Commentary on the “Sugar Baby” culture, or “Sharing some fantastic snark and rage about some really sad garbage.” (Reblog)

Exposé on Miami’s ‘Sugar Baby’ Culture Is Most Depressing Thing Ever.

Erin Ryan over on Jezebel wrote a really good little piece about a recent exposé on the “sugar daddy/baby” culture in Miami. I don’t want to steal the thunder from her wonderful snark, so please read it. But the take-way is:

What really sucks about sugar baby relationships is that most of the arrangements don’t seem like they’re entered into freely; they’re a desperate response to a shitty set of circumstances — a lack of job opportunities, lack of job abilities, and last, but not least, the insanely high cost of college education.


That’s something all of us feminists can be sickened over.



The Problem with Being Plus, or “Chubby girls like feeling cute, too!” (Reblog)

We Want Cute Plus Size Clothes, and We Fucking Want Them Yesterday.

This blog post from Laura Beck over on Jezebel covers an area of near constant frustration for me. I’m not a tiny girl by any stretch, but I still want to wear clothes that me feel pretty and cute. That’s a really tall order from the fashion industry these days.

I’m with Laura on this…I don’t understand why companies aren’t diving into this market. The “average” female is now “plus-sized” (HOW DOES THAT EVEN MAKE SENSE?!), but few mainstream retailers carry a wide variety of attractive clothes for bigger girls. I think the first company to really focus on attractice, hip, and affordable clothes for human-sized (and shaped) women will make an absolute fortune.

We deserve this, ladies! We deserve clothes that fit us right, and still make us feel cute! Thin women are not somehow special, nor do they have any unique or exclusive claim to being beautiful. We are ALL beautiful, and it’s time we made the clothiers of the world take notice.

Patton Oswalt’s Moment of Clarity on Rape Jokes or “How one comedian made my day by publically pulling his head out of his ass and admitting his own mistakes.”


Let me start out by explaining that I’m a pretty ardent first amendment advocate. I believe it IS absolutely your right to publicly spout whatever vile bullshit you so choose (so long as it isn’t slanderous, etc). But I also believe just as strongly that it’s ABSOLUTELY my right (and responsibility, and perhaps even privilege at times) to call you out for your horseshit, dissect it for lies, half-truths, and failures in reason, and then hold you up for as much ridicule and public shaming as I can muster. Freedom of speech always has two edges. Rape jokes are very much the same for me. I will never argue that it should be illegal to make a rape joke, but you better believe I’ll be watching you like a hawk for a reason to verbally eviscerate you if the joke falls into sad, tired misogynist tropes of victim-blame and rapist-apologizing. Unfortunately, the stand-up community seems to heartily misunderstand a distaste of victim-blaming “humor” invoking rape topics as a desire to censor…and that’s just simply not the case. We’re just looking for a little congnizance, a glimmer of recognition of the problem at hand.

Cue today’s reblog from Patton Oswalt. I happen to think that Patton is a very funny and intelligent guy, and I believe we see eye-to-eye on lots of things. So when I stubbled across a lengthy blog post from him with “rape jokes” in the title, I was more than a little concerned that I’d be reading yet another length defense of rape humor, and more indictments of feminists as a bunch of folks out to push censorship onto humor. Happily, I was rather taken aback at what I read, and completely impressed by Patton’s very public missive about the realization he had made, and the enormous shift in his views on the matter. Even more impressive was level of responsibility he takes for his actions, and his admission of the mistakes he had made. While it’s a lengthy posting (Mr Oswalt makes my writing look concise by comparison), it’s absolutely worth a read. But I’d like to share the one bit that stood out to me, and absolutely made my day:

Let’s go backwards through those bullshit conclusions, shall we?  First off: no one is trying to make rape, as a subject, off-limits.  No one is talking about censorship.  In this past week of re-reading the blogs, going through the comment threads, and re-scrolling the Twitter arguments, I haven’t once found a single statement, feminist or otherwise, saying that rape shouldn’t be joked under any circumstance, regardless of context.  Not one example of this.

