Pop Culture Fix: Everyone Is Bananas For “Carol” at Cannes and Other Important Stories

Hello, peaches and pears and plums! Welcome to your weekly Pop Culture Fix! This isn’t Cannes, so feel free to wear what you want. Heels, flats, oxfords, feety pajamas. It’s totally up to you!


 

Gender Discrimination Redux

Last week, Riese talked about how shit is getting real for gender discrimination in Hollywood, and the battle rages on. Famous ladies are breaking the code of silence all over the place. This week, Selma Hayek spoke at a UN panel about her experiences with “sexist, ignorant” movie creators. Melissa McCarthy smacked down a Variety reporter for a profoundly sexist review, calling Hollywood’s attitude about women “an intense sickness.” And, at Cannes, Parker Posey said, “We’re at war. The culture is eating nature, it’s overpowering storytelling.”

+ The Feminist Majority Foundation honored Shonda Rhimes and Jenji Kohan with the Eleanor Roosevelt Global Women’s Rights Award this week, and their speeches will have you throwing up praise hands emojis.

Rhimes on her assistant telling her she wants to be a straight white man for one day to see what it’s like to “have all that”:

My assistant wants to walk through the world, just for a day, without some guy hitting on her when she runs to Starbucks to get me coffee. So as to not be called cute by the security guard. She wants to not be told that she should be a model. She wants to not take a look of surprise on someone’s face when she tells them where she went to college. She wants her boobs to no longer be a topic of conversation. She wants to not make 70 cents on the dollar. She wants to not have old men legislate her vagina’s rights. She doesn’t want to even know that a glass ceiling ever existed. She wants to not believe that having a baby will end her career. She wants everything in the world to be made for her, be about her and speak mostly to her, because that’s how it is for men.

Kohan on her daughter loving Hello Kitty:

There was one thing about Hello Kitty that drove me nuts: she has no mouth. According to the company, she speaks from the heart and is an ambassador to the world who is not bound by any language. They want people to project their feelings onto the character and be happy or sad together with Hello Kitty. My motherly response, and my deep-down feeling and my feminist response, is “That’s bullshit.” I feel it’s a statement about girls. I feel that this toy was telling my daughter that she should look adorable with her pink bow, and not express her thoughts or feelings. Let others project them onto her? That’s not okay.

But she really liked the stuff and I spent a fortune. So I grabbed a sharpie and started drawing mouths. I drew mouths on every single girl-dressed-as-cat object that she owned. Open, close, smiling, frowning, sometimes just a line — but they all had mouths. I had to face them all by giving them all full faces.

Read the whole speeches; they’re so good.

+ Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin were rightfully pissed when they found out what Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen, the guys who play their husbands on Grace and Frankie, are getting paid.

“[Tomlin] found out [Waterston and Sheen] are getting the same salary that we are,” says Fonda. “That doesn’t make us happy.”

Tomlin adds, “No. The show is not ‘Sol and Robert’ — it’s ‘Grace and Frankie.'”

+ To punctuate Hayek’s point that ignoring the economic power of women is a stupid move by Hollywood, Mad Max and Pitch Perfect 2 crushed it at the box office this weekend. That’s a female-driven action movie about a woman who rescues a group of sex slaves and destroys their captors, and a film written/directed/starred in by nearly all women. AV Club says the only real loser at the box office this weekend was misogyny.


 

Straight Blanchett

We went through a real roller coaster of feelings last week with Cate Blanchett, huh? I’m still a little shaken, but we’ve got to get it together because we’ve got to talk about Carol, which is leading the Palme d’Or buzz at the halfway point of Cannes. Here are Blanchett, Rooney Mara and director Todd Haynes talking about the film while sitting on a yacht in the sunset. V. relatable.

+ The Hollywood Reporter thinks Mara and Blanchett are “outstanding” and that Haynes’ direction is “fastidious, intelligent, and somewhat leisurely.”

+ HitFix is sure Carol can “enlighten minds” and have a”meaningful calling beyond its artistic achievements.”

+ The Playlist warns that Carol is going to “burst the banks of your heart.”

