What’s Up with Gender on Lip Sync Battle? (#queerpop)

Lip Sync Battle is a comedy/singing-competition show based on a Tonight Show segment. It shouldn’t work as its own show, but it does — two celebrities face off against each other in two lip-sync rounds, one no-frills song each in the first round, followed by a round of all-out costumes-and-backup-dancers productions. The audience decides the winner, based on a super-scientific poll of “who’s cheering the loudest.”

It’s super fun to watch and as a half-hour show, it doesn’t get boring by the time it’s over. Of course they always make a huge deal about how hard the competitors have trained, how viciously they’re going to compete, how WINNING THE TITLE IS EVERYTHING. It’s a refreshing change from the other competition shows out there, inevitably trying to convince you their game show really is a life-altering experience that promises career domination in the future. It’s casual and fun — and it knows how to be those things for a modern audience. All the performances are available on Youtube.

What interests me here, though, is gender and how it’s treated on the show. From the very first performance, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson syncing his heart out to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off,” it’s been totally fine for male contestants to do female singers’ songs and vice versa, playing it up rather than playing it down. A selected list:

  • Anna Kendrick’s rendition of “Steal My Girl” by One Direction, making it all about Emily Blunt (because she was up against John Krasinski, Blunt’s husband).
  • John Krasinski doing Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary,” complete with sparkly skirted costume.
  • Terry Crews shouting “SOMETIMES YOU GOTTA GET IT DONE WITH YOUR FEMININE SIDE” after “A Thousand Miles.”
  • Julianne Hough’s version of “I Just Had Sex,” which is entirely about the singer’s penis.

And that really is a shortened list. Cross-gender songs are about as common as same-gender choices, whether the performers make a big production out of it or not.

Here’s my question though. Why is it funny? Is it only funny because we know The Rock isn’t actually “girly,” and Emily Blunt is married to the opponent? Most of the songs are chosen for humor value, either because of the juxtaposition of two different artists or because the song itself is controversial or both, as with Anne Hathaway doing “Wrecking Ball.”

For me, it’s funny because it’s unexpected. Because on the show, nobody cares. You can sing whatever song you want, and it reflects the way the rest of us listen to and appreciate music. I’m gonna sing along with Taylor Swift and with Def Leppard. Because I can, and I want to, and because they both express emotions I am capable of feeling. Because even if it’s not my actual experience, I can still appreciate someone else’s. The Lip Sync Battle songs are classics or well-known popular songs, and I think that’s part of the show’s appeal — it takes celebrities we know and lets us feel like we’re hanging out with them, singing along with the music we all know, the way we do with all the rest of our friends.

What do you think?

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Next week kicks off GLBT Book Month, which uncoincidentally is also Pride Month. I’ll have a list of book and media recommendations, so drop by and add to the list! 

Sunday Post – #queerpop and other updates

Good morning! Updates on stuff today!

Thank you all very much for giving #queerpop a warm welcome last Tuesday! I’ve given the project a mention on my About page and a page of its own, to be expanded as I incorporate regular features within the column and things like that. We’ll have another discussion post this week, should be good! Plus people are sending me their own queer pop culture posts, like this one and this one and this one, and that’s pretty much the best thing ever. Keep it up!

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We talked about “gettingThe Breakfast Club last week. I am indeed appreciating it more as time goes on, BUT. This week I saw Footloose for the first time and it was awesome!!! I didn’t go to high school, I was homeschooled, and I figured that was a big part of not getting Breakfast Club, more so than the generational difference. I could understand what was happening, but not relate to it directly. The cliques and cultural expectations in a religious homeschool group are just very different. So it’s no surprise at all that Footloose had a much bigger impact for me, and I was also really impressed by the nuances of the script — I’d expected something a lot more stylized and simplistic. It was just really good all around. :D What other classic movies should I see?

We're just like Kevin Bacon!

We’re just like Kevin Bacon!

