Tagged: women’s march

Martha Thomases: What Comes Around.

This is my last column before Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It doesn’t require presents or cards or anything but food and gratitude.

I am, of course, grateful to be alive, to have my son (the genius) and my brilliant new daughter-in-law, a doctor! But you, Constant Reader, don’t come here to read about my life. You come here to read about my opinions.

This year, I am especially grateful that when women speak, they are now believed.

As my ComicMix colleagues so eloquently described, the days of dismissing charges of sexual harassment as something women make up because we are overly sensitive are, for the moment at least, over. No, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of these stories, nor do I think firing Eddie Berganza makes everything better.

(It does not.)

That said, we are definitely in a better place than we were before this round of charges of sexual abuse began, way, way back with Harvey Weinstein. Women are speaking up and making change, rather than waiting for men to rescue them. My favorite superheroines do this prominently.

A new generation of superhero supports these strong women.

As I mentioned last week, women in comics have always talked among ourselves, sharing warnings and tips about which men to avoid. We looked out for each other. More recently, some of us have risked our livelihoods to tell our stories. And now, in an ironic twist worthy of an E. Nelson Bridwell story, the Superman office seems to be run by women editors.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m gloating about Eddie losing his job. There are hardly an instance when that’s an unequivocally good thing. A man his age, and with his now-damaged reputation is going to find it difficult to find another gig.

However, the women who were denied work because they wouldn’t have sex with him, the women who left comics because he was so unpleasant to them, the women who never even got in the door because DC would rather protect their boy than tempt him, also had their livelihoods threatened. Actions have consequences, and Eddie and DC management were the ones who was able to choose how they wanted to act.

It’s my theory that the reason women are coming forward in large numbers now can be traced back to the Women’s March last January. There have been large demonstrations held simultaneously around the world before, but this time, for whatever reason, we spoke to each other. We listened to each other. Women, people of color, immigrants, queer people and other outsiders realized that we didn’t need insiders. Together, the outsiders could do what needed to get done.

The stereotype suggests that feminism is something that is just for white women. The experiences of women in comics demonstrates over and over again that this is untrue. Yes, white feminists get a disproportionate amount of media attention but then, white people of all kinds get a disproportionate amount of media attention.

True feminists insist on celebrating all kinds of women, and there are so many of us that it is unprofitable to ignore us. In fact, we are a desirable and affluent market for would-be feminist toys.

And it’s not exclusively feminists who are speaking up against Business As Usual in the entertainment industry. There’s a new documentary about stereotyping South Asians, and it’s getting a lot of good word-of-mouth. Things are shifting (too) slowly in behind-the-camera job in television.

There is still a lot of work to be done in the years ahead. There will, inevitably, be setbacks as well as progress. Still, this Thanksgiving, I’m grateful to the women and men who got us this far.

Mindy Newell: Utopia, Dystopia, Death…and Riverdale

Sir John Hurt died a few days ago. One of Great Britain’s finest actors, his rise started with his turn as Robert Rich, a courtier and lawyer in Henry VIII’s court, in Fred Zimmerman’s A Man for All Seasons. The movie, based upon Robert Bolt’s play about the fall of, British Lord Chancellor Thomas More, could be considered a science fiction story as it deals with a perfectly harmonious island society that was nowhere to be found in More’s 16th century – or in the 21st, for that matter.

Sir John, in his long and brilliant career, was no stranger to our brand of cultural pop geekdom. Besides his outstanding turn as the War Doctor on the 50th anniversary special Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor – he recreated the War Doctor on four sets of audio plays for Big Finish; three are already out, and the fourth is debuting next month (and thanks to editor Mike Gold for the info) his filmography includes Alien; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Parts 1 and 25; Snowpiercer; Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; V for Vendetta; and 1984.

I am struck with irony. Sir John rose to prominence in a movie about the man who coined the term “Utopia,” and later starred as the protagonist – Winston Smith – in the film adaptation of 1984, the classic, definitive novel of a dystopian society. Dystopian being, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, “[a]n imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one; the opposite of utopia” – just in case you needed to look it up. Which I doubt.

But here’s why I am “struck with irony,” and I quote from Friday’s (January 27) New York Times in “Why ‘1984’ is a 2017 Must-Read,” by the Times critic Michicko Kakutani:

1984 shot to No. 1 on Amazon’s best-seller list this week after Kellyanne Conway, an advisor to President Trump, described demonstrative falsehoods told by the White House press secretary Sean Spicer – regarding the size of inaugural crowds – as ‘alternative facts’. It was a phrase chillingly reminiscent, for many readers, of the Ministry of Truth’s efforts in ‘1984’ at ‘reality control’. To Big Brother and the Party, Orwell wrote, ‘the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresies of heresy was common sense’. Regardless of the facts, ‘Big Brother is omnipotent’ and ‘the Party is infallible’.”

Sir John died the same day the article appeared.

There was another article in the Times, on Saturday, Jan 28, this one by Alexandra Alter, “Fears for the Future Prompt a Boon for Dystopian Classics,” in which the journalist wrote that sales have “also risen for [Orwell’s] Animal Farm, as well as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here. She also notes that last weekend, at the Women’s March in D.C. (and, I add, around the country and the world, including Antarctica), signs were everywhere referencing Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The book, which was written 32 years ago, has never been out of print – Ms. Alter notes that it in 2016 sales were up 30%, that it is in its 52nd printing, and that “Ms. Atwood’s publisher has reprinted 100,000 copies in the last three months to meet a spike in demand.”

