Saturday, April 24, 2010

Things I Love: Seth Aaron Henderson

I am lucky lady. My job revolves around being creative. I make movies. However, regardless of how lucky I feel to be a filmmaker, sometimes I need to do something else. Thus, I sew. I am not a good seamstress by any means; the tool that I use most is probably my seam ripper. Therefore I am easily fascinated by those who have more skill than I. Thus, I love Project Runway. In season seven this love was focused on one designer in particular - Seth Aaron Henderson.

The funny thing is that it had little to do with his work. Truthfully, I would never wear most of clothes. They just aren't me. Grunge rock star I am not.

The reason why I love Seath Aaron Henderson is that he is a straight, married man with teenage kids who still wants to be a fashion designer.

In Tough Guise Jackson Katz talks about how masculinity (and femininity to a point) are all about fitting into these really rigid boxes that do nothing but to keep us confined and from fully actualizing as human beings.

Truth be told I don't know many men who can sew even though sewing is an important life skill. I don't mean that you have to be able to churn out couture, but everyone puts premature holes in clothes from time to time and it is a great skill to be able to fix those. Thus, I applaud Seth Aaron Henderson for not only rocking the runway with his punk/military/goth look, but being a straight man who is living outside the gender conforming box.

However, there is a flip side to this sew-tastic story. We live in a culture that is male dominated, male identified, and male centered. Does having a straight man win at a reality contest in a traditionally female-centered discipline really help to break down our rigid gender constructions? Or is is just another example of how white (straight) men are the best at everything... including sewing? It is an interesting dichotomy. Is this really progress? Or is it just another male takeover? I, personally, can't decide. So I put this quagmire out to the masses. I am going to go back to ripping out seams.

Pictures from:
Also mentioned:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Men: If You Change Your Name, Your Wife Will Cheat

When I got married I told my husband I loved him, but I wasn't really into changing my name. Why? There are lots of reasons - Ruth Gregory is the name that I have always been called; Ruth Gregory is my grandmother's (married) name and she is who I am named after; Ruth Gregory is what I am professionally known as; Ruth Gregory is who I am. And while changing my last name doesn't mean that I cease to exist and have to start over personally and professionally, it felt like that, and that was enough for me to stick with my maiden name despite all the flack I have gotten and continue to get for it.

Last weekend I finally gave in and went to see Hot Tub Time Machine. I gave in because multiple people had told me that the film had a soul beneath the silliness and that it was worth the price of admission. And so I went. And it was fun. But there was one thing that irked me deeply about the film and it wasn't even central to the story. Thus, I feel the need to blog about it. This will have spoilers.

In Hot Tub Time Machine one of the friends Nick Webber, played by Craig Robinson of "The Office", is a happily married, but totally emasculated, man. He has, essentially, given up everything to be with the woman that he loves; his music career and his friends (to an extent). He has also at the beginning of the film, duh, dun, duh! hyphenated his last name. And boy, do his "friends" give him crap for that.

On top of it all, he's found out that the love of his life, his wife, Courtney, has cheated on him. So all his sacrifice seems to be for nothing.

Through the magic of hot tub time travel Nick is able to change his present by altering the past. In this new present, he is a man in charge of his life. He has his friends back, he is a successful music producer, he is still married to the woman he loves, Courtney, and his name is no longer hyphenated. He is just Nick Webber.

Now, I don't judge women or men who hyphenate or change their names for whatever reason, but Hot Tub Time Machine sure as heck does. See in the new and improved future Nick's wife has not cheated on him. She is still madly in love with him and his re-asserted masculinity. Also, the guy she cheated on him with in the alternate reality is now his secretary. Take that!

Thus, the writers and director of Hot Tub Time Machine are judging the Courtney's of the world (and I feel, me, by extension) by putting out the message to the men of the world that if you love a strong woman who wants you to change your name, that this will lead to totally emasculation that she will eventually tire of, and, thus, she will eventually sleep with a "Tyrese-looking fella" who, I can only assume, dominated her in the way that men are supposed to dominate women.

So men, be aware. If you change your name, your wife will cheat.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Seriously? A "Red Dawn" Remake?

In the years I call "Grad School Part 1" I wrote a paper about how the teen films of the 1980s were full of anti-communist propaganda. My point was based off Susan Jefford's book Hard Bodies: Hollywood Masculinity in the Reagan Era. In her piece Jeffords talks about how masculinity in Hollywood films of the 1980s was unusually macho - think Rambo, Rocky, Arnold Schwarzenegger's work, the Die Hard franchise, Top Gun, etc. - and that these films were a direct response to the political climate of the time. In the 1980s there was a cultural backlash going on against what was seen as the "soft" 1970s; where president Jimmy Carter was seen praying with the families of hostage victims in Iran instead of kicking some ass. Ronald Reagan himself was seen as somewhat of a cowboy figure, riding in on his horse to save the day. Sounds familiar...

In the midst of all this macho manliness came the ultimate Boy Scout wet dream of a film Red Dawn (1984). In it every communist nation (beside China) invades the U.S. and it is up to a bunch of high schoolers who have magically escaped to the mountains in the nick of time to save us. They fight using the skills they have inherited from fishing and camping with their fathers against the evil commie invaders. The Wolverines, as they call themselves, pissed off at the invasion of their country launch guerrilla warfare on their invaders; including creating improvised explosive devices (I.E.D.s) and going on suicide bombing missions when it looks like there is no hope. Sound familiar....

While there are some interesting real-world parallels going on here, the end result was one heck of a cheesy teen flick.

So why we feel to re-make Red Dawn is beyond me. And why Hollywood has decided that China is now the only invading country is way, way beyond me. In the first Red Dawn China is the only country that doesn't participate in the massive US takeover. It is because in the real 1980s we had good trade relations with China. Interestingly, we still have good trade relations with China. So what would motivate them to invade us now? Even in a fictional sense? Well, as my colleague Kris stated, "Maybe they want all their money back." It is possible. We do owe them more than 770 billion dollars. So, in some ways, I hope that the new Red Dawn addresses this issue. Otherwise, it will just be another 1980s remake that should have never been rehashed.

Although I am not a fan of Rob Schneider, I would much rather see the film based on this fake film preview from!