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Author Archives: Roberta Ohlinger-Johnson

81 cents: The worth of a woman’s dollar in media.

When I was in kindergarten in 1980, we were asked who we wanted to be when we grew up.  I looked around: of the twenty or so occupational posters on the wall, women represented exactly two: teacher or nurse.  My mom was a stay at home mom, and later a teacher.  So I thought hard and creatively answered: Avon Lady, which is the only women-owned and women-operated business I knew.  A year or two later, that answer didn’t go over well in private school.  Today I believe we earn approximately 81 cents for every dollar a male earns.

Is there a gap in spending power also ?  I ask this because there’s a lot of mixed messages in the Ad Lands these days.  Take for example the NFL and Cover Girl.  Apparently, women account for 45% of the viewership of the NFL, which prompted CoverGirl to sponsor the NFL.  Then came the infamous Ray Rice incident and the NFL’s slow as molasses they’re only 45% and they’ll keep watching because they’re dumb response. Cover girl is still sponsoring the Superbowl Get Your Gameface On Campaign?  In other words, it continues to funnel money to an organization that disregards brutality to a core audience, women.   Converting that into spending power, it means that as women our dollar is also worth 81 cents, or a man’s dollar is worth $1.22 for every one of ours.  I feel like Canada at the UN when dealing with the NFL.  Of course we’re the little guy at the table.

Does CoverGirl know who their bread is buttered by?  I’m not sure they do, because of their lack of response to women’s issues.   With CoverGirl, we have 100% purchasing power.  Fortunately, someone expressed the frustration and  irony by photo shopping  CoverGirl’s Ravens Look makeup into a domestic violence victim (here: Ravens CoverGirl Makeup Spoof “Get Your Game Face On.”)  This look freezes the dopey happiness of the model, by the way.  It doesn’t help that she’s posed into a defensive parry.

Here’s the hero of the day:  Alway’s  “Like a Girl” campaign.  The short version is that younger girls believe “like a girl” means trying hard and fierce, and only with adolescence does it mean to do something poorly and awkwardly. Flailing and failing.  This information is brought to you by P&E, the makers of “Always” Products, who sell to women.  If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here:  Like a Girl Campaign

In the mean time, in the Philippines there is this bit of awful:  the infamous “Snuggle with a Struggle” t-shirts marketed to young boys in the Philippines. 

So while women celebrate being strong, it’s an arms race.

 

Back to that kindergarten problem. A brief history in media, according to me:

When women became tough in the year two double ought, we left behind chick flicks for chick action flicks. In 2001, Laura Croft Tomb Raider showed us how a pair of DDs can save the world. Then Kill Bill in 2003, showed that motherhood – that exclusive female experience – could be fierce and vengeful, sociopathic even. Then Quentin Tarrantino moved on to the Grindhouse films: We had Jessica Alba in Machete, Sophia Vergara in Machete Kills, next Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo… And always in the plot somewhere, a man tried to take advantage of our hot-tomale chick, who threw down and put the hurt on him. For example: Kill Bill. Which I personally love and say nothing bad about. Except to remind you when Bringing the Popcorn that like sex in porn, It Isn’t Real. But we called it progress nonetheless. Kick ass, take names.

This progress was important to me because once upon a time, there were only two Hollywood roles reflecting a woman my age: single mother or district attorney. (As an attorney, I personally loathe the DA role.)  Sometimes they could be creatively combined into one whole person, as in Erin Brockovitch.  You could say Uma Thurman single handedly added serial killer to the list of women roles and occupations, but really that became the club no one wanted to join when Charlize Theron took the role of Aileen Wuornos.   Never mind, beautiful women could now be assassins.  And in fact, the role of Salt was re-written from Tom Cruise to Angelina Jolie.   So we evolved away from lawyer, when Angelina Jolie experimented as an undercover agent in Salt.  (!!)  The thing is, Jolie’s character as Salt was terrible.  She had no CIA Cry-Face.  Now Claire Danes as Carrie with her cry- face, that’s something new:  Vulnerable, effed-up, self-destructive, brilliant, a loose cannon: everything that makes her real.

Enter Outlander, the new STARZ series.

To enjoy this series you must first get past the fairy dust opening credits. Joanna Robinson of Vanity Faire called it “hardcore Ren-meets-Lilith Fair action right there.” And she’s right, it’s insipid music that doesn’t reflect the rawness of the series and is an insult to women, because the series is really about war.  And women in war.

