I've been slightly under the weather for the last week, which means, of course, soup, self-pity and comfort reads. Rather than my traditional winter-sniffles re-re-re-read of the Belgariad, I thought I'd go wandering around the historical romance category. That is: duchess porn.At Pornokitsch, Jared Shurin expresses appreciation for "5 things in historical romance I wantonly desire to see in epic fantasy," and commenters suggest where to find them. At the Journal of Popular Romance Studies, similarly meta yet more searching questions arise. [more inside]
“It isn’t just the crazy cat ladies, although they’re there in droves. It’s the six year-olds chanting the name of their favourite cats. It’s the hipsters there smoking cigarettes, hip-hop dudes, country dudes… It is the kind of thing where you have to learn to make everybody happy,”
The Ballad of the Unpaid Intern. Not That Kind of Secretary. The Home Economics of Domestic Workers. Parts of Grace Bello's series Women's Work on how popular culture depicts working women. Via.
Feminist Frequency is a videoblog by Anita Sarkeesian that critiques pop-culture from the perspective of a feminist geek. She explains her approach in this video. Among the topics she's covered in her videos are fembots, the boy's club veneer of file sharing sites and gendered toy ads. Sarkeesian has recently started to make a series of videos for Bitch Magazine called Tropes vs. Women, about "the reoccurring themes and representations of women in Hollywood films and TV shows." So far there are four episodes: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Women in Refrigerators, The Smurfette Principle and The Evil Demon Seductress.
Dare 2 Share Ministries offers profiles and tips on how to "share your faith" with fourteen different types of friends a teen Christian might have, such as Andy the Atheist, Marty the Mormon, Jenna the Jew, Sid the Satanist, Mo the Muslim and Willow the Wiccan. If none of those strategies work, they also offer articles on how to "use the buzz in current teen culture to initiate God-talk with your friends" by "sharing your faith" through Indiana Jones, Halo 3, Brokeback Mountain, Kung Fu Panda and The X Files.
Dying Speeches & Bloody Murders digitizes over five hundred broadsides owned by the Harvard Law Library, all of them devoted to "last dying speeches"--that is, sensational accounts of crime, punishment, and (fictional) confession, intended to be sold at public executions. The New York State Historical Association has an online exhibition devoted to nineteenth-century American murder pamphlets. You can find a couple of seventeenth-century examples at the Early Modern Web and the Folger Library. Old Bailey Online briefly puts this literature into context. (Main link via C18-L.)
Jump Jim Crow, through the hoops of one Robert Christgau's erudition as he surveys the literature extant in In Search of Jim Crow: Why Postmodern Minstrelsy Studies Matter, through multiple readings of Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop, Demons of Disorder: Early Blackface Minstrels and Their World and and Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class. Consider, too, The Minstrel Cycle from Reading The Commitments and other various and sundry attempts to peek inside the minstrel mask—all multiple readings reading blackface minstrels from the pejorative to the explorative, subversive to oppressive, past to future, unfolding tesseractly, if not exactly, with singing, dancing and extraordinary elocutions. Buy your tickets and step within for The Meller Drammer of Minstrelsy in The Minstrel Show 2.0…
Pop Vultures, perhaps the freshest show to grace our radio airwaves in recent years has been cancelled. Host Kate Sullivan and a collection of friends mused on pop music and associated pop culture with passion, a strong does of "um" and "uh, like" and an always great soundtrack. You can listen (for the moment anyway) to the archives . R.I.P.
If you're in New York City or LA between now and June 27th, the Museum of Television and Radio is presenting "Not That There's Anything Wrong With That --The History of Gay and Lesbian Images on Television" (via the Queer as Folk section of Showtime's site) (Anyone else remember Robert Reed playing a transsexual on Medical Center?)
If you get all your news from watching Weekend Update or The Daily Show, you might find FootnoteTV helpful. The site comments and expounds on the newsworthy topics that often crop up in television shows. The parent site, newsaic, has subsites that examine comics and popular culture, among other things, as well.
So the issue of India's rise in the IT world ("penetrating America's economic core," worries Business Week) has been discussed (here and here), but what about their influence in pop culture? It's hard to escape Panjabi MC in the UK. Jay-Z and Missy Elliott sampled S.Asian music, and now Britney Spears has a bhangra-flavored remix (even if her love of "Indian spiritual religions" doesn't mean she's heard of Hinduism). And there's more -- a Baywatch actress is the first foreigner to star in a Bollywood flick. From Pop Idol to American Idol, now there's Bollywood Star. "Bend it Like Beckham" director Gurinder Chadha is doing a Bollywood version of "Pride and Prejudice." Is this just the exotic flavor of the month, or a cultural shift in line with the economic changes ahead? (and, just for fun -- a dig at the whole S.Asian music collaboration thing, from a site that appears to be The Onion for British Asians)
The Minstrel Show The Minstrel Show presents us with a strange, fascinating and awful phenomenon. Minstrel shows emerged from preindustrial European traditions of masking and carnival. But in the US they began in the 1830s, with working class white men dressing up as plantation slaves. These men imitated black musical and dance forms, combining savage parody of black Americans with genuine fondness for African American cultural forms. By the Civil War the minstrel show had become world famous and respectable. Late in his life Mark Twain fondly remembered the "old time nigger show" with its colorful comic darkies and its rousing songs and dances. By the 1840s, the minstrel show had become one of the central events in the culture of the Democratic party.. The image of white men in blackface, miming black song, dance and speech is considered the last word in racist bigotry for some. And yet, standing at the crossroads of race, class and high and low culture, blackface minstrelsy is one fascinating topic in academic circles. It’s history is intertwined with the rise of abolitionism, the works of Mark Twain and the histories of vaudeville, American vernacular music, radio, television, movies, in fact all of what is called popular culture. Details within.