In fact, every viewpoint I’ve read on this, especially from feminists, is simply asking to kick upward, to think twice about who is the target of the punchline, and make sure it isn’t the victim.

Why, after all of my years of striving to write original material (and, at times, becoming annoyingly self-righteous about it) and struggling find new viewpoints or untried approaches to any subject, did I suddenly balk and protest when an articulate, intelligent and, at times, angry contingent of people were asking my to apply the same principles to the subject of rape?  Any edgy or taboo subject can become just as hackneyed as an acceptable or non-controversial one if the exact same approach is made every time.  But I wasn’t willing to hear that.

Thank you, Mr Oswalt. Your introspection and willingness to admit your mistakes in such a public manner have earned you a huge measure of my respect. I hope the rest of the stand-up community takes a cue from you.

TheTNF Reviews “Man of Steel” or “So much promise squandered for a lot of throwing people through buildings.” (SPOILERS!)

I’ll disclose that Superman is not exactly in the upper-echelons of my fandom preferences. I find the mythos to be rather interesting, but the tales of his heroic life on Earth often feel dated and unimaginative. After the trailers I was optimistic that perhaps an updated, engaging version of the story of Kal-El was possible, even probable. It’s been a very long time since anyone has managed to pretty much anything good with the Superman franchise. The latest attempt brings together writer David Goyer (whose credits include the latest Batman trilogy and the Blade films) and director Zach Snyder (300, Watchmen, Suckerpunch), with a little help from Chris Nolan. With these guys at the helm, I was definitely expecting a grittier, darker take on Superman mythos. What we got was a bleak, grim film full of gratuitous CGI fight sequences that drag on for what feels like hours that ultimately fails its canon, the characters and the audience. Even more frustrating is the suburb casting and the fleeting moments where the nuance from Goyer and Nolan show through, and hammer home just how good this film could have been.

From a nerd point of view, the movie often feels like one long “oh, SO close moment.” At a few points throughout the film, it’s almost painfully close to exactly what I wanted, but then screws it all up. The opening of the film is chief among these. We’re treated to a lengthy introduction showing how and why Jor-El and Lana are so adamant about sending their only son to Earth, as Krypton faces destruction. I was very impressed with the overall look of Krypton itself; the production designs did a fantastic job of portraying a world both futuristic and entirely alien. The story managed to get some good traction as you watch Jor-El and his wife Lana scramble to save their son from the destruction of their planet. But then it all starts to fall apart, the questions start, and so many good things are squandered for an action moment. Why is Jor-El, supposedly a man of peace and a respected scientist, able to match guns with the elite of the Krypton military? What exactly is the point of Zod’s coup, when the planet is doomed in just weeks? And why send Zod to the Phantom Zone and spare him from the destruction of the planet?

We then jump forward and see the now-named Clark Kent doing the anonymous good-guy thing, wandering from city to city saving people and slipping out before anyone can say “who was that guy?” These random acts of heroism are interspersed with flashbacks to Clark’s formative years on Earth with his adoptive parents, leading to his eventual discovery of his origin via an ancient bit of Krypton technology, along with the chance to save the life of Lois Lane. I think this part of the film is where all the possibility really shines through. It does a surprisingly good job of establishing an emotional core to the film, and a reason for Kal to feel an attachment to the people of Earth. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane are picture-perfect as Jonathan and Martha Kent, and their acting is superb. Unfortunately, the writers (I believe) altered the critical life lessons that Jon shares with young Clark, going from the canonical “Always Do Good Things” to “It’s Ok to Let People Die If You Can Keep Your Secret.” While I can see how this later sets up the gamble of Clark trusting the people of Earth, I think it detracts for one of the Superman series’ most core thoughts..the idea that doing the right thing is paramount. As well, Jon Kent’s death is changed from a heart-attack (something Clark is powerless to stop) to a tragic death by tornado that Kal chooses to allow (at his father’s insistence) in order to avoid revealing his abilities. But overall, this portion of the movie works better than almost any other, and it left me hopeful for the prospects of the rest of the film.

