Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dear Levi's: You Suck

So Levi's apparently thinks the only thing wrong with the world is that men don't have enough rights. Yep, in an attempt to sell pants they're trying to convince dudes that they should be in charge of everything, all the time, and that will make the world a better place and make everyone happier.
Hey Levi's?

InfamousQbert has a post up about it with a screenshot, which I copied. See the fail for yourself.
I just can't even deal with how fucked up that is. Anybody else care to weigh in? And feel free to repost this everywhere. And I mean, everywhere. It worked with Method- who's to say it can't work again?

Hat tip to InfamousQbert.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Art Is A Hammer

So I was thinking about this random quote: "Art is not a mirror. Art is a hammer." And I was thinking about art. And Ivan E. Coyote. At the same time. Cause I'm good like that. I discovered Ivan via Sugarbutch, and zie- this is a good person for nonspecific pronouns- is just brilliant. Amazing. I think every femme has her list of butch heartbreakers, and mine generally involves intellectuals. I mean, I can't discount k.d. lang or Dylan Rion, but my heart (and uh, any other regions) throbs for brainy butches: Rachel Maddow, Alison Bechdel and of course, studly genius Sinclair Sexsmith. So there's this video of this edible and nutritious butch, reading a short story with quite the Canadian accent (is there a word for that?). I have never heard that much Yukon in one person's voice before. And zie's reading about the methods and difficulties of packing, and I nearly swooned right there in front of my monitor-not to mention in front of my fiancee. I was entranced.

And this was before I was even really aware of hir words. And I had to start the video over, and actually listen to it (did you know blushing makes it hard to concentrate? I didn't). And hir writing is... warm. It's funny, and accessible, and sometimes a little wistful, and I savored it. I went to the library and read The Slow Fix, which was all the library had, and when I was done I wanted more.
Zie's writing about Canada, and often about solitude; I should be cold, shivery and lonely (I'm a rather empathic reader) when I'm done, but I'm not. I'm warm and as I read I'm smiling . It's like hearing stories about my family, and since many of hir stories describe being gay in a not-very-post-homophobic world, in a way it is.
Zie describes hirself as a "kitchen-table storyteller", and that's exactly what it is. And I love it.

I enjoy being taken by surprise by art. I was taking a class in Florence and one day, we went to an art gallery. "Cezanne in Firenze"; Impressionist art. Heretofore I'd always thought of Impressionism as 'pretty'. Monet, Van Gogh. Starry Night, Water Lilies, all that jazz. And then at some point while I was wandering around absorbing these paintings... I changed my mind.
The color, the strokes of the brush, the way you can tell how the artist was feeling about the subject or the day or the paints just from the damn painting! -it just blew my fucking mind. I stayed for two hours, I spent my lunch and dinner money on a book of the exhibition's art, I couldn't stop talking on the way home. I was wired, like I'd had an adrenaline orgasm and a pot of espresso. I was on fire, it was a revelation. I was thunderstruck by Impressionist art.
I know there're some people that don't feel the same fiery passion for their spouses that I can feel about art, or sex, or teaspooning against injustice, or sometimes even discussions of philosophy. (Yes, I'm serious.) And I am sorry for those people.

And I guess the point of all this is that Ivan E. Coyote's work didn't hit me like a hammer. And I was okay with that. As I read, it opened itself like a window, it wrapped around me like a blanket, it felt good under my hands like a leash or a steering wheel, like it wasn't going to take me anywhere I didn't want to go.
Something I know is that people revere classics, but they read stories. I feel as though I have found a friend in this author, and when the world is sad and scary I'd rather have a blanket than a hammer.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Life Is Pain, People

Here at Things That Piss Me Off dot com, we're having an influx of annoyance.

People who annoy me today include:

-People who respond to my criticism of pop culture with something like: "You shouldn't take it seriously, it's just supposed to be mindless entertainment, it's not for criticizing (what does that even mean?), you're reading too much into it, blah blah blah I have no native intelligence blah". I get so fucking tired of that. It's not that I'm taking it too seriously, it's that you're not taking it seriously enough. For fuck's sake.

