SUPERGIRL RADIO: Supergirl – The Movie

Just in case you weren’t paying attention, Episode 2 of Supergirl Radio dropped yesterday, and in it, we talk about the awesome, the amazing, the cheesetastic….Supergirl – The Movie! C’mon. You know you love Helen Slater as Supergirl and Faye Dunaway as Selena!

Description: 

On this week’s Supergirl Radio, your hosts Teresa Jusino and Rebecca Johnson cover news items about CBS’ Supergirl TV series (including Helen Slater’s thoughts on the new show!), and discuss everyone’s favorite superhero guilty pleasure, Supergirl: The Movie, which was the first, live-action incarnation of Kara Zor-El. Join in on the fun as Teresa and Rebecca prepare for CBS’ Supergirl, starring Melissa Benoist!

To listen to the full episode, CLICK HERE. Or you can subscribe to Supergirl Radio on iTunes or Stitcher Radio!

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Selma

 

A scene from Selma.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which I nearly forget every year, if only because I’m a freelance writer who works from home, so it’s been a while since national holidays have had any real impact on my life. However, it was on my radar this year more than usual, because of the film Selma. Selma tells the story of how Martin Luther King Jr. and other activists helped organize a massive protest in Selma, Alabama, at a time when Black Americans were actively being kept from voting booths, leading to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which, in part, required that lawmakers in states with a history of discriminating against minority voters get federal permission before changing voting rules. Selma is currently nominated for the 2015 Best Picture Academy Award, which is completely well-deserved.

David Oyelowo and Selma director, Ava DuVernay.

I saw the film when I was on the East Coast celebrating the holidays, and its fearlessness blew me away, setting me off into discussion after discussion about parallels between the time depicted in the film and the current political and racial climate in the United States. Parallels to Ferguson were obvious. So were the implications of the recent gutting of the Voting Rights Act, which removed the stipulation about federal permission for changing voting rules. It’s starting to feel like the 1960s all over again as voting rights are stripped away, women’s rights are chipped away, and police departments nationwide seem to be militarizing and putting themselves on a pedestal to the detriment of the communities they serve. What amazed (and saddened) me most about the film was that I didn’t feel like I was watching history. The story felt timely and real. That’s frightening. 

David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo.

Also sad was the fact that my two favorite aspects of the film – the brilliant direction of Ava DuVernay and the finely-etched performances of David Oyelowo as MLK and Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King – weren’t nominated for Oscars. (This, as well as the fact that no other minorities were nominated in the acting categories, and no women were nominated for Best Director or Best Screenplay, led to the #WhiteOscars and #OscarsSoWhite hashtags.) DuVernay should’ve gotten a nod for the opening sequence of Selma (where the little girls were blown up in a church in Birmingham) alone, but what I loved about the entire film was that the direction was elegant and beautiful without shying away from the brutality of the violence or the politics.

And oh my God, the performances. It must be daunting to be an actor playing a historical figure – the desire to do right by the subject constantly struggling against the desire to make the performance your own – but Oyelowo and Ejogo always felt like people to me. I didn’t feel like I was watching Martin Luther King, Jr and Coretta Scott King. I was watching Martin and Coretta, a young married couple in a complicated marriage caught in the throes of history and fighting for their lives and the lives of their children. They were complex and nuanced and funny and brilliant and sad. Watching Oyelowo and Ejogo together on screen was a privilege.

So, as you’re thinking about today being Martin Luther King, Jr. day, I’d highly recommend going to see Selma if you haven’t seen it already. May it inspire you to stand up for yourselves and others in the face of inequality and oppression.

And now, a question – one that this film made me think about endlessly: Is there a cause so important to you that you would be willing to risk/give your life? Not your family or friends – but a cause or idea larger than your individual circles that matter that much to you. Why or why not? What would it take to get you to that place? I’d love to hear your experiences/thoughts in the comments below.

NEW AT BEACON: How “The Heat” Is Less Funny in a Post-Ferguson World

I posted this over at Beacon on Friday, but was too lazy to promote it wanted it to be an exclusive for my Beacon subscribers first! I recently saw the Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy film The Heat for the first time recently, and I thought it less funny than I might have thought it in the theater since I watched it post-Ferguson.

EXCERPT:

Now, he was smoking a joint (and very stupidly kept waving it around). She was well within her rights to take him in. There’s no question about that. (We can have a discussion about our outdated, ineffectual, ridiculous drug laws another time) Also, it’s clear from their interaction that he’s had priors. They seem to know each other – probably because she’s brought him in before. My problem was in the way she stopped, not for the joint, but for a charge she just assumed he was guilty of, because he was sitting there “in the middle of all the prostitutes,” and greets him by calling him “My favorite asshole.” Then, she finds something to arrest him for, chases him, rams him with her car, and chases him down leaving the white guy free to escape. She never goes back for the white guy – apparently, because smoking a joint is way worse than soliciting a prostitute (I don’t think there’s anything wrong with either, nor do I think either should be illegal, but I digress…) – but she does manage to take the black kid down by throwing a watermelon at him. But we’re commenting on racism by doing this! That’s what makes this funny!, we’re meant to think. 

If you want to read and comment on my full post, you’ll have to subscribe to my work over at Beacon! Starting at 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! 🙂

NEW AT BEACON: “Why Robin Williams?”