Sadly, soon my hope were dashed. Not long after the intrepid Lois Lane manages to discover the identity of her mystery savior, Zod arrives at Earth with his demand for custody of Kal-El. Again, the set-up here is very good, and Michael Shannon is believable and disturbing as the single-minded military despot. However, what ensues following this is an hour of trite action footage filmed at camera angles that move at a migraine inducing space. Kal fights the Zod and his soldiers all over the damn place, always with the same city-wrecking results. And the fight sequences pointless drag out far longer than is necessary, to the point where they actually become so boring that I lost any interest in who might win…I just wanted to be able to look at the screen without getting motion sickness. (And I saw the film in 2D…I can’t even imagine how 3D audiences felt!) Almost all storytelling is lost, and Clark’s lines (and Henry Cavill’s acting) go right down the tubes, with Zod and Lois right behind him. What makes the whole thing especially depressing is the beautiful cruelty of Zod’s plan (to terraform the Earth into a Krypon-like replica and save his race at the expense every human life), and how perfect it fits the mindset of his character, both in the film and in the canon. It also sets up what could have been a perfect tipping point moment for Kal-El…how to manage to save both his own people and the people of Earth. Sadly, the writing takes a nosedive here and Superman essentially commits the complete genocide of his own people (for reasons that aren’t entirely clear). For me, this was where the tone of the film reached its nadir. There was nothing in the way of even a little dark humor, let alone any real comic relief, up to this point and the sheer grimness of the entire affair settled on me. More excessively long action sequences follow this, and we reach another point where there was SO much squandered potential. Zod has been defeated, but he is able to engage his heat vision long enough to endanger a nearby family, forcing Clark to kill him to save them. Had Clark not committed genocide not a few hours prior, this moment could have been far more impactful, even more so if the canon lessons of Papa Kent been left in place. So instead of a Superman torn apart by having to take a life so brutally, it becomes just one more death in an already bloody, depressing (and bloody depressing) movie. The denouement again shines with a sense of possibility for the film as we see Clark taking his new job at the Daily Planet and slyly flirting with Lois, along with an incredibly moving flashback sequence of young Clark Kent with a red towel for a cape as his parents look on and hope aloud for his future. This short moment is by the best in the film, and it leaves me wondering how Man of Steel could have turned out if the same care used in this small sequences had been used throughout the film.

Despite the numerous failings of the film, there are a few other positive pieces worth mentioning. The film does manage to use a few wonderfully subtle moments to remind us of the details from the earlier incarnations of the franchise. A very short but purposeful shot of the water tower over Clark’s hometown reads “Smallville” without any other mention of the town’s name. Weather maps and images from the military radar are clearly labeled “Metropolis” without much other mention of the name of city that plays host to much of the story. The name “Superman” is said only twice in the entirety of movie, giving subtle homage to the eponym of the franchise without being cheesy and cliche. Unfortunately, they do little to save this disappointing entry in the Superman legacy.

From a feminist point of view, there’s a lot to like about Man of Steel, particularly early on. Lana, wife of Jor-El and mother of Kal, bravely faces the possibility to death to save her son, stands defiantly to see justice served to the man to killed her husband, and fearlessly awaits the end of her planet. Sadly, she’s marred slightly in the strange need to have her fight with Jor-El to send Kal to Earth…after all, no one is going to survive the destruction of Krypton. I love Amy Adams’ portrayal of the fearless Lois Lane (even if I object to her hair color) as she berates her way past military commanders in search the story she’s seeking. Almost as good is the moments she’s her boss at the Daily Planet to print a story she thinks is important, even if it risks her career, and then finding a way to get it printed after she loses the argument. Unfortunately, after Zod’s arrival on Earth, she seems to be reduced to doing very little other than staring at the sky while her hair blows artfully in the wind. Martha Kent provides a strong anchor point for Kal, especially after the death of Jonathon. She handles the destruction of her house in a manner befitting her unflappable resilience in the face of all she’s encountered over the years. Diane Lane’s performance is one of the biggest highpoints of the entire film. Finally, one of Zod’s most trusted and able soldiers is a woman (who isn’t named in the film, but is identified as Faora in the credits), and she’s pretty much a bad-ass. All in all, against the backdrop of superhero films, I can’t complain too much about the depiction of women in this movie. A little more plot-critical action for Lois would have been nice, but it’s overall much better than I expected.

