Category Archives: Reviews

The Women of ‘Friday Night Lights’

I’m just going to say it outright: I’ve come to determine that Friday Night Lights is indeed the best show on television. At first hesitant to watch a show about high school football I finally gave in only to pleasantly discover that what parades as a show about the machismo sport of football is in fact a show about community, family and integrity in middle-America. Lacking in the wealth and gloss of shows like Gossip Girl and The O.C. the filming, acting and storylines are all gritty and real. While all of the characters are extremely well-written and multi-dimensional, I’m continually struck by how amazingly bitchin’ the women of Friday Night Lights are. Just like that other seemingly male-centric show Mad Men, what lies beneath is indeed a multi-layered feminist portrayal of strong women.

Having just aired the series finale after five seasons, the show has unfortunately come to a end. (See the finale promo here, non-spoilery and fantastic.) But I hope the show lives on, if only to show how women on television can be portrayed–smart and sassy with no need to be slutty. If you haven’t seen the finale, slight spoilers ahead.
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The Green Hornet vs. the Bechdel Test

Spoiler alert: it fails.

Green Hornet movie title at old theater
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Black Swan Review

So. I’ve got a bone to pick. And it’s with Black Swan. Nominated for Golden Globes, most likely will be up for Oscars, this film received praise from critics across the board. But…..ehhh… Slight spoilers be ahead.

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Tron: Legacy vs. the Bechdel Test

Hello, readers (if we still have any…) and Happy New Year!

One of my many resolutions is to write more often.  One way I’ve decided to do this is to apply the Bechdel Test to every movie I see in theaters this year and write it up for BTW.  The Bechdel Test, for those of you who’ve been living in a cave, has three rules.  In order to pass this test, a movie must (1) have two or more named female characters, (2)  that talk to each other, (3) about something other than a man or shoes.  My first contender this year?  Tron: Legacy.

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BTW Watches: Jennifer’s Body

Hell is a teenage girl.”
As opening lines go, Jennifer’s Body has a pretty kicking one. (Hey, pun!)

Jennifer's Body Movie Poster

Let me begin by saying that I had high expectations for Jennifer’s Body.  Since reading Diablo Cody’s interview in the Aug/Sept 2009 issue of BUST, I’ve been wanting to see this flick.  I missed it in theaters, and finally got around to seeing it recently.  Why was I excited?  Two reasons, mostly: first, because of what I’d read about it; that it was supposed to be a feminist take on the horror genre.  As a viewer who enjoys shows like CSI and Law & Order, I was anxious to see the bad guy played by a girl.  Frankly, I’m sick and tired of always seeing women cast as the corpses, or soon to be corpses, running and screaming from Faceless Rapist and Murderer of the Week.  I was beyond excited to witness Ms. Cody turn the tables on men and make the killer a hot young woman targeting men.  And second, I’m not gonna lie, I wanted to see how Megan Fox would do in a non-decorative role (::cough::Transformers::).  I have a soft spot in my heart for her because I think she’s gotten a disproportionate amount of hate, and for virtually no reason.  I recently read a piece over at HuffPo posing a similar question: Why do we hate Megan Fox?  The author argues that we hate her because she’s beautiful and she speaks her mind: a lethal combination in a culture that rewards and values silent womanhood.  Check it out.

So I watched it and I’m left a little flummoxed; but I’m going to give it a B-.  If you’re still with me, read on… Continue reading

BTW Reads: Belle de Jour


“That rare and wonderful thing: a fearless and witty revelation of one woman’s sexuality.” –Kate Hickman, author of Courtesans, from the back cover

I read Belle de Jour: the Diary of an Unlikely Call Girl during DC’s Snowverkill and was fully prepared to write a somewhat scathing review of said book.   Having spent the better part of my President’s Day roaming the internet reading more about sex work, the real Belle de Jour, and call girls galore, I’m unable to play the arrogant reviewer card [sorry!].

