NEW AT BEACON: “All About That Bass: White Girls and Booty”

Published July 16, 2014 by Teresa

This week’s Pop Goes Teresa column over at Beacon actually talks about pop music. Or rather, one particular pop song that my pals Maighread, Jason, and Alison turned me onto.

I discuss Meghan Trainor’s debut single, All About That Bass and how, while it’s a great song, it throws women – particularly skinny women and Women of Color – under the bus.

But it’s still so damn catchy!

EXCERPT:

But even just looking at the photos above – Miley Cyrus during a performance of We Can’t Stop; Lily Allen in her video for Hard Out Here; and now Meghan Trainor’s video for All About That Bass - you can see that even in videos created by white women trying to make a positive statement, black women are being used. Sure there are other white women in the videos, too, but they’re not the ones being grabbed. They’re not the ones being used as visual aids. They aren’t asked to be props in addition to being performers. 

And yes, in the case of someone like Lily Allen, she’s doing something like this to speak out about how wrong it is that this gets done. I get it. But you know that by doing stuff like this, you’re just making it happen more, right? And it’s hard for me to respect a message coming from the Mileys and Lilys and Meghans of the world when they aren’t even willing to bear skin and get grabbed in the same way in their own videos, staying above the demeaning treatment while attempting to comment on it.

Actually, scratch that – of the three examples above, Miley Cyrus is the most balanced! In the We Can’t Stop video, she does grab black women’s asses, but they also slap her ass. What’s more, she grabs other white women and lets them grab her. And also, there are scantily-clad people on both ends of the gender spectrum. Really, she just wants people to live, love, and say who and what they want to. Point: Miley Cyrus. (At least on the video. That live performance was another story…)

If you want to read and comment on my full post, you’ll have to subscribe to my work over at Beacon! For only $5/month, you’ll be able to access Pop Goes Teresa, as well as the work of 100+ other journalists writing about the topics you care about. Check it out! Once there, please click the “Worth It” button on the bottom of my article! (That is, if you actually like what I’ve written.)

Thanks!  :)

The Gift Of Impact

Published July 10, 2014 by Teresa
Me. 35 years ago. :)

Me. 35 years ago. :)

I turn 35 tomorrow. 

Crazy, I know. :)

Anyway, I’ve had a couple of people ask me what I’d “like for my birthday.” And while I appreciate the gesture, and I’m touched that people are thinking of getting me anything at all, I also REALLY LIKE SURPRISES. Honestly, I prefer getting gifts I have no use for but that are surprises to gifts of stuff I need but that I ask for. Surprises are gifts in and of themselves! Even if I never wear the ugly sweater. ;) But usually, people are better gift-givers than they think. Chances are, if you know me at all, whatever you get me will be something I enjoy.

Then again, I never expect anything for my birthday. Times are tough financially, and not everyone has the time to make something. I know there are several people I care about very much that I haven’t been able to give a birthday gift in a long time, because money, because time, because I live so far away…so, I don’t generally expect anything. Usually what matters most to me around my birthday is spending time with close friends or family…and getting to be entirely lazy and self-indulgent for a day (or a weekend).

After all, it’s the only time when it’s legitimately OK to totally celebrate ME! :) So that means only fun things that I want to do, or quality lazy time.

That said, I know there might still be some of you who want to do something to help me celebrate the occasion. For that, I am grateful. If any of you would like to help me commemorate my 35th year on the planet, I would love it if you could send a donation to any of the following organizations: 

WriteGirl: http://www.writegirl.org/
National Alzheimer’s Associationhttp://www.alz.org/
American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/
National Autism Association: http://nationalautismassociation.org/
Kiva: http://www.kiva.org

If you choose to give to one of the national organizations, look up your state’s (or city’s) local chapter and give to them! Your donation will have more direct impact if it doesn’t have to trickle down through the national organization.And here’s the Birthday Present Part: When you’ve made your donation, email me a copy of your receipt at theteresajusinoexperience@gmail.com! I’d love to take screencaps of them to make a gallery that’ll show how much of an impact I’ve had on the organizations I care about! :) (I’ll likely be posting pictures and shouting you out on Twitter – #TeresaBday) Please email them to me by this Sunday, July 13th at 11:59PM. :)

That’s it! That’s all I really want for my birthday. I mean, I certainly won’t turn down a thoughtfully picked-out gift. :) But if you’re struggling to think of something, or if you were looking for an excuse to make a donation to a worthwhile cause, here you go!

NEW AT BEACON: “The Angel of Verdun: Nuanced Female Characters”

Published July 9, 2014 by Teresa

Posts once a week at Beacon. That’s how I wanna roll. :)

Anyway, here’s the latest at my pop culture column over there. It’s about the difference between “Strong Female Characters” and “Nuanced Female Characters” and why I think Rita Vratasky (Emily Blunt) in Edge of Tomorrow is a great example of the kind of female character we should be clamoring to see in films.