I could absolutely write another 1000 words on the horrific abuses of all things physics in this film, but I think I’ll just sum it up briefly: physics do not appear to apply to anyone or anything in this film in any consistent or reasonable way. (If Superman is able to fly mostly because he’s jumping REALLY hard, how can he change direction or HOVER?!!?!) Beyond that,  I’ll leave those gripes to the physics bloggers.

I don’t think that Man of Steel has killed the Superman franchise…after all, the film pulled in almost $150 million. I just really hope that if they decide to build a sequel, they put someone else at the helm. Zach Snyder should stick to films about naked Greeks killing lots of people in very stylish ways.

The Audacity of a Female Game Critic, or “The tumblr post that nearly made me throw my laptop across the room.” (Reblog)

Feminist Frequency • Twitter vs Female Protagonists in Video Games.

Do I even have commentary for this that isn’t a string of curse words? Basically, Anita Sarkeesian over at Feminist Frequency (now on the blogroll!) had the audacity to comment on Twitter the fact that ZERO of the games revealed at E3 had a female protagonist. What she received in response is some of the most vile sexist bullshit that I’ve read in some time, and I couldn’t even make through a third of the tweets she posted. They range from a simple “shut up” or to the tired trope of “wharrrr, feminist agenda!” to the sterotypical “girls don’t play games!” to the oh-so-charming “no one wants games about cooking and cleaning HARHARHAR girls are dumb”.

Sadly, women are still having to fight like hell for even the slightest crumb of respect in the majority of the geek/nerd community, and it seems like the gamer portion of that community is among the worst. The tired cliches of “there are no girl gamers” and “geek girls are all fakers” continue on and on. There’s ZERO logical or factual basis for these claims, and they do nothing but make the community look backwards and idiotic. Tirades like the ones Anita received do little more than cement the image of gamers as entrenched sexist pigs with the social maturity stunted and halted at the adolescent stage hallmarked by a deep insecurity with genital development and resultant fear of the opposite sex. Yes, I’m implying they’re acting like teenage boys with small penises who are terrified of girls.

Grow up, boys. And major points to Anita for her audacity. She’s my hero for the day.

A Tragic Miscarriage of Justice, or “In Texas, the life of a sex worker is now worth less than $150.”

Jury Acquits Escort Shooter

When this article first came across my newsfeed, I actually had to do some research to assure myself that I wasn’t being duped by the Onion (and I think a lot of me really hoped that I was). Sadly, this is the real deal. In basic summation: a man in Texas was acquitted of murdering an escort that he ADMITS TO SHOOTING while he was allegedly trying to recover the money ($150) he had given her because she refused to have sex with him. Go ahead and re-read that sentence and let it sink it for a minute. The defense built their case around a Texas law that allows the use of deadly force to recovery property during a night-time robbery, and a jury found him not guilty.