The book was an enjoyable and intriguing read– even if I hadn’t been snowed in, I have a feeling I would have read it just as quickly.  Belle writes in a familiar and accessible way so that you can understand and empathize with her decisions, in both her personal and professional lives.  The problems I had with the book seem to be common: first and foremost, I thought that she seemed a little too savvy, a little too hardened, a little too something.  She wrote with an almost too cool detachment; while Kate Hickman (above) lauds her work as groundbreaking, I found it to be more pedantic.  While she described and owned her sex work in her writing (although how much you can own your behavior while you remain anonymous is a valid question), she also seemed to make it clear that this was just a job, and she knew that she was fortunate to be educated and that she would eventually have options when she decided, on her own terms, that it was time to leave the business.

A few months back Belle de Jour outed herself to the Sunday Times.  I remember the splash of publicity surrounding the revelation of her identity, but, as I hadn’t yet read the book or watched the series, I didn’t pay close attention.  Today I went back and read India Knight’s article “I’m Belle de Jour“, and follow-up “Belle lays bare the myth that every hooker is a victim“, and am extremely glad I did (and I highly recommend that you take a moment to read one or both, especially if you’ve read the book or seen the show).  Having seen a few episodes of Showtime’s Secret Diary of a Call Girl by now, it’s nice to know what Belle de Jour’s real face looks like (she’s the one on the left) and to learn more about Belle/Brooke. It was increasingly frustrating how few details were provided about her life (education? major? school? field? anything?) in the book.

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Film Whips It Good

This is our third guest blog from Revolution, although now she’s better known as K-Y La Jelly. (Check out 1 and 2)

whip_it_cast

Whip It was not only a directorial debut for Drew Barrymore, it was a debut of women’s roller derby resurgence that began merely at the turn of this millennium.  Hollywood’s spotlighting of lesser known athletics has led to their subsequent national and international growth before.  Documentary Planet B-boy attributes the international exposure to breakdancing simply after 1983 Flashdance’s introductory clip of kids dancing in the streets.  About’s skateboard guide, Steve Cave, lists the 1989 release of Gleaming the Cube, a movie that first featured Tony Hawk among other future professionals, as a major event that boosted skateboarding popularity.  Has the passion of Barrymore’s pet project impacted roller derby in the same way?

Despite the novelty of roller derby in Hollywood, Whip It’s financial and artistic grade achieved a big fat mediocre.  Box Office Mojo ranks Whip It #6 behind Zombieland (#1) and Toy Story I & II (#2) according to gross profits made that opening weekend.  Kyle Buchanan gives a more historical perspective on the film’s monetary losses in “A Dispiriting List of Girl-Targeted Movies that Opened Better than Whip It” on movieline.com.  To summarize, the list includes several movies that star Hillary Duff and Lindsay Lohan, and dramatize the following topics:  boyfriends, princesses/drama queens, animals (horses and mermaids), and gymnastics (not to belittle the athleticism of this sport).  Film critics from New York TimesWashington Post and USA Today grant Whip It one thumb up for an eccentric cast and one thumb down for a predictable plot.

A quick read through roller derby team websites and blogs, however, show a very different story.  Ivanna S. Pankin, founder of Las Vegas’ Neanderdolls and owner of the online derby store Sin City Skates, states that even if the movie had sucked it is a free marketing tool that educates people about the sport’s existence.  For the past year she has prepped her business to respond to sales booms after the film’s release.  Sojourney Beaver, Las Vegas’ general league manager and new recruits coach, says that for every person who asks, “There’s derby in Las Vegas?” another person asks “What’s roller derby?”  After Whip It’s release, Beaver found 22 more women at the next beginner’s practice, about four times the normal 1-5 newbies who show up at the start of the season.  Although most of these new recruits denied the film had anything to do with their choice to start derby, a few admitted they had no clue a derby team existed in Las Vegas until they saw flyers posted at theaters.  Similarly, LV member Bootsi Call quotes 380 tickets sold at the following bout compared with the average 100-200 fans.
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