For the uninitiated, just as World War II ends and Claire is about to return to normal life, she falls through time to another war. And sex, all marital for the sensitive, much of which takes place in plaid. But that soundtrack insults women, nailing them into the cats and knits and Celtic Woman cds. Already the critics are wondering if this could be a “cross-over phenomenon” to the world of men’s dollars. And I think: Do we have to be? Or isn’t my cable dollar, and all the women dollars who love these novels, placing them on the New York Times Best-Seller Lists, good enough just for once?

No.

In the mid-season finale Claire kills her would-be rapist and then goes into shock. There is nothing sexy about the scene, nothing nice, no one rescued by our hero (proof this isn’t a bodice ripper, as stupid as those comments are.)  Her reaction is a REAL response.  What the holy hell? A woman actually has a real response to an attempted rape and murder? Something more psychologically complex than a Batman “BAM”? Now, I don’t believe that men are as shallow as they’re portrayed in film and cinema either. They simply couldn’t be, or we wouldn’t have so many being treated for PTSD when they come back from war. But this was the first time I’ve ever seen emotional shock portrayed in response to an attempted rape, and vividly too. Because like it or not, rape is an act of war.

In the next evolution of chick lit, Reese Witherspoon is playing Cheryl Strayed in Wild. The best part of Wild, in my mind, is how Cheryl comes to terms and accepts her own past.  Instead of feeling bad for her ex-husband, she appreciates how those mistakes brought her to her present.   Instead of the scarlet-A of a “self-destructive” past, then deleted my typing, and that’s the point of writing here. “What if” you would do it all again to get where you are today? And I thought, what if women ceased to judge themselves and how they use their bodies, and were allowed to embrace themselves, mistakes and all? True frailty, trying and succeeding, and sometimes just making a mess of things?  A bit like Carrie, who slept with a terrorist, by the way.

I thought what a cool world this is.  I’ll bring my eighty one cent dollars to Wild and the next installment of Homeland.  And CoverGirl?  I didn’t need you anyway.

The Frankenstein Parenting Project (Mary Shelley, 1818 version)

Frontispiece_to_Frankenstein_1831

Conventionality…

Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion.

– Charlotte Bronte, in the preface to Jane Eyre.  The publication of a novel written by a woman was thought to be a wholesale attack on Christianity. 

The Literary Origins of Valentine’s Day

The Literary Origins of Valentine’s Day

Enjoy!

Interesting Literature

Did Geoffrey Chaucer invent Valentine’s Day? Yes and no.

St Valentine’s Day has been marked in liturgical calendars for centuries. As a Christian feast day, Valentine’s Day actually commemorates two Saint Valentines: Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. (The Catholic Encyclopedia even speaks of a third Saint Valentine, who was martyred in Africa, but little else is known about him.)

Chaucer1But Valentine’s Day only became associated with romantic love during the late fourteenth century, when Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400), author of The Canterbury Tales, made the association in his poem ‘The Parlement of Foules’, written some time in the 1380s, possibly in 1382. The poem features a parliament, or assembly, of birds, which have gathered together in order to choose their mates. As Chaucer’s narrator remarks, ‘For this was on seynt Volantynys day / Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.’ However, several of Chaucer’s contemporaries also wrote poems…

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Comedy & Censorship: Religion, the Big Ugly, and Critical Reception.

 

“A farce or comedy is best played; a tragedy is best read at home.”

-Abraham Lincoln

Today while following a trail of shares from someone who did far better in law school than me and  is smarter than me and who I don’t believe practices law anyway (Question: Why go to law school then?  For the fun of it? To blow the curve for the rest of us? ) I found the following controversy:

An American Comedy Troupe known as the “Reduced Shakespeare Company” was set to perform a play called “The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged)” as part of a three month tour of the United Kingdom.  Until the first show at Newtonabbey in Northern Ireland.  Without having seen the entire play, the Arts Counsel decided – having booked the performance originally – to cancel the performance before the politicians did for them.  The reason? For an American the answer should be hair-raising:

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)  apparently determined, without having seen the play, that the adults of Northern Ireland cannot decide for themselves what is profane, blasphemous, offensive, or mocking of religion.   Chillingly, the DUP stated that government should be run with religious principles, meaning I suppose, Christian and only Christian principles.  Remember, England has been the model for most of our laws regarding the establishment clause. As in, what not to do and who not to behead in a divorce or otherwise burn alive at the sovereign’s pleasure.  In response, the troupe posed the following legitimate questions: What exactly is wrong with mocking, poking fun or ribbing at something that we share as a fundamental document in our culture?  And the better universal question, why is that fundamentalists have no sense of humor?   (These aren’t my questions, they are the podcast questions worth pondering.  I defer to others here.)  I immediately ordered their Complete History of America here: http://www.reducedshakespeare.com/rsc-shop/.