I’m not even sure how to begin to form a response to his. My first instinct is just to jump up and down and shout “WHAT THE EFF IS WRONG WITH TEXAS?” until I go hoarse. But while that might temporarily make me feel better, it certainly doesn’t help anyone, and it definitely doesn’t make for interesting blogging. So I suppose I’ll jump on the most obvious problem here-  this case essentially functions as a state endorsement of vigilantism, and it turns non-violent theft into a capital offense. The general doctrine in the US is that lethal force may only be used when a human life is in immediate danger. Recently this notion has started to have some erosion as more states pass “stand your ground” types of laws that allow deadly force against an intruder in one’s home. While I have strong reservations about that legislation as well, this simply goes too far. This law allows individuals to exact their own brand of violent “justice” against someone who has stolen their property. While I’m sure much of Texas still harbors delusions that they’re in the “Old West”, we have a criminal justice system for a reason. Furthermore, capital punishment has long been reserved for only the most heinous of crimes, and the Supreme Court has relatively recently upheld the notion that the death penalty is only appropriate in cases of murder. But with this law in place, a relatively minor property crime now becomes a de-facto capital offense, as the victim is allowed to end your life to recover their property, without any kind of due-process whatsoever. It’s the ultimate express death penalty. And from my research, this is a law that pushed for by gun lobbyists (after all, if “deadly force” is going to be used, it’s unlikely to be with almost anything else). So what we have here is a horrifying dismantling of one of the most crucial right we have as Americans- due process- in order to slake the bloodlust of the gun activists.

Sadly, the destruction of due-process isn’t even the MOST disturbing implication of this case. To me, even more frightening is the complete devaluation of human life. From all angles, this woman was a victim. Whether this is a case of a plan to steal this man’s money, or a misunderstood assumption about what was being paid for is immaterial…given that this woman was under the control of pimp, she fairly certainly had no choice in what was going on. If she had refused, the relatively standard response from her pimp would have been a beating or worse. Furthermore, solicitation of a prostitute is a crime (and one widely codified as more severe than prostitution itself.) So if this man were expecting sex for his money, he was actively committing a crime himself, and at least to some extent, victimizing this woman. But despite the fact that this woman seems to bear the least responsibility in the situation, she ended up dead. Why? Because this man wanted his $150 back and he felt justified in shooting her for it, because that’s how little her life was worth to him. And in acquitting him of murder charges, the jury simply affirmed his belief…that this poor soul’s life was worth less than the cost of an Xbox. As sickening as that is, I’m STILL not to what I find the most disturbing about what’s going here.

One of the most upsetting things about this case for me is the realization that this woman died because of a man’s belief in his entitlement to sex. The problem with men’s entitlement belief when it comes to sex is a widespread one, and it presents itself in situations as relatively subtle as the constant complaints of “friendzoning” by men to as brutal as sexual violence. And in this case, it cost this woman her very life. This man believed that giving this woman $150 dollars entitled him to have sex with her, and when he did not receive the sexual encounter he believed he was entitled to, he shot her in the neck. Now, all of the testimony in place indicated that the matter of sex was never even discussed…this was simply an assumption that he had made based on the idea that he was paying her for her time. To him the exchange of money for time and companionship intrinsically implied the right to have sex with her. In my mind, there’s almost nothing to really here to establish that his man had been robbed of anything at all. But the results of this case essentially mean that simply because a man BELIEVES he is entitled to sex for a payment (even if there’s no direct justification for it), then the entitlement stands and he’s not legally culpable for taking her life to recover his money if she refuses to screw him.

There’s a darker implication here that I think is easily missed though. If he is entitled to sex with her by virtue of giving her $150 in cash, would he have been legally justified in raping her? Is her simple act of refusing consent an act of theft (which by Texas law opens her to lethal force)? It appears to me that logically, if her refusal to give consent constitutes theft, then by law he “owns” the right to have sex with her, and raping her would be legally permissible as she’s not legally entitled to NOT consent. So in one quick turn, you have essentially eliminated a sex worker’s rights over her body. She is now nothing more than an object, and her sexual function can legally (well, aside from the illegality of prostitution itself) be bought and sold without her consent. Imagine this…a young woman is sold into prostitution from Eastern Europe or West Africa to a pimp in Texas. Under the threat of violence (and possibly death) from her pimp, she is sent to service a john who pays her the agreed sum of money for some fairly violent and unsavory sex that is essentially rape. This woman now has two choices: endure the rape from this man, or risk being shot to death when she flees and he decides to recovery his money in the manner made legal by this law (and reinforced by this case). And where does this stop? What happens if a man takes a woman on a date and gives her a gift and expects sex? If she doesn’t give him the sexual encounter that he feels he is entitled to, can he shoot her to recover that gift? The distance between those two stories is frighteningly short. It’s all just one more disturbing example of how men are finding ways to increase and exert their dominance over women and their bodies.

