WE DID IT. WE MADE IT THROUGH APRIL. This was a fixation for me because I knew going into it that I would be spending the entire month indoors. I wish I had another goalpost to look towards, but as of right now I don’t know what to expect from this month or any of the coming ones. I guess I might as well prepare for the worst and not bother hoping for the best.
The good news is that I’ve got lots of good stuff in today’s newsletter! Let’s just dive right in! I hope you find something you like. I appreciate you all so dang MUCH.
Let’s talk REPRESENTATION OF DESIRABLE FEMALES IN MOVIES
Did I hook you with that subtitle? Probably not, but I promise that “Someday My Prince Will Leave Me for Someone More Low-Key” by Alexis Soloski is worth your time. (Miraculously, it doesn’t mention Melinsa Taub’s seminal McSweeney’s essay, “I Regret to Inform You That My Wedding to Captain Von Trapp Has Been Cancelled.”)
I love analysis like this that pulls apart a message that’s insidious but overlooked by virtue of how common it is. Soloski’s line “Onscreen, I learned, men love amnesiacs” reminded me of another such analysis, Pop Culture Detective Agency’s excellent video “Born Sexy Yesterday,” which you should absolutely watch.
That video is about the sexualized naïveté of adult women characters, primarily in sci-fi, but an interesting essay on an inverse phenomenon is Jia Tolentino’s “The Infantilizing Way We Talk About Women’s Ambition.” Tolentino uses the example of the “Fearless Girl” statue on Wall Street (a child instead of an adult because its creators considered it more “relatable” that way) to illustrate the way society is comfortable with a child’s defiance but not a woman’s ambition:
The statue was conceived by an advertising agency for an investment firm whose twenty-eight-person leadership team contains five women; according to the sculptor, Kristen Visbal, the statue “reminds us today’s working woman is here to stay.” It’s dismaying, and revealing, that this message is most easily conveyed through a figure of a girl—her skirt and ponytail blown back in the breeze, cheerfully unaware of the strained, exhausted, overdetermined future that awaits her.
What’s up with the world?
Let us dip just a toe in the boiling lava that is current events right now, because there’s been some really good writing recently that I’d like to highlight. Plus I get to use the above stock image.
The New Republic published two 🔥essays on Friday. Alex Pareene’s “Democrats Aren’t Stuck With Joe Biden” was particularly gratifying for me to read, since my state didn’t even get to vote in the fucking primary. (Pareene added on Twitter that because he is aware of the improbability of this proposal, “it is also an invitation to think about why it won’t happen.”) David Roth’s “The Cancer in the Camera Lens” is spectacularly well-written. Roth is one of the few political writers who feels no need to couch descriptions of the president in polite, normalizing euphemisms. It’s unfortunate how refreshing it is is that he actually says what is happening, accurately (Trump holds press conferences while “swaying oddly and doing accordion things with his hands while putting strange childlike questions to his team of experts” and “never knows anything useful, cannot tell the truth about the few things he knows, and is pulled by his own preposterous vanity and insecurities back toward the only thing he really cares about, which is himself.”)
The other piece I’d like to mention is an interview with a business owner in Georgia at The Cut called “I’m Reopening My Hair Salon, and I’m Terrified.” The details that Heidi Oley shares are so eye-opening and highlight the impossibility of staying safe while resuming business as usual. I never would have thought about so many of her considerations.
A hero we don’t need and possibly don’t deserve
This is just a plug for a delightful and strange Twitter account called “Jim’ll Paint It.” It’s run by a man who takes requests on weird scenarios to draw in Microsoft Paint, like “Mighty Mormon Power Rangers” and “Teenage Mutant Tina Turners.” Thank you, Jim.
A HERO I NEED, PERSONALLY
I am obsessed with Drew Gooden. I think he is the perfect man: hilarious, willing to spend hours analyzing low-budget Christmas movies in excruciating detail, and intensely respectful of his wife. His videos make me laugh out loud, and that’s the type of joy I need in my life right now. I recommend his review of the movie Little Italy, his two-part series about a bizarre app, and his video about Kidz Bop, and really everything he’s ever done.
Drew, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for the content you put into the world, and please let me know if you have any siblings who are single.
Physical tangible stuff
It’s been a minute since I’ve recommended a product, which is because I never spend money. But now I got my stimulus check and I’m worried about the possibility of small shops I love closing! Two fun updates. So I’ve been pulling the trigger on some unnecessary purchases I’ve been considering for a while.
Super Yaki makes my favorite pop culture reference tees: they’re well-designed and capture the enthusiasm of fandom perfectly, in that their slogans (“Crimson Peak was good,” “Nominate Toni Collette, you cowards”) often feel like things you blurt emotionally when banging your fist on the table. I got a hoodie and followed them on Instagram to keep up with their new designs.
I also purchased a few things from Sportsball Supply Company. I know! I know that “I don’t understand sports, what is this sportsball game?” is a dated joke at this point. “Let people enjoy things,” etc. I know. However, I do truly hate sports and love the intense goth aesthetic of these confused and apathetic products. (And even if you do like sports, they have a few cool designs that aren’t anti-sports at all!)
Okay, that’s all. Boy, this one was chock-full of things! I’ll leave you with just one more: one of my all-time favorite gifs.
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