Pop Culture Fix: St. Vincent and Amandla Stenberg Are Making Feminist Movies For You

This is your Pop Culture Fix and I am this week’s host. This week is a good week because the sun is finally shining in New York City and also because two of my favorite/two of the most feminist TV shows return to my loving arms. Yes, my friends, it’s time once again for Orphan Black and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. (Females are strong as hell.)


Movies

+ Amandla Stenberg is on her way to NYU’s famed Tisch School of the Arts, and so she went ahead and uploaded the film that got her in. It’s called Blue Girls Burn Fast. It sure is queer. It’s got some snappy dialogue. And it’s very film school.

+ Guess who else made you a movie? It’s St. Vincent! Well, she’s in the process of it at least. She has written and plans to direct a feminist horror film that will be part of a female-helmed anthology that includes “four deadly tales by four killer women.” I wonder if she knows any queer actresses she could cast as the lead.


Teevee

Gawker’s io9 is alsp now marveling at The 100’s queer fandom, and giving some mainstream attention to femslash fan fiction. (Don’t read the comments.)

And this conversation, which is coming to dominate the TV criticism conversation, is happening because of the tiny migratory fandom that didn’t shut up, and instead got smarter and savvier with their complaints. Femslash has come a long way from The Facts of Life.

+ Raven’s back on Black-ish tonight. Her first appearance as Dre’s lesbian sister (whom everyone in the family thought just lived with her lady mechanic) was fantastic, so obviously I can’t wait to see her again. I’ll have a full report for you in Friday’s Boob(s On Your) Tube.

+ Cece’s former girlfriend, Megan Fox, is coming back to New Girl next season because yes, indeed, it has been renewed.


Famous Queers, Out and About

+ Evan Rachel Wood Bisexual talked to Marie Claire about being bisexual.

Personally, I’ve been very open about my bisexuality because I was terrified growing up and felt very alone. There are misconceptions—a lot of people think that you’re confused if you’re bisexual. They want you to be either gay or straight. And there’s bi-phobia in the straight community, as well as in the LGBT community, which breaks my heart. There’s nothing more frustrating than people who fight against bigotry and closed-mindedness and then turn around and subject other people to the same things. Like fragrance, sexuality is just a really personal thing.

(The article is also about perfume. I forgot to mention that part. That fragrance analogy really threw you, huh?)

+ Vanity Fair spotlights Rowan Blanchard this month. She and Amandla Stenberg make me so excited about the future of queer folks in pop culture. The interview is in three parts. Here’s the first one.

“I feel strongly about everything, especially anything that relates to girlhood. I think girls and people of color get more representation on TV than they do on film. I want to make sure girls are carrying their own narratives—we’re not just a side thing.”

Also.Also.Also.

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 863 articles for us.

17 Comments

  1. She and Amandla Stenberg make me so excited about the future of queer folks in pop culture.

    Wait, wasn’t it established that Rowan is not actually queer? She says that she calls herself queer because she’s “open” to liking any gender in the future, but that so far she’s only been attracted to boys. That does not equate to being queer. I’m not hating on her for it because she’s just a kid and she’s still a million times more aware than I was at her age, but I am really not down with using queer willy-nilly like this. We’ve become too careless with our use of the word, forgetting about its history as a slur and that many LGBTQ people still have painful associations with queer, especially if they’re older.

    • 1) Let’s be realistic about what she can get away with, or even what she thinks she’ll be able to get away with. She works for Disney. It’s entirely possible that this IS a bi kid trying to express herself in a guarded way, or trying to test the waters. It’s even possible someone made her take it back. I recall Miley Cyrus not having great things to say about their handlers, so let’s try to at least remember that these kids have handlers.

      2) People use “attracted” in different ways. It’s a pretty nebulous concept. Someone could say what Rowan said and mean “I don’t see any difference between people of different genders in terms of attractiveness, but so far my big crushes have all been on boys.” I think it’s valid for a person like that to identify as queer, at least until more of a pattern emerges.

      3) No one is immune to homophobia, internalized or otherwise, especially not queer children. She could’ve taken it back on her own because she felt guilty or afraid, or because people were being terrible at her. Maybe she had loved ones pressuring her to take it back. Maybe she felt like she didn’t really count, if something like the aforementioned “doesn’t feel like there’s a gender difference, only boys so far” was the issue. Let’s also not forget that a lot of queer people at one point felt like just allies – LGBTQ rights resonated personally, but obviously of course it was just from the perspective of a cis, straight person who was just really open-minded… until that wasn’t so obvious. Maybe Rowan feels queer because something’s resonating with her! Maybe she feels like she has the potential to like anyone because she does. Maybe it feels queer for her to like boys, and there’s something going on with gender there.

      It feels like we’re jumping at the bit to say this kid’s a faker, is all I’m saying.

      • But the thing is, right now all we have to go by are her own words. And she very quickly clarified her stance by saying that she had only ever been attracted to boys. Maybe it was due to handlers or outside pressure. Who knows? So do we then extend the word ‘queer’ to every other (outwardly) cis straight person who deigns to use the word for the same reason?