There are even more ways to tear this apart and find implication, but I’m honestly emotionally drained and I believe my point is made. What we have here, at its core, is an absolute travesty of justice based on an extremely poorly considered piece of legislation, and the continued problems of an entitled male hierarchy bent on the control women’s bodies and sexualities. A victimized young woman receives no justice for her life being violently and senselessly cut short by a bullet, and we all lose a little bit more of our legal rights to consent (or not consent) to the sexual whims of men.

Another Incursion on Women’s Rights to Control Their Bodies or “Roe v Wade be damned, we’ll do what we please with your uterus!”

House Republicans pass ‘astonishing’ bill to ban all abortions after 20 weeks | World news |

So, once again, the GOP is pressing to curb reproductive freedoms and exert control over women’s bodies. While this disgusting agenda has primarily been pushed at the state level for the last few years, Republicans in the House have decided it’s high time to make the push national again. The proposed legislation would ban all abortion procedures after the 20th week of pregnancy, and makes no exceptions for the health of the mother unless she is in mortal danger, nor does it make any exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

To start with, the entirety of the panel that passed this bill was made up of men. That’s right, the committee that’s taking on the initial debate on a health issue that affects only women didn’t have a single woman’s voice on it. Secondly, the “reasoning” given by the folks proposing this legislation is the completely unproven idea that the fetus would feel pain during the procedure. Even more appalling is the use of the Kermit Gosnell case to justify this. Gosnell was performing procedure that were so unethical that he lost his medical license and is now going to jail…to try and compare this to the current accepted medical practices surrounding legitimate safe abortions is a disturbing false equivalency, a deep failure of logic, and a grotesque exploitation of the victims of Gosnell. Finally, the entire bill is unconstitutional as the text of Roe v Wade protects abortion at least through viability, which falls around week 24, and this was recently affirmed when the Court of Appeals struck down a similar bill in Arizona.

The Republican Party continues its heinous war on women and shamelessly waves the flag of patriarchal entrenchment and overt misogyny. The GOP leadership should be ashamed of itself for allowing this bill to make it even past markup. So jump on those emails and get the word out to your local congressperson and let them know what you think of this latest attack of women. With enough pressure, we can hopefully ensure this bill dies in committee.

A Rare Moment of Agreement with Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Sustren, or “The men at Fox News fail at science and get their assses handed to them.”

Megyn Kelly vs. Erick Erickson: Fox News host shreds pundit for views on dominant men and women..

Here’s a situation that’s been making waves in the news for a couple of days now. And since the world “feminist” is right in the title of this blog, it’s probably about time I talk about it.

So the background is that the Pew Center released a report showing a marked increase in the number of female “breadwinners” in families with children; women are now the breadwinners in 40% of those households with kids (1). The oh-so-progressive programming folks over at Fox News decided that it would discuss the story in a panel format…a panel made up entirely of MEN. They then decided to pretty much deride the whole situation as bad for the country and for our children, and then went on to spout a lot of patriarchal, sexist bullshit that sounds a lot more at home around in a 1950’s office than on a 21st century news program. (1) Among my personal favorite highlights of this drivel is Lou Dobbs attempting to use “science” to defend his sexist views:

“I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science. But liberals who defend this and say it is not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology — when you look at the natural world — the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role.”

