Despite being an avid lover of ghost stories and haunted houses, I’m not much of a horror movie fan. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to this film genre – I saw the film Quarantine and barely slept for a few days and there were some episodes of the show Supernatural that freaked me out if I watched them too late at night. But when the film Get Out came out with wild praises, I was intrigued by and ultimately loved the film.
Recently, I listened up the popular podcast S-Town and ended up listening to all seven episodes in about 24 hours. This podcast is wonderfully produced and one of the latest projects from the teams behind This American Life and Serial. I was initially hesitant to listen to this show because I wasn’t sure how the show would go. It has been lauded as a true crime podcast and the description of it alludes to it being similar in nature to other popular podcasts like Serial and Missing Richard Simmons. And while the description doesn’t adequately describe the final product of the show, it was an interesting (and sometimes rough) listen.
This documentary follows several of the street cats that live in Istanbul and the people who care for them. Istanbul has had street cats for generations and generations, with the cats becoming a vital part of the city’s culture. There are thousands of street cats that roam the city and some of the people there have developed a deep love for them.
Recently, I saw the documentary Freedom to Marry and was thoroughly underwhelmed. A part comes from my own doubts around the now finished fight for marriage equality but another part comes from just how predictable the documentary was. Jay Weissberg reviewed the film for Variety and wrote that:
Despite a small theatrical run, “The Freedom to Marry” feels designed for TV in every way: It does its job more or less efficiently (we could do without Wolfson’s parents’ friends talking about what a bright boy he was) in cookie-cutter documentary fashion. Rosenstein, a childhood acquaintance of Wolfson’s, is unable to disguise the artificiality of certain “spontaneous” conversations before the cameras.
And that’s exactly what it felt like. The message and theme of the documentary oversaturated the film in a way that felt like you were being hit over the head with what the filmmakers wanted you to take away from it. That doesn’t mean it was completely terrible or anything – there were some great moments and the film does hark back to how gay people have been treated in the United States. But I ultimately left the theater feeling underwhelmed by the production and forgotten by the larger LGBTQ+ community. (That last part isn’t necessarily tied to the documentary and is a larger trend that I’ve personally felt in the past few months.)
Honestly, I was kind of excited to see the new live action Beauty and the Beast. Like some people my age, I grew up on Disney and Dreamworks films. I knew many of the popular songs by heart and The Lion King was one of the first movies I remember watching. I would daydream of going to Disneyland or Disneyworld and while I don’t think she’s perfect, I love the idea of Emma Watson as Belle.
But there’s a part of the movie that I feel conflicted about: LeFou being gay. Because of this tiny subplot, there’s an Alabama theater not showing the film, Russia has banned those under 16 from seeing it, and Malaysian censors requesting that the tiny scene showing him dancing with another man, all of which makes me want to see it just to spite them. And from what I hear, this subplot is one of the tiniest points in the entire film.
With one of the latest federal actions revoking federal guidelines that support transgender students to use public school bathrooms that match their gender identity. While the stance from the administration is to leave transgender rights up to the states and local schools, this move also reverses work done by the Obama administration last year and means that protections and support would vary widely from area to area.
Learning about others and deconstructing your own biases and assumptions is critical in any sort of activist work. There are books, films, television shows, podcasts, YouTube videos, and so much more that cover a wide range of issues and topics. Some films and television shows to watch in this current era include:
Cleve Jones is a well-known labor and gay rights activist and his recent memoir, When We Rise: My Life in the Movement, follows his activism and life as a gay man during the 1970s and 80s in San Francisco and on. He worked with Harvey Milk and State Assemblyman Art Agnos, created the AIDS Memorial Quilt, cofounded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and now works with the hotel, restaurant, and garment workers’ labor union, UNITE HERE. When We Rise is a powerfully authentic memoir about his life, travels, work, and experience with HIV/AIDS and offers an amazing insight to a rarely talked about piece of US history.
My depression is ever-present. It’s always there in my life – some days are good, other days are bad, most days I simply exist. I’ll go weeks feeling fine, not quite up to par with everyone else in my life but definitely productive in my own way. Then my depression will start to creep back and soon, I’ll be weighed down by a heavy fog.
Keeping up with all that’s going on in the world is daunting and overwhelming. I made the mistake of putting my phone down for a couple hours awhile back and came back to the news of the UC Berkley protest over Milo’s scheduled talk and a whole lot of other stuff. That’s why I’m so thankful for newsletters that compile news and much more. So, I thought I’d share some of my favorites:
- Bim Adewunmi’s ‘…the fuck is this?’ – okay so this one is less news related but this (sporadic) newsletter is always a joy to read.
- Bitch Media’s Weekly Reader – this newsletter is a collection of different recent pieces about feminism and pop culture. If you have any interest in feminism and pop culture, I definitely recommend this one.
- Buzzfeed’s Another Round Newsletter – as if Fridays weren’t already great, this newsletter comes out weekly on Fridays and in addition to sharing relevant links, there are animal gifs, things to read and watch, and random internet ephemera.
- The Daily WTF – this one is from WTF Just Happened Today? and specifically collects the daily things that Trump and his administration are up to.
- In Other Words newsletter – this is a feminist community center and bookstore in Portland, often known for the basis of the Portlandia “Women and Women First”. (Although, the show and center infamously split ways.)
- Guerrilla Feminism: The Newsletter – Guerrilla Feminism is an intersectional feminist nonprofit and this newsletter is sporadic but remains a great way to find out what’s going on with GF.
Are there any newsletters that I missed? I feel like my email is mostly just newsletters these days but with such great content, I’m alright with that!