The good news: The Arts Counsel put the performance back on, which played TWO sold-out performances.  Because, the unerring human principle is that if you ban it or condemn, people will suddenly wake up wanting to know why.

Which brings me to my own sad story: Last year the Dam Short Film Festival in Boulder City hosted the hilarious Found Footage Festival.  Their rules are as follows: they comb garage sales and thrift stores looking for inadvertently funny, bad VHS tapes (remember those?).  And showcase them.  The funniest were a 1960s police training video on live human birth (yep, uncensored) and a how-to guide to masturbation made by the Canadian government.  Which resulted in photos of ahem, the big ugly, splashed across the gilded screen of clean, green Boulder City.  And a crimson host.  I knew the moment I saw him it wouldn’t be back.  Just now, I checked online, and sadly the Found Footage Festival will not be back to the Dam Short Film Festival.  Which is greatly our loss because the greatest comedies should be watched and tragedies read, per Abraham Lincoln.   Notwithstanding But the good news is they sell DVDs online which can be purchased right here: http://store.foundfootagefest.com/

The other good news is that I have tickets for the Book of Mormon, the Musical, in June.  Pondering the above, I checked out the response of the Church of Latter Day Saints to the Musical per Wikipedia (yep, that’s a source), and was pleasantly surprised by the following statement:  “The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.”

And the response from the writers? “That’s a cool, American response to a ribbing—a big musical that’s done in their name. Before the church responded, a lot of people would ask us, ‘Are you afraid of what the church would say?’ And Trey and I were like, ‘They’re going to be cool.’ And they were like, ‘No, they’re not. There are going to be protests.’ And we were like, ‘Nope, they’re going to be cool.’ We weren’t that surprised by the church’s response. We had faith in them.”

I am as always surprised by the American capacity to surprise.  And I will happily laugh my ass off at the Book of Mormon, and will privately show the Found Footage Festival to as many people as I can comfortably invite to my home.  Because comedy is best watched, drama best read.   

Sources:

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com/establishment-clause.html

http://www.damshortfilm.org/

http://www.foundfootagefest.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Mormon_(musical)

http://www.reducedshakespeare.com/

http://www.reducedshakespeare.com/category/podcasts/ specifically podcast Episode 373.

 

 

Thoughts on In a Grove and Tabish v. State: Should the Dead be able to testify from the grave?

In the murder case of Ted Binion, Sandra Murphy and Rick Tabish were accused of first degree premeditated, in cold blood style murder of casino mogul Ted Binion.  Murphy was Binion’s girl friend, and the two were accused of suffocating Binion and removing silver bullion from Binion’s underground vault in Pahrump, Nevada.  Yes, Nevada is still the wild west, my friends. 

At trial, Tom Standish, one of Binion’s lawyers and an upstanding Vegas lawyer, testified at trial that he was present when Binion told Tabish that if Binion died, Tabish should retrieve the silver from the vault so that greedy Binion family members would not try to keep the silver from Binion’s daughter, Bonnie.

Binion’s estate lawyer, James Brown, testified at trial that Binion had called Brown’s office the day before his death and had asked Brown to change the terms of his will.   Brown testified that Binion had said to him, “Take Sandy [Murphy] out of the will if she doesn’t kill me tonight.   If I’m dead, you’ll know what happened.”
 
On appeal, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled the statements were inadmissible hearsay, “akin to testimony from Binion after his death.”
 
In In the Grover, the Murder victim also speaks from the grave. 
 
What do you think?  Are these statements reliable evidence?  Did the Nevada Supreme Court get it right in Murphy?

 

The full opinion can be accessed here: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/nv-supreme-court/1323598.html

In a Grove

In a Grove

will change your life forever
in 14 pages.
Download here: http://www.feedbooks.com/book/4205