I got my GRE scores back. I got the half-point I needed, so grad-school applications are underway! I need some further info before I can send additional materials, and this being a holiday weekend I don’t expect to hear back until the middle of the week, so there’s still a week or two of application stuff before I can even start waiting for a verdict, but I’m very hopeful and I’ve started making pre-grad-school arrangements. I ordered a new laptop and tablet, so that leaves some car stuff, new glasses, a dentist appointment, and hunting for jobs and apartments and stuff-for-the-apartment as August gets closer. I don’t really like making Arrangements, but under the circumstances I’m thrilled!

What are you up to this week?

Freestyle Writing Challenge – Smoggy Alien Giants

Melissa Barker-Simpson tagged me for the Freestyle Writing Challenge! I followed the rules (below) and I didn’t check my prompt until time to write. I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be fiction or non — it’s not in the rules. Melissa’s prompt seemed more fiction-y, but my nominees can do either. Here’s her prompt:

“The world as we know it has ceased to exist. Describe this new reality.”

And now I begin:

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When the aliens came in their great pod ships, none of us knew what to expect. We imagined they might bring us medicines and sciences, new foods and new words. We also imagined the great guns underneath their ships, and we used movies to fill in our images of destroyed cities. 

We didn’t expect the aliens to ignore us entirely. They were so far beyond us, they didn’t even realize we were sentient beings — or so we assume. The aliens are so tall they step on us without thinking. Our cities are charming and impressive, if slightly irritating. Like anthills. They avoided walking through cities until they could bring poison. Most cities they didn’t even gas, they just waited for the terraforming — xenoforming — to take effect.

We lived on a blue-and-green planet, before. Now we live in a pink one. The aliens sank huge machines in the oceans that partly vaporized the water, spewing out pink smog like smoke machines at a rock concert.

The smog killed most of the humans, but some of us adapted. Instead of walking, we swim and float in three dimensions. Those of us who survived the change can eat the new food and breathe the new air, and we’ve been freed from the land for good. We can hardly imagine how we were bound to the Earth’s surface like crawling beasts!

Still the aliens wade through the mist, never seeing us at all… unless they raise their shoes to check for bugs, of course. But even if they do find human remains on their soles, why would they ever care?

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268 words in 15 minutes. I really have no idea what this is. Just some strange imagery, I suppose. If I had time I would’ve added some things, given it a sort of “point” or central thought about how the speaker thinks the aliens are great benefactors and the possibility of being stepped on is worth it for the ability to fly, but I refrained from the urge to go over my time. It was definitely fun to write so quickly on a totally new and unexpected prompt, but also a challenge worthy of the name!

Here are my nominees: Alex Hurst, Atherton’s Magic Vapour, Cindy GriggEclectic Alli, Not a Punk Rocker, Only Fragments. (As always, if you don’t have the time or inclination to fool with it, just consider this a no-strings shoutout! And if you’re not listed but feel inspired, go for it!)

And here are the rules:

1. Open a new document.

2. Set a stopwatch or your mobile phone timer to 5, 10, or 15 minutes, whichever challenge you think you can beat.

3. Your topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH YOUR TIMER!!!

4. Fill the word doc with as many words as you want. Once you start writing do not stop.

5. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spelling and grammar using spell check (it’s only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules).

6. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation or capitals. However, if you do, it would be best.

7. At the end of your post write down ‘No. of words = ____” so that we would have an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.

8. Do not forget to copy paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees and copy paste these rules with your nomination (at least five (5) bloggers).

And here is your prompt:

“Write a scene of inconvenient emotion.” 

I Don’t Care About NBC’s Constantine (#queerpop)

#queerpop (5)I had thought to start #queerpop with a post on why representation matters, something “intro”-y like that… But there are so many timely topics to post about that for the moment, my assumption is that you know why representation matters. So let’s jump right in to the pop culture discussion!

NBC's ConstantineJohn Constantine is a DC Comics character, a working-class magician. He was letter J for my A to Z of LGBT Comics Characters in April, because he’s bisexual. He got his own TV show on NBC, and it just got cancelled. Cue “save our show” campaigns. Now, if you love Constantine, and you’re upset it’s cancelled, I certainly hope your campaign is a success and you get your show back. But other than that I really can’t find it in me to care. Because this Constantine is not bi.