+ Variety finds the film groundbreaking in terms of examining queer identity, and also: “Even high expectations don’t quite prepare you for the startling impact of Carol, an exquisitely drawn, deeply felt love story that teases out every shadow and nuance of its characters’ inner lives with supreme intelligence, breathtaking poise and filmmaking craft of the most sophisticated yet accessible order. ”

+ The Independent is bananas for Blanchett: “Blanchett’s performance matches that she gave in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. She is a fascinating actress because she brings such Clytemnestra-like fury to roles as fragile and vulnerable women.”

+ Vanity Fair is bananas for the whole shebang: “By the film’s extraordinary final scene—another charged, multitudes-containing look across a room—both Carol and Therese have emerged from a shared crucible more fully human, not immune to whatever pain might await them, but certainly stronger in themselves, better armed.”

So, get psyched! But keep your psyched-ness in check! I don’t want another heartbreaking debacle like last week w/r/t The Lady of the Golden Wood.


 

Hot Takes on TV

There are two things on the internet’s collective mind this week: Game of Thrones and Mad Men. Okay, also T-Swizzle’s “Bad Blood” video and Bey + Nicki Minaj, but we’ve already talked about those things. Here are the other two things:

+ Sansa Stark’s rape on Sunday night’s Game of Thrones has people canceling HBO and breathing fire. If, like me, you only watch Game of Thrones when your girlfriend shows you clips of dragons on YouTube because of how the show is 80 percent rapes and decapitations, you might be wondering why one more rape has set people off so much. Apparently, Sansa was not raped in the books and it had already been established on the show that: Sansa is a victim, the guy who raped her is a psychopath, and the people who were forced to watch her being raped are impotent and/or unfeeling when it comes to helping her.

The storyline has caused Senator Claire McCaskill to disavow the show, The Mary Sue to pull the plug on their coverage, and Flavorwire to declare that the Golden Age of TV has been replaced by the Age of Rape and Torture. Bitch says the guilty pleasure of watching has become too guilty. Hells bells, even Deadspin is now calling GOT  “gross, exploitive and out of ideas.” And HitFix says the controversy isn’t going away.

+ Mad Men ended its six season run on Sunday and oh, I cried. I just want to point you in the direction of some of the smartest feminist things I’ve read about one of the smartest shows to ever air on TV.

“What the Fates of Mad Men’s Women Say About The Show’s Stance on Feminism” (Time)

“How Mad Men Helped Me Understand The Anger In My Mother’s Feminism” (Jezebel)

“In Mad Men’s Finale, Joan and Peggy Switched Places and Became Complete” (IndieWire)

“What Mad Men gets right about the history of feminism” (Vox)


TV Tidbits

+ According to my buddy Heather, the new Fox comedy Grandfathered is going to feature a lesbian character of color. Let’s hope she fares better than all the other lesbians on sitcoms so far this year.

+ Portia de Rossi has been upped to series regular on Scandal.

+ The Bronte sisters are getting a BBC biopic. I hope they explore Charlotte’s relationship with Ellen Nussey, the one that had Nussey’s husband so upset that he was always freaking out about how they needed to burn their letters because of the passionate language they used with each other. The actual phrase Nussey’s husband used to describe their letters was “more dangerous than Lucifer’s match!”

+ Andy Cohen acted out 9 to 5 with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin the other day. (WHERE’S DOLLY, Y’ALL.)

+ Queen Latifah doesn’t care if her lesbian love scene in Bessie made you uncomfortable.

+ Leisha Hailey is going to guest star on ABC Family’s Chasing Life, maybe offer some queer advice to Brenna and Greer.

+ Kim Kardashian says “she’s beautiful” in reference to Bruce Jenner.

+ The official Scream Queens trailer is here. I will not because of Ryan Murphy, but you might! It’s very lady-driven!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FtenR69qmk


 

Also.Also.Also.

This duck is very excited when his human gets off the bus.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 906 articles for us.

47 Comments

      • Heather, it’s GREAT. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are brilliant, and June Diane Raphael as Grace’s daughter Brianna is HILARIOUS.

        It is still a sitcom though, so it does have some problems with plots that wrap up too neatly and dumb sitcom tropes like getting trapped in an elevator, or a person hearing the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time, and some of the kids’ drama is super boring, but none of that is insurmountable, and still makes for a very enjoyable 1/2 hour of television.