Now, as a scientist, this is like nails of a chalk board. I have to grit my teeth to not scream every time I hear or read the sentence. I had trouble even deciding where to START pulling apart this pile of verbal scat. Firstly, stating that males are typically dominant is just factually incorrect. In our two closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, females larges control the social structure on the individual groups or tribes. The entirety of lion society is controlled by females, particularly the social structure. This is even more pronounced in elephants, where males are generally forced to live well-apart from the complex social framework of elephant society. Female golden eagles are notably larger than their male counterparts, and have been more sought out for falconry for hundreds of years. Female spiders are often much larger males, and often eaten them during mating. The female anglerfish is many times larger than the male and physically absorbs his body at the time of copulation. But beyond being wrong about nature, Dobbs is making an incorrect connection. Humans are humans (I know, shocker, right?). We are not chimps, bonobos, or orangutans. Nor are we lions, elephants, or hamsters. And we are certainly not eagles, seahorses, spiders, or anglerfish. My point is…to compare anything about human behavior involving sex and gender to any other animals is absurd. It’s a false equivalency, plain and simple. Most trouble to me, however, is Dobbs’ re-entrenching of the idea that anything involving gender roles is some how natural or biological. Gender roles are a construct of the society in which we live in, that’s all. Over the many millenia of human existence, gender roles among human beings have been as varied as the cultures that have existed. Dobbs (and his compatriots who were quick to agree with his schlock) are clinging to the dying concept of men in control of society because they can’t handle the idea of their power and privilege bring eroded our evolving modern society. And it makes them look like sad, dated fools.

So much, in fact, that not one but TWO of their female colleagues on the network were appalled enough to publically deride the commentary. Megyn Kelly took the airwaves and dismantled Erick Erickson (another of the panelists), asking him “What makes you dominant and me submissive and who died and made you scientist in chief?. She continued her tirade against him on several other programs, ulimately leaving Erickson looking extraordinarily foolish, and trying like hell to walk back the statements. Greta Van Sustren was only slightly less outraged, and took to her twitter to account to say: “Have these men lost their minds?” While I OFTEN disagree with what both of these ladies spout off during their segments on Fox News, I have to applaud them for willingness to take their own people to task for this completely disgusting display of sexism. Thank you ladies, for taking these guys to task.

Have these men lost their minds? (and these are my colleagues??!! oh brother… maybe I need to have a little chat with them if it isn’t too late….) – See more at:
Have these men lost their minds? (and these are my colleagues??!! oh brother… maybe I need to have a little chat with them if it isn’t too late….) – See more at:
Have these men lost their minds? (and these are my colleagues??!! oh brother… maybe I need to have a little chat with them if it isn’t too late….) – See more at:
Have these men lost their minds? (and these are my colleagues??!! oh brother… maybe I need to have a little chat with them if it isn’t too late….) – See more at:

TheTNF Review of “Star Trek: Into Darkness”, or “I love explosions and textual references, but this is a sausage fest!” (Spoilers!)

So remember how I said in the “About” page that I was going to be talking about nerd stuff in this blog? Well, I’m sure all of you were just DYING to know what TheTNF thought about the new Star Trek movie! Ok, probably not, but too damn bad. Let’s do this!

We’ll get things going with the nerd point of view. Firstly, I’ll admit that I absolutely walked out of the theater going saying “OMG, that was awesome!” But, I do that for a LOT of movies before my brain has had a chance to completely digest everything I took in. Taking the movie as simply a work of science-fiction/action, I still really enjoyed the film. It’s visually stunning, well-acted, and the sound editing is excellent. The action sequences happen regularly enough to give the film energy, but not so often as to make it feel rushed. There’s good character development, some touching moments, and enough comic relief to keep it from getting depressing. So, from a strictly film-geek point of view, I call the film a total win.