EXCERPT: 

I hate the phrase Strong Female Character

“Strong Female Character” carries with it a judgement that I don’t think its users intend. After all, what does “strong” mean? Does it mean physically strong (and so, are we defining strength according to stereotypically male criteria)? Does it mean emotionally strong (and so, does this mean that if a woman cries, falls in love, or protects her children she’s not strong)? Does it mean assertive and ambitious (and so, can more average women not be “strong characters?” And how do we square that with the fact that, with male protagonists, the Hero’s Journey is often defined by his starting out as an ineffectual schlub who grows into leadership. Was he not a “strong character” until the very end)? 

My preferred phrase – and what I think most people mean when they say “Strong Female Character” – is Nuanced Female Character.

What those who want gender parity in pop culture want in their female characters is complexity. We want them to be more than girlfriends, doormats, or prizes to be won. We want them to have their own inner lives and goals in the stories we watch. Even if they’re not the protagonists, we want them to be fully-realized people, not caricatures. We want them to have strengths and flaws. We want them to have, or at least want and earn, agency. Most of all, we want them to have a reason to be in the story that doesn’t boil down to: Plot Device.

If you want to read and comment on my full post, you’ll have to subscribe to my work over at Beacon! For only $5/month, you’ll be able to access all my pop culture criticism, as well as the work of 100+ other journalists writing about the topics you care about. Check it out! Once there, please click the “Worth It” button on the bottom of my article! (That is, if you actually like what I’ve written.)

Thanks! :)

HOTPIXEL POST: The Hot List – Tyler Palmer & Cole Palmer of Patreon

Published July 8, 2014 by Teresa
(left to right) Cole Palmer, Sam Yam, Tyler Palmer, Anthony Privitelli, and Jack Conte. Photo courtesy of Patreon.

(left to right) Cole Palmer, Sam Yam, Tyler Palmer, Anthony Privitelli, and Jack Conte. Photo courtesy of Patreon.

July’s HotPixel Hot List is up at the HotPixel blog, and it’s about a crowdfunding site that I know a lot of you have expressed interest in. I had the chance to speak with Tyler Palmer (Director of Operations) and Cole Palmer (Director of Creator Relations) over at Patreon about what sets their company apart and how a model like Patreon’s can help filmmakers and creators of longer-form content. If you’re curious about that at all, you’ll wanna check this out!

EXCERPT: 

Patreon fills a niche that allows creators who may have fallen through the cracks before – or who have been underpaid by AdSense through YouTube – to have a shot at making a living. Tyler told me the story of the birth of Patreon by telling me how Conte started the site.

“Jack launched his first music video called Pedals, and he spent close to $10,000 on the music video. He got his check from YouTube, from AdSense, in the mail for $120. So, he went into debt making this music video, and that’s why Patreon exists,” he explains with a laugh. He then told a similar story about musician, Molly Lewis, who had 30,000 views on a video that ended up paying her a whopping $60. Her paycheck from Patreon for the same video? $2,300. “I hear the story too many times, from people who have thousands of eyeballs, millions of eyeballs, and then they get their check for fifty-three dollars,” says Tyler. Fan love translates directly into support for the artist without having to go through advertisers, which is one of the many things that makes Patreon special.

Now, this is all very well and good for digital creators of short-form content, but what about creators of long-form content – like, independent films, for example. Can they make a home at Patreon, too?

For the complete article, as well as to leave a comment about it, CLICK HERE.

Together In the Same Room

Published July 7, 2014 by Teresa
Adam and Me at Vasquez Rocks.

Adam and Me at Vasquez Rocks.

As you likely saw on my social media feeds, my writing partner, Adam Hunault, recently came to L.A. to visit for two weeks. It was really great to have him in town for a number of reasons, the first of which (of course) is that he’s one of my best friends and I like having him around in general.

But second, I realized something new while he was here. Or rather, his being here confirmed something that I wasn’t sure was entirely true.

You see, before I moved to L.A. from New York, I resented the fact that if I wanted to write for television, I “had” to move to Los Angeles. After all, tons of shows film in New York, so I didn’t understand why they couldn’t be written there. What’s more, I didn’t understand why one couldn’t just apply for TV-writing gigs, fly to L.A. for an interview if need be, but then join the writers’ room via Skype or Google Hangout or something. Surely, advances in technology should allow for more wiggle room in the television industry! Or so I thought.