Maybe this is hypocritical of me. I know people who really like the show. I kinda really liked the 2005 Constantine movie, and he wasn’t bi in that either, but at the time I didn’t know any better… And even now that I know better, I love plenty of other shows with terrible-or-absent bi representation. There’s just something about how this one was handled that really puts me off.

I don’t insist that everything I watch be about a bi person, or even a queer person! By no means! But Constantine is a bi person, and the people behind the NBC show purposefully made him not be a bi person, have said repeatedly in interviews that they know about this aspect of the character but on this show, he is not and will not be a bi person. That is called erasure, and it’s a problem in itself, but it also makes me feel unsafe with the show. I am a bi person, and this clearly indicates that I am not welcome.

I don’t get NBC, or any other channels… When I’m watching an ongoing show, I’m either bumming it off friends’ TVs or I have to buy each episode as it comes out. Nobody I know is watching Constantine, so I only have one option. Do you think I’m spending money on a show when its creators don’t want me to? No I am not.

What do you think? I’ve heard the first season is pretty good once it gets going, and I’ve attempted to convince myself to try it out on several occasions, but I just can’t do it, and this is why. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Not into comics? No problem. Next week we’re talking about Lip Sync Battle. Don’t miss it!

Bomb Queen (Blood, Boobs & Carnage Blogfest)

Blood-Boobs-Carnage-BlogfestOn May 18, 2015, post about a movie, television show, book, or all three that falls into the category of Blood, Boobs, and Carnage. (Or just Blood and Carnage or other mixture.) It can be any genre that fits the bill – fantasy, science fiction, action, adventure, western, thriller, etc. Post the badge and visit other participants. Hosted by H. M. Gardner.

As my blogfest pick, I have for you (no surprise) a comic! Bomb Queen by Jimmie Robinson, first published in 2006 by Image Comics. The idea is that Bomb Queen, originally one of four supervillains in New Port City, has eliminated the other three queens as well as all the city’s superheroes, leaving herself as dictator. This is old news — the comic is set when she’s well-established. Volume one has several attempts to depose her, both legally and superheroically, but she was never in any real danger.

So, what we have is a villainness who can do anything she wants, who “rules” a city but really doesn’t care much what happens there. The comic turns this up as far as the dial goes, an utterly unrealistic festival of blood and crime and sex.

Omnibust CoverSo, here’s the question… Is it exploitation, or is it satire? Jimmie Robinson himself doesn’t seem to know. He says in his introduction to volume one that maybe it’s everything. He just wanted to push as many buttons as possible, but he was also paying attention to his message. Bomb Queen’s utterly-improbable costume is fanservice, but it’s also a satire of the already-improbable costumes women are poured into in comics. She’s a satire of heroes and villains both, but she’s also a coherent character with her own agency and power, who simply does not care about anything, except possibly maintaining her position and style of living. “Blood, Boobs & Carnage” calls up images of female objectification, but also glorying in depictions of violence, and Bomb Queen deals with that even more clearly — no one can “defeat” Bomb Queen, because her subjects love seeing her blow things up, and they don’t mind the legalized “crime zones” a bit.

It’s an interesting comic, to be sure. I still haven’t quite figured out how I feel about it. If you like Mark Millar’s work on other over-the-top sexy-violent comics like Wanted or Kick-Ass — and I haven’t quite decided about those yet either — then you’ll want to check this one out. Be warned, it’s totally NSFW. Also, if it doesn’t SHOW a type of sex or violence, it probably mentions it in the ever-present newscasts, including child-related crimes.

Sunday Post – Caffeinated #Queerpop Edition

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If we were having coffee, I’d be pretty excited about it. :D I’m mostly limiting caffeinated coffee to writing sessions at the moment, but in virtual coffee time, I can be as hopped up as I want and it won’t hurt a thing later on!

Biggest excitement: #queerpop starts on Tuesday. It’s a weekly series about queer issues and pop culture, and also a hashtag for general discussion on Twitter. I’ve tweeted a few links and such to the hashtag already, kind of a soft open. Much like this post, I suppose… The idea is to chit-chat, not any big organized thing. I’m pretty excited anyway though, I’ve got a long list of possible posts and guest posters, and I think it’ll be fun! I hemmed and hawed around for a while trying to think of a good post to start on, and then I decided to just jump in headfirst, so Tuesday’s post isn’t really an intro… It’s about Constantine. But I think it’ll touch on why representation matters at all, which is basically the underlying point of the whole series, so please do come back and chat Tuesday!