-The guy in my landlord's office today. The receptionist jokingly said "Would I lie to you?" at one point in the conversation. His reply? "Sure you would! You're female!" and then kept going "Never had a woman not lie to me". In a room full of women- the employees and me and another tenant! I felt my eyes get big. I turned and left as soon as I could, but what I wanted to do was say "Hey, asshole- maybe there's a reason all those women keep lying to you." I hope that guy steps in an ankle-deep puddle and has to slosh around with wet socks all day.

-The librarian who acts like I'M the criminal when a library book is stolen from me. It was rather difficult to hold on to my temper when she asked me for the third time how I could be sure the book was stolen. How could I be sure? Because there was a big empty spot in the place where I left it, that's how!

-Libertarians. Just in general.

That's it right now. I had a good post planned about the effects of art on our psyches, and about my upcoming TV blogging, but fuck it. My brain hurts. People suck today. That's it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I Watch TV

So in stunning news, I watch TV! This TV-watching doesn't just include educational things like MSNBC, the History Channel (a favorite of Ferret, actually), or the Bran Network. I watch cartoons, oh yes I do. Among others, I watch Chowder, and Spongebob, and Phineas and Ferb. Now what do these shows have in common? Well, the first two were both worked on by the same guy, C. H. Greenblatt. (Yes, that's his real name. He also worked on The Grim Adventured of Billy and Mandy, which I also LOVE.)
Anyway, that AND! They are some of my favorties to watch. They are all lots of fun and not too think-require-y and generally not problematic in terms of the messages or ideas behind the storylines. They usually have good messages or (in the case of Chowder) are so cool to look at that I don't care that the message is something like "Don't fill up your boss's kitchen with a family of fart-clouds". Don't ask.

The not-silver lining here, the problem that I have with these 3 particular cartoons- but not JUST these 3- is the female characters. All 3 shows are centered loosely around a pair of male characters. When they have ladiez onscreen, it's to be a romantic interest or a punchline. The female characters are usually more 2-dimensional and less sympathetic than the guys. And that makes me sad, because I wish there was something I could watch on TV for pleasure that didn't make me wince at every girly giggle or shrieking harpy caricature.
But alas, guess not.

Let's get started, shall we? I'll be listing the main characters in each show, a couple supporting characters, and some traits, as well as whether or not we are meant to like each character. Me snarking about gendered behavior will be in italics.

SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS: Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? This show is about a sponge who's a fry cook being happy and well-dressed at the bottom of the ocean. Has been applauded for lack of sex and violence. Most of the characters don't exhibit stereotypical gendered behavior, which is refreshing. However, there're a few, and my main problem is that the female characters get way less screen time and are more often the butt of the joke than the male characters. Another case of male-as-default.

-Spongebob: Likable. Happy. Naive. The star of the show. Loves being a fry-cook, weirdly.
-Patrick: Likable, sort of. Very, very stupid. The literal star(fish).
-Mr Krabs: Crusty and really stingy, but sometimes sympathetic.
-Squidward: A squid, Spongebob's neighbor. Not likable. At all.
-Sandy Cheeks: Her name is a pun. Ha, ha. She's a literal outsider (a squirrel, underwater). She is shown as being smart, usually. Also a tough, athletic karate expert, which is refreshing. Unfortunately, she is in less episodes than, say, Squidward.
-Mrs. Puff: Spongebob's long-suffering driving instructor. A widow. Not a main character, but the only other regular lady in the series, besides
-Pearl: Mr Krabs's incongruous whale daughter. Spoiled girly teenager <-- Gasp! I've never seen a teenage girl depicted as bratty and spoiled before!
-Plankton: The bad guy on the show. Shouts a lot, and is really small. Has some issues, and I think this because of
-Karin: Plankton's wife, whom he made. Because she's a COMPUTER. Yeah. And every once in awhile he threatens to "unplug her" or "take her apart and build a new model" cause that's not creepy at all. <-- Wife as nagging and unsupportive.

CHOWDER: Fairly new to the scene. Features cool animation and visuals, as well as several different media like puppets or claymation. It's about an apprentice chef in a fantastic city where everyone has the name of a food. A lot of the humor is crude or absurdist. We are meant to understand that there are flaws in all these characters. Strangely enough, we don't often see anyone else cooking besides Mung and Chowder. Not sure why.