Having lived in L.A. for two and a half years now (Time flies when you’re having life!), I realize that there’s no way in hell I could make any headway career-wise without moving my ass out here. It really is all about who you know – and not in a sleazy, superficial, casting-couch kind of a way (there is no Writer’s Couch that I know of, but if it gets that soap-operaesque, I’ll let you know). In the entertainment industry, and particularly when it comes to writing, it seems, jobs are pursued and obtained by word of mouth. It’s more likely that you’ll get your first shot at a job from a friend of a friend who works at a studio than it is to “apply” for a job (however one would even do that – especially without an agent). The entertainment industry is based in large part on people helping each other out. So, if you’re not out here to meet those people…well, good luck on Monster.com.

That was the other reason Adam came out here. In addition to seeing me (and writing with me, but more on that later), he was scoping out L.A. to make a final decision as to whether or not he’s going to move out here. As we’ve applied for the writing fellowships, he started to realize that his not being here is a bit of a hindrance. A pro writer I know graciously agreed to write us a letter of recommendation for the ABC Writing Program despite having never met Adam in person. Meanwhile, another pro writer I approached graciously turned us down, in part, because he had never met Adam and didn’t feel comfortable vouching for a team whose members he didn’t all know, which is completely understandable. So, after this two-week trip. Adam is planning on coming out here in a couple of months for a 3-4 month stint to really get a feel for the city in order to make his final decision.

I’ll be glad to have him when he does move out here.

Adam and Me at a friend's birthday pool party. SEE? He HAS to move here, for we have sunshine and pool parties ALL THE TIME.

Adam and Me at a friend’s birthday pool party. SEE? He HAS to move here, for we have sunshine and pool parties ALL THE TIME.

The Needing to Be in L.A. to Pursue a TV Career thing I already knew. The thing that Adam being here really hammered home was the fact that there’s nothing like writing with someone In Person. We’ve been long-distance for our entire partnership (though we’ve known each other for over 10 years, and were housemates for about 7), but our best work has always been when we’ve been able to be in the same room to hash out our ideas. There’s something in the air when your collaborator is in the same room as you. The energy is infectious, and it’s easier to get points across and pick up what your partner is throwing down. It’s also more fun! When we broke our first original pilot, Rocket, it was during Adam’s previous visit to L.A. in February of last year. We had a couple of meetings over dinner for 2-3 hours at a time, and we figured out our show and broke the pilot. Adam went back to New York with a complete outline of the episode, and we worked on finishing our assigned scenes in different cities. When I visited New York in October of last year, we went over our first draft (second?), and hashed out all of our notes, realized what needed fixing, and had massive changes for a new draft. Things that would’ve taken forever to hash out going back and forth over email were handled in a couple of hours. And for some reason, the creative conversation doesn’t run as smoothly over a screen, or over the phone. Those things are great for quick follow-ups or notes. But breaking a story? Getting to the nitty-gritty of a new work? That needs to happen face to face.

I finally understand why all the TV writing needs to happen in one city, and why writers’ rooms need to be attended in person. Hashing out ideas over Skype will never be as effective or organic as sitting in a room with someone, feeling their energy, and telling a story together. So, yeah. Lesson learned.

In the two weeks Adam was here, we not only broke a new pilot (which I’ll tell you more about once it’s more than an outline, but for now the working title is Scion), but we also figured out stories for two new specs of existing shows we want to write. We already have Rocket and our Elementary spec. By the end of the year, we want to finish the Scion pilot, write two new specs, and at least outline a third original pilot. AND, Adam and I are now going to be partnering up on a web series I’ve been wanting to do FOREVER. Now, instead of writing it all myself, I have a partner to help, and he seems as excited about the idea as I am! This summer and fall is all about churning out new material!

Before Adam approached me with the idea that eventually became Rocket, I never thought I’d ever want a permanent writing partner. It gave me heebly-jeeblies to even give an editor control of words I’d written, let alone a partner. Writing was always a solitary activity to me, and I was very protective of my story babies. :) But after working on Rocket, I realize that there are times when having a partner is the best thing for you – having someone who’s on the same page as you as far as the kind of stories you want to tell, but who brings a different perspective that you might never have considered on your own. Someone talented who forces you to step up your writing game lest you get left behind. Someone to hold you accountable.

Someone to write half the fucking pages. ;)

But seriously, allowing myself to have a writing partner for my TV stuff is the best decision I’ve ever made. I feel like I’m doing some of my best writing now, and I’m so glad to be working with someone with whom I don’t feel competitive. We each want great things for the other, and we both want what’s best for our scripts, no matter whose darlings end up getting killed. It’s a great thing.

And I can’t wait until he’s back in L.A. so that we can be writing things together in the same room again.

Me and Adam at Swingers Diner in Santa Monica. He has resting Raspberry Face.