        The only big problem the show has is with Sol and Robert and it’s attempts at talking about queer culture. It’s clear the writers sort of know nothing about queer culture, specifically, older gay male culture (which admittedly I know nothing about either). The show really simplifies, or entirely glosses over huge areas of debate, like, the ethics of cheating on your opposite-sex spouse with a same-sex partner versus an opposite-sex partner; the whole marriage thing; gay male “hook-up” culture etc.

        Basically: Come for brilliant female actresses and Grace and Frankie’s friendship, but do not stay if you are looking for quality commentary on queer culture.

        Does any of that help?

      • I have been really enjoying it. I think it is a little stilted in parts. I’m not sure why i think that though – if it’s because I find the acting a little pantomime-ish at times, or maybe it’s just chemistry between four big names running around on screen not quite clicking, or the writing is going for hammish instead of natural. But overall it is thoroughly enjoyable.

      • It is a really good show. I marathoned it in one day to help me process my recent breakup, and I found it really cathartic to watch other women’s lives be completely upended and their ways of dealing with being dumped.

  1. I loved Hello Kitty. I also used to babysit a 3-year-old child who had more Hello Kitty stuff than I ever thought possible. And you know what? I knew H. K had no mouth but never realized how fucked up it was. This woman is awesome. Also, it’s worth noticing that Doraemon (think Hello Kitty in blue and marketed for boys) has a huge red mouth.

  2. I know I shouldn’t look for some kind of educational value on TV or in things like Game of Thrones.

    But I think that GoT is educating people, but in a wrong way. Making violence, rape, abuse a “normal” thing and many people don’t give a shit about it. “Nah, this was not in the books”, “it’s fiction”, “helps with the development of the character”, you can find excuses like this all over the place.

    PD: on a lighter note, anybody has seen/heard something about the movie “Three Generations”?

    It seems that The Weisntein Co. made a deal for this film on Cannes. From what I’ve read about it it seems like a movie I will run to watch: Susan Sarandon plays a lesbian, Naomi Watts is her daughter and Ellen Fanning her transitioning granddaughter (hence the name of the movie).

    • Thank you all, I wanted to see if somebody noticed the “no-mouth” crap.

      Little tomboy Freak did noticed, when she was 6 years old (I’m 34 now) that HK didn’t have a mouth. I think my mother is still working in some kind of answer to that question…

    • I get what you’re saying but very few of the funko pops have mouths, male or female. The dudes may have facial hair but no mouths, including super macho Thor, Batman and Captain America. They just don’t have mouths unless the mouth is key to the characters identity, eg Marceline from Adveture time or nosferatu or Pam Swynford De Beaufort…so far in my research mostly vampires have mouths.
      I admit bias because I like weird plastic gimcrackery like this, (and I want my own tiny Cosima Niehaus), but this seems more an equal gender mouth removal situation as part of an overall design concept, not some BS speak-from-the-heart-no-mouth-for-you-lady situation.

      • This was kind of an experimental thing.

        When I was a little girl, my older sister loved HK and I was not a 6 six year old premature feminist genius, I just didn’t like it.

        This was my weird way to show that when we like/love something, we may skip some details, and sometimes we shouldn’t do that (several TV shows, movies, toys for childrean and maybe 1000 etcs. comes to mind).

        I’m very proud that I didn’t any get comments saying “wow, I want one of those” or something like that.

      • I realise that, I just like the individuality of unique human beings and animals, mouths. I love mouth shapes, a thing of mine. (Kate Mulgrew, Joan Baez, Jennifer Beals)

        I agree with Jenji and would draw various mouth shapes on those Pop dolls. I was upset seeing the Vincent Vega doll without a mouth. Very Twilight Zone opening credits in the 1980s.

    • Oh, wow. I’m picturing Jenji Kohen in like Hot Topic ripping these things out of the boxes and drawing mouths on all of them.

      I was really into Hello Kitty when I was a kid. (I really liked the peach bubblegum from the Hello Kitty store.) Now I’m never not going to see the mouthlessness!

  3. Breaking from the New York Times: Fun Home will launch a national tour in the 2016-2017 theatrical season. This is HUGE, because Fun Home has already been pushing the boundaries of what “commercial theatre” is on Broadway–the fact that a tour is financially viable is astounding (in the best way possible!).

    The “Fun Home” tour is more surprising news because of the show’s serious subject matter. In an interview Wednesday, the show’s producers said they had made the decision after a number of road presenters saw the production while in New York for a conference last week, and said they would be interested in seeing the show tour.