However, if I take it a step further and let the Trek-geek in me have a go at it, things change. I’ll start with the good. I remain very impressed with the casting decisions for all the major characters. I think they all fit the roles perfectly, and Benedict Cumberbach manages to perform admirably as Kahn Noonien Singh despite the glaring whitewashing. Less well done is the intertextuality the film attempts to establish with Wrath of Khan. There are a few points where this is pulled off brilliantly; the fantastically inverted self-sacrifice scene with Kirk and Spock being chief among them. Unfortunately, to me, this only ends up highlighting what “could have been”. Many of the other references feel forced or just plain unnecessary (see: Leonard Nimoy’s cameo). This leads well into my second point, which is the film tried to cover too much. There’s a lot of canon here to deal with- all of WoK, plus the episode “Space Seed” from TOS. Attempting to pull in most of this material (adapted to the new timeline) leads to “cramped” feeling to the film at times, while important plot points are hurried over. Kirk’s coming back to life, much of Khan’s back story, the introduction of the Klingons, and building of the Vengeance are all areas that could have been played out in a far more detailed fashion if the writers had tried to do a little bit less with their limited screen time. It’s the detail that gives Star Trek it’s flavor, and it was so well executed in the first of the reboot films that it pains me to see it lost in the entertaining-but-flawed sequel. The result is a film that just doesn’t “feel” like a Star Trek film. So from a hardcore Trek fan point of view, the film is watchable, entertaining, but ultimately a little frustrating.

Finally, let’s give this thing a look from a feminist standpoint. In two words, it stinks. While the first reboot film wasn’t exactly brimming with female characters and included its fair share of blatant fan-service (hello, Naked Green Alien Girl), at least the one female lead maintained a strong imagine without a ton of giving in to pervasive stereotypes, and more than two women had speaking roles. We just aren’t so lucky in the second film. I’ll admit that Uhura has a few really bad-ass moments, particularly her stone-faced resolve as she deftly negotiates with the Klingons in their native language. Beyond those fleeting moments, she’s either relegated to the background, or far more insultingly used in an obnoxiously sexist joke about women’s behavior. I’m referring, of course, to her attempting to have a relationship discussion with Spock while on critical away mission. This entire exchange pained me to watch as they slowly eroded Uhura’s credibility as a professional, level-headed Starfleet officer. The writers gutted an fantastic, strong female lead character for the sake of a joke that fell flat and did nothing for the story line. But at least Nyota got a chance to BE a character, instead of a piece of alluring scenery. Because really, that’s all Dr Carol Marcus managed in this film. In the original canon, Dr Marcus is not overly developed as a character, but she’s named as the creator of the plot-critical Genesis Device (and mothers a child with Kirk). In Into Darkness, she’s an annoying stowaway who does little but provide an awkward moment of fan service in her underwear, and serve poorly as a bargaining chip. I actually cringe in my seat as they flashed her nearly naked body on screen. It was a contemptuous way to treat the only other female character is a sea of men, and the film suffered for it. While The Original Series wasn’t always at the forefront of feminist portrayals of female characters, the Star Trek franchise as a whole has been of relatively high quality in its depiction and inclusion of women. The writers of Star Trek: Into Darkness would have been wise to have kept that tradition. From a feminist point of view, the film is a dismal failure.

A last completely nerdy quibble about canon: the ending of the film appeared to contain a glaring Trek-science mistake. Star Trek canon has mentioned on a few occasions that one of the reasons that a star ship is built in, and must remain in, space is that once in atmosphere, the forces of gravity and friction would rip the ship to shreds. Essentially, they don’t have the structural stability to hold up in atmo. Now, I fully recognize that the Vengeance was very much CRASHING to earth as Khan aimed her for Starfleet HQ, but she stilled stayed largely intact through re-entry, descent, and the crash-landing. My interpretation of the canon gave me the impression that a starship in atmo would quickly break up, killing absolutely everyone on board. I fully accept the suspension of disbelief that comes from watching Star Trek, but it would be nice if they’d at least stay consistent with the rules that THEY created! But again…that’s just a geeky quibble because I’m a jerk about details, and feel free to correct me on this one!

As a final note, I have genuine hope that many of the issues in Star Trek: Into Darkness are a symptom of taking on more than could really be handled in a single film, rather than actual disregard for female characters. I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next film the franchise, and crossing my fingers from improvement.

PS: I plan on doing many more of these film reviews, taking them on from nerd, trans (when applicable), and feminist points of view. So help me name this segment! Comment below with your ideas!