Me and Adam at Swingers Diner in Santa Monica. He has resting Raspberry Face.

But It Can Be

Published July 4, 2014 by Teresa


If you didn’t know me – if you didn’t know Americans – it’d be easy to see my frequent complaints about what the government is doing wrong, my lamenting over how much further we have to go with regard to the rights of women, of homosexuals, of transgender people, of people of color, or of the poor as a sign that I must really hate my country. After all, isn’t loving your country all about defending it to the death and loving it unconditionally? Shouldn’t I be constantly grateful for the freedoms the United States allows me and stop complaining so much?

Think about it like this.

You have a family member or a friend that you love dearly. Does that mean that you let them go on having a drinking or a drug problem without saying anything? Do you let them continue to beat their spouse or children without intervening? Do you let them continually self-harm without being there for them and letting them know they can come to you (or a trained professional) for help?

I love my country. And I AM grateful. I love it BECAUSE it allows me, for the most part, the freedom to express my opinions – positive or negative – without fear of persecution (though that is debatable – see here, here, and here). I love it because being “poor” here pales in comparison to being “poor” elsewhere in the world. I love it, because it is a child or rebellion, and I have a soft spot in my heart for rebellion. However, it’s also the child of genocide and and oppression (Europeans didn’t come to an uninhabited land and start fresh – they stole OTHER people’s freedom in order to establish their own. But the United States’ history is hardly unique in this regard).

See? Love is complicated. Love is not simple or jingoistic. Love can be a difficult, messy business. Love is looking at problems head-on and saying “Hey, I love you, and right now you’re acting against the ideals I fell in love with in the first place, and I respect you enough to tell you so.” And just as I love my friends and family flaws and all, so I love my country. I love it unconditionally, but not blindly. I love it enough to tell it when it’s screwing up.

I’m grateful for my country. For a while there, the United States was a beacon. It was a symbol of how well The Great Experiment could work. But now, well….this:

The big takeaway from that speech from HBO’s The Newsroom is this: First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore. 

That, and Mac’s note:


You might have seen this in my social media feed before, but I recently pledged money to MAYDAY PAC, a group whose sole focus is to help elect government officials and representatives committed to campaign finance reform. One of the biggest problems our government faces right now is that politicians are entirely too beholden to the interests of the 1%, because that 1% has all the money to give. The goal of MAYDAY PAC is to fight fire with fire…at least, until the necessary reforms are made and Big Money is removed from politics. If this is an ideal you share, consider helping get MayDay PAC to its 5 Million Dollar goal by the end of the day today. You can do so by pledging at my personal pledge page HERE, or do it through the main site. As of this writing, they are currently at $4,645,204 with 42128 people pledging. It would be great to not only make the 5 Million, but to have MORE PEOPLE PLEDGE to show that this is a concern that many of us share. So, even if you can only pledge $5 or something, making that second number go up is just as important.

I wanted to write an Independence Day post today that was honest – that expressed my love for my home while being true to the dissatisfaction I feel a  lot of the time. That doesn’t go away no matter what day it is. One thing I can say with certainty is that I love the United States enough to want to stay and fight for it. People joke about moving to Canada and getting the heck out of here. But I’m not letting the United States off the hook that easily. It can be better, and if enough of us care enough to fight for it, it will be.

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

NEW AT BEACON: “When Feminism Becomes a Marketing Tool”

Published July 3, 2014 by Teresa


Finally, a Beacon post about something OTHER than the movie, Noah! :) In my latest over at Beacon, I talk about the current trend of using feminism to market products: when it’s effective, when it isn’t, and whether doing it at all is OK.

EXCERPT:

Not to be left out, Pantene put out an ad that focused on the double standard inherent in labels placed on confident women who work hard (“bossy,” “selfish,” “show-off”) as opposed to men who do the same (“boss,” “dedicated,” “confident”). The ad encouraged women to #ShineStrong (and apparently one way to do that is by washing your hair with Pantene, rather than – I don’t know – getting a Masters Degree), and again put the onus on them to not “let labels hold [them] back,” while not acknowledging that beauty companies are a big reason why women focus so much on their looks as their only asset, which leads to the labels this ad is warning against.

These ads are the equivalent of your older sibling grabbing your hand, slapping you in the face with it over and over, then asking “Why’re you hitting yourself? Why’re you hitting yourself? Why’re you hitting yourself?”

If you want to read and comment on my full post, you’ll have to subscribe to my work over at Beacon! For only $5/month, you’ll be able to access all my pop culture criticism, as well as the work of 100+ other journalists writing about the topics you care about. Check it out! Once there, please click the “Worth It” button on the bottom of my article! (That is, if you actually like what I’ve written.)

Thanks!  :)

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