    The producers said the tour would be modest in length and would be priced lower than some other shows. But they also noted that numerous other serious and small-scale shows have toured successfully in the past, and that the operators of theaters around the country actively seek a diverse mix of productions to present to their subscribers.

    “There are places the tour won’t go, but there are so many where it will go — people are responding to the show because of its universal themes,” said Barbara Whitman, who is one of the lead producers, along with Kristin Caskey and Mike Isaacson. “It’s about a specific family, but it’s a story for everyone, and presenters are getting that.”

    Now, the important question is how can I get myself seen for Medium Alison? I am ready. I can belt Changing My Major.

    In other Fun Home news, The Interval (a website dedicated to female voices of the theatre) had a great interview with Lisa Kron (book and lyrics) this week. And if you haven’t seen their interview with Jeanine Tesori (music) from several weeks ago, read that too. What incredible theatre journalism, and what incredible responses.

  4. So, i’ve stopped watching GOT somewhere during season 2 and everytime i see an article related to the show (you can’t really avoid it if you’re an internet user) it makes me more glad that i did. To be honest i didn’t stop watching because this show violates women, it does that to everybody. I guess i just grew tired of the overflow of the characters who disgust me all the time and it took me a while to realize that everytime there’s seems to be someone remotely decent in this show it just means something horrible is coming. At some point i just had enough.

    So i haven’t seen Sansa’s wedding night/rape scene which brings me to my point and that is the fact that we’re talking about the ‘controversial, unnecessary, etc…’ rape scene in the ‘most watched, downloaded, critically acclaimed’ show on air and we have to specify the scene by the female characters name because there was so many!!!! How fu**ed up is that!?!?!?

    And as a cherry on the cake if anybody points that out they’ll end up on receiving end of a rant including words: overreacting, oversensitive, stupid…. and feminist!! Almost forgot feminist…the worst ever word EVER !!! :DDD

  5. The news about people speaking out against Sansa’s rape scene on GOT is……. VALIDATING! Thank you!!!!! I’ve officially given up on the show. They’ve really just gone too far.. and I don’t even like Sansa. The only things that kept me watching, really, was Brienne of Tarth *swoon*, dragons, white walkers, Tyrion’s witticisms, and Arya Stark. That, and the fact that nearly all of my friends watch this show, and it is fun to come back from work, eat pizza/drink beer, and watch TV with a big group of people. But I can’t stomach it anymore… literally. It made me so thoroughly sick and enraged, couldn’t even finish my damned pizza. I get the whole, “Oh but if they left out all the rape and torture in a series about a medieval-like society it wouldn’t be true to how it really was back then” argument, but come the f*ck off it… Like ice zombies and shape-shifting death cults are true to medieval history. Even most of my male, die-hard GOT-fan-boys agreed the rape scene was completely unnecessary. The freakin’ wedding was disturbing enough.

  6. Queen Latifah may not care if her lesbian love scenes in Bessie made us uncomfortable, but the choice in how we choose to react to the scene is taken away from us all together when HBO Asia apparently decides to remove all lesbian scenes from its broadcast.

    I didn’t know there was a lesbian love scene because I didn’t see it when I watched it on my TV.
    I didn’t know there “are several scenes in the film where Latifah’s character makes out with other women” because Bessie’s lips never touched Lucille’s when I watched it.

    All this while the scene where she rides her male lover is kept intact, of course.

  7. *sigh* I couldn’t even get into the GOT books. I admire the world building, I even admire (in a complicated limited way) the ‘grittier’ attempt at fantasy, but after a book and a half I realized I had no empathy for anyone, all the characters pissed me off, the plot never went anywhere except torturemurderrapeland and it was missing all the parts of fantasy I actually want to read.

    I find it bitterly hilarious that the problem with /this/ rape is that it wasn’t in the books. Really? THAT’S the threshold you’re going to set for when its okay on your TV in exploitive, awful, fashions? Fuck the lot of you.

    • Yeah, I agree about torturemurderrapeland. I only made it about 100 pages into the first book before I was like, “Nope!”

      I also think it’s weird that *this* is the rape that sent people over the edge. A lot of my critics, even, are like, “Well, Sana’s been through enough already. She doesn’t deserve to be raped on top of all that.” And I’m like, “Can you HEAR yourself? NO ONE deserves to be raped.”

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