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Base logo thing for future elaborations.

If we were having coffee, I’d also want to talk about The Breakfast Club, which I finally got around to watching this morning. If this is a significant movie to you, I’d love to hear why. I’m thinking maybe it was significant in context…? I can somewhat appreciate the extended-bottle-episode style and the things it’s saying about teenagers that are still true, but I don’t have any emotional connection to it. Maybe it’s just me. Or maybe it’s like Labyrinth, and I just need a while to think about it before I’ll realize how important it is. But I really would like to hear from everyone else, because I often appreciate a movie more when I know why other people liked it.

Got a lot of writing done yesterday — I’m wondering if it would work better to move most of my writing to the weekends. I do better with big chunks of time away from the house specifically dedicated to writing, and that works best on weekends, especially since I like my coffee while writing but don’t like the subsequent stress if I go from writing to work. But I’ve also demonstrated through wordsprints that half an hour of focus can also foment quite a lot of words for my count. We shall see.

What are you up to this weekend?

Island of Terror (Film Preservation Blogathon)

The idea of the the Film Preservation Blogathon is to raise money for preserving films! Here are the details from originator Ferdy on Films:

Our film is Cupid in Quarantine (1918), a one-reel Strand Comedy that tells the story of a young couple conspiring to stay together by staging a smallpox outbreak. The amount we’re shooting for is $10,000 to go to the National Film Preservation Foundation to cover laboratory costs for the film’s preservation as well as a new score for the film’s web premiere. The streaming film will be available free of charge to everyone online at the NFPF website.

In keeping with the general idea of Cupid in Quarantine, the idea is to blog about any scifi movie and draw attention to the donation link. The blogathon is hosted on three different blogs that will be listing the participants on each day. Go here for the schedule and more information about everything.

Or, since I know you’re busy, just skip all that and click this button to donate:

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Island of Terror (1966)

Peter_CushingIsland of Terror is a British scifi-horror movie starring Peter Cushing, whom you probably know better as Grand Moff Tarkin! He was a regular in Hammer horror films, among other things. (This particular movie is not Hammer, it’s Planet Film Productions, but I thought you might like to know). I watched the movie on Svengoolie recently, entirely on the strength of “1966 scifi horror” and “Peter Cushing.” I was not disappointed… I’m into sixties scifi. This is no revelation. I liked Island of Terror because it reminded me of many sixties Doctor Who episodes. British, calm, scientifically-minded even if the science makes zero sense. (Peter Cushing also played the Doctor in some delightfully terrible non-canon Doctor Who movies, just FYI…)

Anyway, here’s a spoilery summary: On an island off Ireland, a body is found with all its bones gone. The islanders call in some doctors and scientists from the mainland, including Peter Cushing. After some investigation, Peter Cushing discovers that the scientists on the island, in trying to cure cancer, accidentally created bone-dissolving monsters! And the monsters are multiplying! They try to kill the monsters with guns, explosives, etc., eventually realizing not violence but SCIENCE will save the day — ingesting a certain radioactive material kills the monsters.

Island_of_TerrorOkay, it’s not that great of a movie. The science is beyond ridiculous, and the plot otherwise is utterly straightforward. It’s noticeably sexist, and the one female character is included mainly as eye candy, not as a meaningful role. I did love having a trio of scientists as the leads, behaving in generally reasonable and science-y ways, but the characters themselves weren’t very memorable. It’s enjoyable, but so are a gigglety-jilion other movies.

I’m still glad I watched it, though, and I’m glad it’s still extant, because in the grand scheme of things video is a remarkably recent innovation. Island of Terror let me look into the past, to see how people of fifty years ago looked and talked and acted. How they assumed men and women should be, what they were afraid of and how they thought of science. It’s staged and stylized video, certainly, but that’s still worth something and illustrates how people thought during that period. For times before the 20th century, we just don’t get that opportunity at all.

