you’re poor? Uh…feminist? Choice is a privilege that comes from having options—a privilege bought by feminist organizing and activism—that now negates that activity by reframing it as choice. Choice feminism mirrors capitalism in a disturbing way: trickle down theory fails in both arenas, and yet we keep treating it like it works.
To say there is only one way to be a feminist is categorically wrong. But to say that there is no wrong way to be a feminist is equally misleading. As Zeisler notes “[m]arketplace feminism is seductive. But marketplace feminism is not equality.” And ours is not the first generation to “market” feminism with an eye to the mainstream. Near the end of the book, she breaks it down with harsh truth:
“The feminist movements we’re all most familiar with are ones that were able to be easily understood by outsiders with a minimum of difficulty. Optics mattered: First-wave feminists didn’t want the presence of women of color to put the kibosh on getting suffrage; second-wave feminists didn’t want lesbian and transgender women “tainting” the movement with fringe identities. Both movements were selling a branded image to wary buyers.”
This buyer’s-market sensibility creates an environment of exclusion that has continued to plague feminism from its beginnings to the present day. People of color and LGBTQ individuals still find themselves often on the outside of mainstream feminism, despite the attempts made to bring intersectional feminism forward, and marketplace feminism entrenches the problem further by forever appealing to a mass audience of mostly white buyers with disposable income. In other words, using feminism as a commodity makes it more palatable for the masses but ineffective for those who need it most.
So should we throw away our “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like” t-shirts? Despite her unflinching dissection of the problems inherent in using feminism as a marketing tool, Zeisler is not immune to the charms of seeing feminism portrayed positively in the media; representation matters, after all. Hers is not an all or nothing argument, but rather a call to do what good consumers and activists should always do: look for the truth behind the ad copy and don’t buy everything the media tries to sell you. If “[f]eminism these days really does look brighter and funnier, cooler and easier than ever before” you must also remember that
[t]he problem is—the problem has always been—that feminism is not fun. It’s not supposed to be fun. It’s complex and hard and it pisses people off. It’s serious because it is about people demanding that their humanity be recognized as valuable. The root issues feminism confronts—wage inequality, gendered divisions of labor, institutional racism and sexism, structural violence and, of course, bodily autonomy—are deeply unsexy.
What comes after our current climate of marketplace feminism? “Postfeminism” as a concept came to the fore in the 80s, to suggest that feminism was over and we had “won,” since we had a few token females in the major fields and more empowerment than we knew . If we can’t actually be post-feminist—and we certainly can’t anytime soon-- Zeisler hopes we can instead embrace post-marketplace feminism. To sum up, she gives us this:
I want idealism to be more than a passing fad. I want feminism to be meaningful long after no one is singing about it, or name-checking it on red carpets, or printing it on granny panties…. A post-marketplace-feminism world may not be as headline worthy, but it will be a world that benefits more than a commercially empowered few.
I’ve always considered myself fairly knowledgeable about feminism and how easily the media warps women’s issues for it’s own purposes, but We Were Feminists Once uncovered facets of the current state of things that I have been blind to and articulated sentiments I have not been able to put my finger on. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for all that clickbait about feminist comebacks and however many times feminists did something on Tumblr. These things don’t necessarily need to go away—most are simply for laughs and internet solidarity. But while we’re laughing and patting celebrities on the back for making feminist statements, we also need to be legitimately engaging with equality (and the lack thereof) in the real world.
We were feminists once. So let’s be feminists again.
I'm in a reading slump. I can't seem to get into anything right now. I need to finish A Doubter's Almanac for my book club meeting on Friday, but I'm only about 20% through (it's over 500 pages) and can't seem to latch onto the story, even though I think it's interesting enough. Le sigh.