-Chowder: Happy. Gluttonous. Inept and scatterbrained. Seriously, would rather eat than cook, and in later episodes, endangers everybody with stupidity.
-Mung Daal: Head chef. Not a bad cook, I think? Patient with Chowder. Married, but still loves "the ladies", who don't generally love him back, as he is not quite as irresistible as he thinks. <--Oh look! Gendered behavior!
-Truffles: Mung's wife. Small and irascible. Everyone in the kitchen is afraid of her. Often yells, especially at her husband. She's the receptionist; we don't see her cook. <-- This would be nice, except it's a catering company. So, yup, lady-as-secretary. Also, lady-as-bitch.
-Schnitzel: Rock monster, sous chef. Really strong, serious, and often aggravated by Chowder. Responsible and long-suffering. Only says "radda".
-Panini: Ms. Endive's apprentice. Competent cook (we assume), feminine and very aggressive. Better cook than Chowder (not that that's hard), but we rarely see her cook. Freakily obsessed with being Chowder's girlfriend. Chowder isn't interested, so of course she stalks him compulsively and calls him "Num-nums". She gets pretty scary. <-- Do I even need to go into detail?
-Ms. Endive: Not likable. Image-conscious. Probably a better chef than Mung, her rival, but we don't get to see her cook often. She's huge, and her size is often a joke. Kind of deranged. Lonely, but treats everyone so badly we see why she's so unpopular. Simultaneously hates men and longs for a relationship. <--Really?? Come on. It's been done, people!
-Gazpacho: Runs the fruit stand. Mung and Chowder are customers, friends, and apparently neighbors. Neurotic and socially awkward. Lives with his mother, who is implied in one episode to be a split personality of him, a la 'Psycho'. Not sure if this is canon, but we never see her. He talks a lot about 'Mother' and describes some pretty creepy things. <--Another dude henpecked by a lady, even if she is... him. Maybe.

Mostly the gender jokes in this show are "Aren't women crazy/demanding/irrational/heartless/really crazy?" There's at least one or two per episode.

PHINEAS AND FERB- This is an awesome show about 2 stepbrothers who spend every day of their summer vacation inventing crazy things and having wild adventures. Lots of running gags and at least one catchy song per episode. Very little meanness and lots of creativity and friendship. They also have several female characters, it's just... you'll see.

-Phineas: Genius kid who has awesome ideas.
-Ferb: Genius kid who's quiet and knows how to build incredible things. The series revolves primarily around the crazy things these two build in their backyard every day of summer, despite the efforts of
-Candace: Their sister who's obsessed with 1)Getting them in trouble for their wacky inventions- meaning first getting their mother to believe her and 2)Her love-interest, Jeremy. <--Lady as spoilsport? Also, does crazy things for a man. Sigh.
-Stacy: Best friend to Candace. Kind of ditzy. Gives advice on shopping and boys. That's about all we see. <--Cause girls don't think about anything else! Unless of course they're
-Isabella: Smart, intrepid, goes on lots of adventures with Phineas and Ferb. Also adorably cute and infatuated with Phineas <--Aww, we were doing so well til that sentence! She's also the leader of
-The Fireside Girls: Mostly-unnamed (they're usually just shown as a group) and ethnically diverse troop of Girl-Scout types who are adventurous, smart and resourceful. Yay!
-Linda: Phineas and Candace's mom, who hides a past as a pop-star and goes around all day doing "mom" stuff. Doesn't seem to have a job. Never believes Candace and in fact, usually suggests she's crazy and mocks her behind her back. <--She's a mom, and that's about all we get.
-Laurence: Ferb's dad. British. Easygoing and a little loopy.
-Dr. Doofenshmirtz: Inept bad guy inventor out to take over the world, starting with "The Tri-State Area!" Played for laughs, definitely. Constantly thwarted by his battles with
-Perry the Platypus: Phineas and Ferb's pet platypus, who's actually a secret agent. Yeah, don't ask. It's funny though.

So essentially, this show is one of the better ones, it's just they have a lot of problematic issues with their treatment of girls. Candace is never believed and told she's crazy, Stacy's a ditz, and their Mom is apparently a SAHM who's utterly clueless. Other than that, though...

So you see? I feel like, even in cartoons we're not safe from gendered stereotypes. These shows are fun shows! Cool to look at, they make me laugh, and they usually aren't so stupid I want to cry (see the later episodes of Fairly OddParents for that). Are there any cartoons out there that're free from the bullshit?