What lady Ghostbusters have in common with 17th-century nuns

I saw the new Ghostbusters with my 11-year-old daughter. It was the first movie she’d ever seen in which a team of female heroes are never subjected to the male gaze—in which they are always the agent, never the possessed. It was the first movie like that I’d ever seen, too.

There is spirit possession in the new Ghostbusters: you’ve seen one scene in the trailers, where one of the Ghostbusters is briefly possessed an evil ghost but quickly saved by one of her colleagues. Female friendship, female cooperation, is enough here to drive out evil. When women’s bodies are the battleground, women just as quickly become the warriors. Nor are women uniquely susceptible to possession: the hunky male receptionist is possessed, too, and must be saved.

The first Ghostbusters movie suggested to boys that if they just hung around long enough, women would see that their other options for possession were far worse than just giving in. The newGhostbusters movie tells girls that there’s another option. They can possess themselves.

What Lady Ghostbusters have in common with 17th-Century nuns

Autumn Culture Round Up

I haven’t done one of these link round-ups in ages, but I’ve been inspired to get back to it by the quantity of good stuff I’ve read recently.

Let’s start with something for the lesbian and bisexual women.  From Autostraddle, a gallery: 150 years of lesbians and other lady loving ladies.  

Also, from The Guardian, here’s an interview with Emma Donoghue

Bonjour Cass has a great post up about her favorite LGBTQ authors with a lot of good suggestions for reading.  She’s also starting an LGBTQ Book Blogger Directory.   

Continue reading

This week’s culture round-up

Here are 5 famous authors who were famous for something other than their writing

Apparently Great Expectations is the peoples’ favourite Dickens novel.

From Elisa Rolle, a post about lesbian pulp writer Ann Banon. I’ve never read any of her novels ::hangs head in shame::

Most of you have probably already seen this, “Straightening” Gay Characters in Young Adult Fiction

Here’s one for the critical theory geeks from Philosopherzone, The Mind of Jaques Lacan

And one for the writers, a lecture about dialogue from lesbian writer Dorothy Allison

I love these science fiction cover art posts from Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations, A Selection of Vincent Di Fate’s early 70s  covers, and The Best of Alex Schomburg’s 60s novel covers.

A post about Danny Boyle’s great science fiction film Sunshine, Sunshine casts a fantastic light on science fiction. I remember that this film really got under my skin.

From Bad Reputation, a review of Troll Hunter, which is a film I have to see.

From Feminist Music Geek, Long live the pop star flesh, a great post about Debbie Harry and the David Cronenburg film, Videodrome;  also from Feminist Music Geek, a post about Madonna’s much maligned Erotica phase, Lovers Pop.

From Overthinkingit, The female character flowchart. Please can I be the ‘Psycho Feminist Lesbian Amazon’?

From Den of Geek, some helpful advice for your big day, the golden rules of movie weddings and marriages

This week’s culture round-up

I’m still on my SF reading binge and in the last week I have finished Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man, which I liked very much, am still working my way through Iain M. Banks’s complex The Algebraist and have just started Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow. Andy and I have started rewatching Season 4 of Babylon 5.  I haven’t watched any of the new series of Dr Who because I’m scared that it might upset me.  Anyway, here are some links to things I enjoyed on the internet:

Continue reading

Transphobia in the film A Mighty Wind

I’ve been in the mood for silly films recently, so the other night we sat down to watch Christopher Guest’s A Mighty Wind, a mockumentary about 1960s folk bands reuniting for a tribute concert.  It wasn’t as good as Spinal Tap, but it was quite fun and a pretty gentle comedy. I didn’t like all the jokes, but that’s the case with every comedy film and I don’t need humour to be totally in line with my politics at all times.  However, right at the end of the film, something happens that’s much more problematic when, in a nasty cheap-shot, Guest suddenly inflicts a transphobic joke on the audience.

One of the bands featured in the film is called The Folksmen and their bassist, played by Harry Shearer, has a very deep baritone singing voice.  At the end of the film we revisit the bands after the concert and find that Shearer’s character is now in the process of transitioning.  The joke, of course, is based on the idea that Shearer looks funny dressed in women’s clothes and that the character is still playing with the band and still has a very deep voice which we’re obviously supposed to agree is hilarious.  The message here that transitioning is inherently funny is bad enough, but the voice joke seems extra mean when, for trans people, being misgendered on the basis of voice can be extremely distressing.

As a lesbian who experienced a lot of bullying on the basis of my gender presentation at school (are you a boy or a girl?) and who now sometimes gets mistaken for male (which, frankly, scares me), I experienced this scene as a slap in the face, so I hate to think how upsetting it could be for a trans person.

Julia Serano talks about the film in her book Whipping Girl, which I haven’t read yet, but found this quote in which she identifies Shearer as the stereotype of the “pathetic” transsexual who isn’t deluding anyone: “The intense contradiction between the “pathetic” character’s gender identity and her physical appearance is often played for laughs—as in the transition of musician Mark Shubb (played as a bearded baritone by Harry Shearer) at the conclusion of 2003’s A Mighty Wind.”

It’s the kind of joke that can be understood as Microaggression, something that a lot of people would insist is “not a big deal” and should be laughed off, but when taken in the wider context of the way power and privilege play out, it is a big deal.