In other news, Mary Tyler Moore died two days before John Hurt, on Wednesday, January 25. You young ‘uns may not remember, unless you catch reruns, but Ms. Moore starred on The Dick Van Dyke Show Laura Petrie, wife of Van Dyke’s Rob. She broke the mold of the then current (1960s) suburban housewives on television sitcoms; her Laura was well-read (she often had a book in her hand) talented (she was a dancer), fashion-forward (when Laura started wearing Capris, every housewife in America started wearing the cropped pants), daring (she dyed her hair blonde), and sexy (there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Rob and Laura closed the door to their bedroom for a reason.) And she and Rob had fights, too.

Then, in 1970, she broke the mold again, starring as single woman Mary Richards “making it on her own” working in the newsroom of a small television network in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Originally Mary Richards was going to be divorced, but there are two reasons that didn’t happen: divorced women were still an anathema to network execs in 1970, and there was actual fear that the audience would think that Laura Petrie had divorced Rob, and which would totally kill the show before it even got started. So the suits decided that Mary Richards had broken off her engagement. Along with a stellar cast that included Ed Asner as her boss Lou Grant, Valerie Harper as her best friend Rhoda Morgenstern, Ted Knight as the dimwit anchorman Ted Baxter, Betty White as devious, superficial Sue Ann Nivens, Cloris Leachman as neighbor Phyllis Lindstrom, Georgia Engle as Georgette Franklin, Ted Baxter’s ditzy yet smart girlfriend, and Gavin MacLeod as news writer Murray Slaughter, The Mary Tyler Moore Show won 29 Emmys and three Golden Globes, along with too many honors to mention.

And though the network chickened out of allowing Mary to be divorced, along the way there were plenty of separations, divorces, living together, and, yes, marriages. But Mary Richards ended the show as she started – single and living alone.

Journalist and television anchor Jane Pauley, writing in the New York Times on Thursday, January 26, noted that the “The Mary Tyler Moore Show started several years before two words, ‘and women,’ were inserted into an F.C.C. affirmative action clause pertaining to television station hiring. That might have helped women like me get a job, but Mary Richards may already have opened as many doors; she had made a woman in the newsroom seem normal.”

And speaking of death – one that occurs off-screen but will drive the plot of the show’s first season – I watched the premiere of Riverdale on Thursday night.

So far, not crazy over it.

Here are my texts to editor Mike about it:

“I thought it sucked.”

“That was the only funny part, if you’re an Archie fan. Lots of very weird scenarios running through this dirty mind.” (Regarding the scene between Archie and Miss Grundy doing the dance of the two-backed snake in the car.)

“Trying too hard.”

“Betty and Veronica instant friends? Ronnie would definitely not feel any guilt right away.” (Regarding getting it on with Archie.)

“Just seemed like it was plotted from one of those computer programs on how to write a screenplay.”

“Dialogue seemed false.”

“Best one was Ronnie’s mother.”

“Well, maybe next week will be better. Some of Buffy’s first season sucked, too.”

“I love Archie, too.”

“Trying too hard to be Twin Peaks.”

“Too hard.”

“Gonna eat dinner.”

Wait.

That one was about my growling stomach, not Riverdale.

 

Mindy Newell: Shivers

“Addendum: By the time of next week’s column, we will have had one full weekend of President Donald J. Trump. Will we all still be here? Will there even be a column? Will America be…Amerika?” • Mindy Newell, ComicMix, January 16, 2017

And so…here we are. We made it through the weekend. One hell of a weekend.

First came the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States, the 45th person to hold that august office which leads this country and the world. There have only been 44 others to have previously owned that title and those responsibilities. Only? Yes. We are a young country in the history of the world. 241 years old this coming July 4th. Our nearest relative, England, is over 1500 years old. We are comparative newborns. And like all newborns, America depends on the stability, care, and love of its parents. America’s father is the Declaration of Independence. Its mother, the Constitution of the United States.)

It has been the tradition of this child to swear in the President with these words:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Donald J. Trump’s inaugural speech was dreary, desolate, and depressing in its description of this country, a “uniquely dark vision of the U.S.,” as the New York Times called it. He was a bully during the long campaign, and the bullying continued into his address; he is, in every way, and as Jon Stewart confirmed him, a “Baby Man,” an emotionally immature schoolyard tyrant whose uncertainty and fear and narcissism live beneath a thin skin of machismo and bravado, to be unleashed whenever or wherever a threat to his manhood and/or to his kingdom is perceived.

“America First!” he said. “This American carnage stops!” And shivers went through the souls of people around the world. It was all too reminiscent of another leader who spoke of lebensraum (“living space”) for his country in the 1930’s.

And then, the next day, Saturday, January 21, Americans answered him. The whole world answered. 500,00 and more women, with their men – my daughter and son-in-law Alixandra and Jeff among them – and their children gathered in Washington, D.C, sprawling from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House and neighborhoods between to march and rally and protest this person who dares to claim that he speaks for the lost, the forgotten, the abused, and the ill.

Trump’s first act as President was to issue an executive order paving the way to the end of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. They gathered to the tune of 400,000 and more in New York City at the base of the Man’s High Castle, shutting down 5th Avenue and midtown Manhattan into the night. They gathered in every major city of every State of this Union – Boston, Miami, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Denver, Portland, Seattle and more (the photos above are from the Chicago rally; 150,000 strong). They gathered across the pond in London, in Paris, in Barcelona, in Rome and Berlin and Prague. They gathered in South Korea and Japan and Australia.

And Donald J. Trump looked out the White House windows and saw that there were many, many more out there than were at his inauguration and sent his press secretary – for bullies cannot look in the eyes of those who say “No!” – to blatantly lie and to warn the media (and the country and the world) that “they would be held accountable.”

America’s father and mother cried on Friday, and they cried on Saturday night.

I didn’t cry. But I shivered.

Yeah, we made it through the weekend.

But what is to come?