Island of Terror is fun to watch, and that’s good enough, but I also just don’t want to see anything get thrown away. Without an eye toward preservation, whole moments in time can be lost forever. We shouldn’t let that happen, when film preservation is comparatively so easy.

I can’t wait to see Cupid in Quarantine!

Review: Ms. Marvel #15

Ms Marvel 15 coverThis’ll be a short review, because there’s just so much I don’t want to spoil! Ms. Marvel #15 is a triumphant ending to the Kamala-crush arc. It’s everything I hoped it would be — Kamala realizes Kamran is a jerk, indeed a villain, but more importantly she realizes that it’s not her fault. Kamran tries to put it on her, that she agreed to get in the car with him so whatever happens is her fault, and if she’d just shut up and listen she’d agree with the bad guys… But no. She’s crushed for a minute there, she really really liked Kamran and with good reason at the time, but she’s not going to put up with that. What Kamran does is Kamran’s fault, it’s not okay for him to cross her boundaries, and Kamala knows a villain when one speechifies in her face. Most importantly, she knows her value. I shouldn’t have doubted G. Willow Wilson for a moment.

There’s lots of action, lots of Kamala creatively using her powers, sweet stuff with Bruno. It’s a good issue. It’s got a “the end,” and it ties up the little Kamran arc, but there’s still a lot going on with the Inhumans that will presumably make up the greater portion of the next arc. And finally, there are some hilarious nerd jokes I’ll let you discover for yourself… They’re obvious, you won’t miss them. ;)

Review: “Loki: Agent of Asgard #8″

Okay folks, we’re back with Loki: Agent of Asgard #8, the AXIS tie-in. I’ve read AXIS in the intervening period. It’s an interesting event, but not a must-read and it doesn’t stand on its own as well as Original SinWhat you need to know is that heroes and villains were telepathically switched for a while, so the villains were the heroes and vice versa. Most of them were returned to normal, but not all. That’s where this comic picks up, in the midst of the Axis event.

If you’re new to my Loki reviews, I do them in the form of live reactions, paying particular attention to how his genderfluidity/assumed pansexuality is portrayed.

Loki Agent of Asgard 8 cover

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The serial nature of comics really doesn’t lend itself to this “suddenly, something’s different!” thing, but the previously-on segment explains what happened. We open with Loki foiling a casino stick-up, and as usual, the meta elements are perfect — the narrative boxes are retro and excited, providing a lot of editorializing about Loki’s heroic qualities, like they used to do in comics up until what, the 90s?

Continue reading

Real Neat Blog Award

real-neat-blog-awardThanks to Melissa Barker Simpson for the Real Neat Blog award! You answer the nominator’s five questions, nominate blogs of your own, and ask them five questions. Pretty simple, except Melissa asked hard questions!

1. What is the #1 most played song on your iPod (or other listening device)?

I actually don’t have a listening device, my last one broke years ago. My netbook won’t run iTunes, and I didn’t have time to put much music on my Kindle Fire before it stopped downloading anything. Soooo, I get most of my music from the radio and YouTube. But I mostly just listen to this Starset album I reviewed over and over again because it’s awesome.

What is one of your favourite quotes?

If you were immortal for one day, what would you do?

Skydiving!

What’s the most recent movie/book you’ve seen/read? Tell us about it.

Movie: I just finished The Cabin in the Woods while doing this post. It’s a Joss Whedon horror movie deconstruction. A fascinating meta-narrative, to be sure. But how much does it deconstruct, and how much is it just a typical horror movie with a slightly different monster?

Book: Avengers & X-Men: Axis which I talked about yesterday.

What have you always wanted to study (but never had the time)?

Pretty much everything ever. :) I’d love to have more time for visual art in a more systematic way. I’d like to be able to speak every language. Now that I’m out of school and it’s too late to pay attention, I wish I knew more about science-technology-engineering-and-math.

Nominations:

As always, if you don’t do awards or don’t have time, no worries. Five no-strings shoutouts to awesome blogs I didn’t link to last week. :)

healed1337, Natacha Guyot, Nerd in the Brain, North of Andover, Victim to Charm

(ETA: I’m just re-using the same questions for y’all!)

We’ll have a Loki post tomorrow, folks!