It was pretty inevitable, as it was the biggest pop culture story this week. This week at Pop Goes Teresa, I talk about the passing of Robin Williams.

EXCERPT: 

When the news broke about Robin Williams’ tragic suicide, I wanted to write about it immediately – but I didn’t know what to say. Then everyone started writing about it, and there suddenly didn’t seem like there was anything left to say. From people being more open about their own depression and encouraging those battling with it to seek help, to Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider, revealing that Williams was also suffering from the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, to O Captain! My Captain! and Genie tributes popping up everywhere, it seemed like all the bases were covered. 

What interested me most, though, was not only the size of the outpouring of love and grief after his death, but that a lot of it seemed to come from people of or around my generation. Had it been any other performer in his or her 60s who passed away, I’m not sure the reaction would’ve been the same. It would’ve been understandable if we had a similar reaction to the deaths of people like Heath Ledger or Brittany Murphy, contemporaries who left us way too soon (and might have gotten us thinking about our own mortalities); or legends like Lauren Bacall, who actually passed away three days after Williams at the age of 89, and whose career spanned from Hollywood’s Golden Age to the present. 

So, why Robin Williams?

If you want to read and comment on my full post, you’ll have to subscribe to my work over at Beacon! Starting at 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! 🙂

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

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! 🙂

NEW AT BEACON: “NOAH PART 3: Where Is the Good In All This?”

It’s taken me forever – mostly because I was out of town for a month, and spent a month playing catch-up on various things in my life – but I’ve finally posted the third and final part in my discussion of the film Noah over at Beacon. I hope it was worth the wait!

In this final part, I discuss the thing I liked most about Noah, particularly now in light of stuff like the shooting committed by Elliot Rodger at USCB: the examination of gender, and gender roles.

EXCERPT:

We watch as Ham jealously eyes his brother and Ila’s interactions, wanting the same for himself. It’s understandable for a young person to want a partner, and as a woman with plenty of experience in being single while watching everyone around me pair up, I felt this kid’s pain! The trouble with Ham was that he had somehow gotten it into his head that Being a Man = Having a Wife and Fathering Children, which is a narrow definition. 

As he builds The Ark, Noah (Russell Crowe) gives Ham tasks for which he is to be responsible, including the greatest task of all – caring for the animals. The whole point of The Ark is to allow Creation to go on after the flood, so ensuring the safety of everything on The Ark is extremely important, requiring a high level of maturity and responsibility. Some might say that Noah would only bestow this responsibility on a mature adult – aka (if you’re male) A Man. Yet Ham is so preoccupied with Finding a Wife that he dismisses this great responsibility, runs off to try and find a wife, and when he can’t bring the girl he finds onto The Ark with him, he sabotages his father’s endeavor, allowing an interloper onto the boat (Tubal Cain, played by Ray Winstone), causing all sorts of problems, and eventually being so ashamed that he leaves his family once they do get back onto dry land.

Yet, as we’re seeing all this through Noah’s eyes, we know that Ham has it all wrong. That Real Men aren’t defined by the women they bed or the children they conceive. They’re defined by what they protect and cultivate. They’re defined not by destruction, but by growth. This is an amazing, appropriate, and necessary message in this day and age, when gender roles are shifting and feminism has caused many men to question what their “job” is now. It’s the same as its always been. Protect, create, cultivate. 

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! 🙂

NEW AT BEACON: “NOAH, Part 2: Where Are People of Color In All This?”

My Passover trip home with The Boy got really interesting during the second night seder, when The Boy’s mother’s new friends from shul came for dinner, and they started discussing the politics of Israel. One group of friends seemed more sympathetic to the Palestinians than the other, and it was fascinating to watch them try and reconcile their views with the story of the Exodus. What’s more, the Haggadah we were using contained readings of oppression and liberty and peace from different speakers/writers, and when it was my turn to read something, a reading written by an Arab girl in Haifa whose family home had been taken over by a Jewish family by chance fell to me – not Arab, but the only brown person at the table.

Very interesting indeed.

Anyway, it’s appropriate, then, that my most recent piece at Beacon is the second part in my three-part write-up of the film, Noah, wherein I discuss the complicated issue of race.

EXCERPT:

2) They could midrash everything else, but they couldn’t midrash people of color?

Angels living in rock monsters? Totally fine. Two of Noah’s three sons not having wives with them (which they do in the source material), meaning that either we’re all descended from one couple, or Noah’s sons end up having sex with their twin nieces? Awesome. Hell, a story about A FLOOD THAT KILLS EVERYTHING ON EARTH EXCEPT FOR ONE FAMILY ON AN ARK THAT CAN ALSO FIT TWO OF EVERY SPECIES ON THE PLANET THAT THEY KEEP ASLEEP USING MAGIC INCENSE THAT SOMEHOW DOESN’T AFFECT THE HUMANS TOO? That’s cool.

But having the movie look like “a Benetton ad” is where they drew the line. Hmm…I don’t know… Having the cast not all be one race (that happens to be mine)? That takes me out of the story and makes it less mythical.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING?

If the idea of someone being pulled out of a story, or being unable to appreciate a myth because the world is made to look like the world doesn’t strike you as insane, it should. Because it’s fucking insane.

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!