        I’m a lot more tolerant of (presumably) straight girls talking about their purportedly no homo “girl crushes” than a lot of lesbian/bi women are, because of all the things you mention. Same for when someone refers to themselves as “mostly gay” which tends to bring out a lot of angry LGB people going, “You mean bi! Don’t appropriate the gay label and erase bisexuality!”

        But ‘queer’ is a slur. And as such, yes I do believe there should be stricter rules in place for who can refer to themselves as queer:

        1) You do not get to “reclaim” the slur for anyone else. I can’t tell you how often someone has objected to being referred to as queer, only to be dismissed with, “But everyone uses it, it’s been used in academia for so long, blah blah blah.” Can’t people see the hypocrisy in adopting ‘queer’ because they think it’s inherently more inclusive, while dismissing people who fee alienated by the word, like there’s no good reason for them to feel that way? Reclaiming a slur only works when it’s done with the person’s consent. Otherwise, it’s just a slur. I think there’s a bit of ageism involved here too because often it’s the older LGBTQ crowd who has a problem with queer but of course we like to ignore them.

        2. If you profess to be cis and straight, then you don’t get to use queer. Maybe you’re not really cis and straight after all, maybe it’s something that you’re struggling with. But why should you get to use a slur that was used towards LGBTQ people before you’re even ready to admit that you’re LGBTQ? And I’m saying this as someone who repressed my sexuality for years and didn’t even begin to think I might not be straight until my late twenties. Started questioning my sexuality when I was 28 and was only able to admit that I was LGB when I was 30. During those couple of years in between, when I started getting inklings of the little gay unicorn inside me but could not admit it to anyone else, I was still presenting to the world as a straight person (although I’m pretty sure a lot of my friends figured it out…sigh). I don’t think it would have been right for me to use queer. I don’t think it would have been right for me to act like I had the authority to speak on LGBTQ matters in the same way that an open LGBTQ person would. Sure, I knew (reluctantly) that I wasn’t straight, but the rest of the world didn’t, and it would have come across as yet another ally speaking over the marginalized. We have enough of that in the world, we don’t need more of it.

        Like I said, I’m not hating on Rowan. I’m certainly not using a pejorative like “faker” towards her. I simply think that her use of the word is misguided.

        • As a side note, I’m so glad that reclaiming ‘chink’ isn’t a thing. The LGBTQ community’s progression towards adopting ‘queer’ as a catch-all was such a mistake. Ugh.

        • Just wanted to expand on why I think it wouldn’t be appropriate for someone claiming “ally” (while actually being LGBTQ) to act like anything more: In the same vein as to why good LGBTQ representation on television matters, the sort of discourse we see on the Internet between the privileged and the marginalized also matters. I do not want to contribute to the culture that tells us it’s okay for an ally to speak over LGBTQ people*. As someone who is still semi-closeted (and is planning to stay closeted to the rest of my family until my grandma dies because I’d feel horribly guilty about causing her any sort of pain or shame), I have all the sympathy in the world for people who feel like they can’t be open about their sexual orientation. But there are some privileges that come with being out, and one privilege is to speak with authority on LGBTQ matters (as they personally pertain to you), or to reclaim an LGBTQ slur if you wish. If you’re not willing to be out, as I wasn’t for a long time, then I don’t think you get to reclaim slurs or act like anything more than an ally. I’m still in the closet on Facebook, so I’m careful about how I interact with my openly gay Facebook friends; I make sure that I “stay in my lane” (so to speak) and not talk over them.

          * This goes beyond LGBTQ issues. You see it a lot with racial discourse as well. I am admittedly very sensitive to allies speaking over the marginalized because I still have bad memories of notable anti-racist (lol) Tim Wise speaking over and insulting POC who disagreed with him, like that one time he told an Asian person that he (Wise) knew more than the Asian guy did about Asian issues because he had written more books. Fun times.

          • Yay, another edit! – I realize that my “if you’re not willing to be out” makes it sound like I think anyone who stays in the closet is a matter of ‘won’t’ and not ‘can’t.’ Very poor word choice on my part. I guess technically anyone *can* come out but if you’re (for example) financially dependent on your parents and you risk being kicked out/disowned, or you have to worry about physical violence, or any number of abusive responses, etc., then that’s a matter of callous nitpicky semantics. (Even if you’re not worried about any of that, but you have this crippling terror…)

  2. Ugh, that perfume article is so disappointing and so dumb. Fragrance actually isn’t personal. It effects anyone and everyone within your vicinity. It’s like smoking. Bad for your health and it stinks.

    “There’s nothing more frustrating than people who fight against bigotry and closed-mindedness and then turn around and subject other people to the same things. Like fragrance, sexuality is just a really personal thing.”

    This statement is so ironic. I could say the same thing about her in regards to accessibility and accommodation for people disabled by perfume. There are people in the LGBT community who can’t access public spaces (and other spaces no one considers like bars, and social gatherings) because people won’t give up perfume/scented products. Fragrance is a very public thing.

    I hope Evan Rachel Wood sees the light and stops endorsing this crap.

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