Monday, February 27, 2012

80s Lesbians and a Young Girl who Loved Them

You know, I love 80s lesbians in movies.  I don’t want to cast aspersions on a decade of cinema, but the 80s were totally dyke-tastic in terms of the lovely babes that graced the screen.  Some of you weirdoes might not agree that the following were lesbians at all, and to you I would say, you’re in some serious denial.  Luckily if you’re reading this, denial probably doesn’t apply to you, so I won’t have to justify any of my choices here.  I am also not pretending to be comprehensive in my survey here.  These were simply the ones that sprang to mind first and before I got sick of typing.  So, in order of appearance in time, not preference, here are some of my favorites from the decade

1) Jodie Foster: Freaky Friday (1976) and The Hotel New Hampshire (1984)

Okay, so I can already hear you complaining, “Freaky Friday is a 70s movie!”  And you would be right.  Especially if you’re one of those assholes that checks your goddamn smart phone to prove everyone wrong all the time.  Maybe you should think about stuffing that phone up your ass!  But I digress.  Anyway, Freaky Friday totally counts because they played it on TV just about every day throughout the decade, in the same way that most 70s movies were played. Why?  Because it was cheaper than paying for a newer movie.  Anyway, I would also argue that it’s often better to look at the beginning of decades as usually having holdovers anyway.  What is this, some kind of frigging Inquisition?  I’m including it whether you want me to or not, you jerk!

This movie is so amazingly dykey I can hardly begin to explain what it meant to me.  Does that mean I think it had something to do with me eventually turning into a lesbian?  Doubtful.  I just know that at the time, one look atJodie checking herself out in the mirror as she wears an awesome football jerseyand I was entranced.  I loved her sarcastic, smart alecky- repertoire and scratchy, deep voice.  I loved her sporty looks and how she played field hockey and water-skied, for the love of god, which I was dying to do (and tried and failed once).   Anyway, she was a baby-dyke’s dream, and like all the 80s movie lesbians I’ll mention here, the movie had to set her up with the dopiest, girliest boy in town.

Although this is not the case in a slightly later movie with Jodie, The Hotel New Hampshire, in which she is queer as a three-dollar bill.  In fact, she falls in love with a for-real furry, a woman who dresses as a bear.  If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out on some serious surreality.  I recommend the John Irving novel too.

 2) Helen Slater in The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)

Okay, so is this not as cute a dyke as you could possibly find?  Look at those big eyes!  That hair!!  Oh, strangely, I think I have that haircut now.  Weird.  Anyway, I had such a thing for this woman I tried to make my one and only Barbie look like her, and when I fucked up cutting the hair, I tore the doll’s head off.

Note that right before the scene where she cuts her hair (starts about 5:05), Billie Jean is watching Joan of Arc, another great dyke movie in all its iterations.  Once again, she’s paired with the nerdy boy, but there seems to be some weird chemistry with both the other girls, including, of course, the girl who would be the voice of Lisa Simpson.

3) Pamela Segall in Willy/Milly (1986)
Here’s another film I must have watched at least a million times.  As this one is probably less familiar to most of you, I’ll give you a brief synopsis.  Milly wants to be a boy because boys get to do all things girls can’t, which, in this movie, means being taken seriously as a scientist.  An eclipse is coming, and a child-age Seth Green sells Milly a lovely, racist Native American thing that will allow her to become a man with one wish.  So it happens.  Her parents learn to accept it and her best friend, a girl, starts hitting on him, now Willy.  Willy has to learn how to become a man, in part by swearing, but, when he falls for his new best friend, a dude, he wishes he remained a she.  He eventually gets his wish, and out comes this person on the left: somewhere in between?  It’s unclear.  Anyway, it’s some serious gender screwing, my friends.

4) Vasquez (Jeanette Goldstein) in Aliens (1986)

Vasquez was, at the time, the perfect woman for me.  Not only was she lean and mean, she was a Marine at a time when I was obsessed with joining the military.  She kicked ass, and she made most of the men in her squad look like pansies, especially the ever-whimpering Bill Paxton.

While Sigourney was also pretty kick-ass in the movie, it took me a lot longer to appreciate her.  I don’t think I had a serious crush on Siggy, as I like to call her, until the 90s when she shaved her head.

5) Mary Stuart Masterson in Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Okay, so finally, to top off the decade, we have one of the strangest, dykiest characters of all time.  Watts—a lovely, androgynous name if I ever heard one—plays the drums and is in love with her best friend, Eric Stoltz, who, throughout the movie, looks and sounds like more of a woman than both of his supposed love interests.  

There is a seriously smoking girl-locker room scene, where Mary Stuart fondles herself as she stares at LeaThompson, supposedly while she is “checking out the competition” (starts at about 3:45).  She’s checking her out all right.  Anyway, the movie is some kind of a mess, and it’s hard to know why they included Mary Stuart at all, even at the level of plot (but thank God they did!)  Instead of a girl-boy-girl triangle, we seem to have a girl-girl-girl one...unless they wanted a lesbian movie, and I don’t think they did.  She couldn’t be less interested in Eric if she tried. Check out her super-cute chauffer uniform at the end of the movie for the added bonus of cute cross-dressing (about 4:40).


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Meme-ing of Life

So, I’m not the kind of person who tries to stay ahead of the curve, trend-wise. I usually wait for trends to wear themselves out before hopping on the band-wagon. I learned my lesson with MySpace, after all. Everyone told me I had to get one. I was so behind without one. So I got one. And guess what? A year later it was all over.

That said, it should come as no surprise that I didn’t really start looking at blogs until about a year ago, and I had no idea what a “meme” was until a couple of months ago when some friends starting meme-ing (I can only hope someone else has already verbed the term “meme” so I’m not ahead of the curve on this!).

Memes are one of those things that, done right, looks brilliant, and done poorly, seems like someone just had too much time on her hands. The simplest way to explain a meme is that it is a picture with a funny caption. The best ones embody a certain amount of situational irony. The simplest ones involve the same image in each picture and the captions all fall under the same theme. For example, some of these include Courage Wolf, Socially Awkward Penguin and Philosoraptor.

From prolonged observation of mistakes in spelling and punctuation, it would seem that most of these are made by a variety of anonymous contributors.
Wow--Scumbag Steve doesn't know how to
 spell or punctuate either. "Replies" please.
Figure it out people! It’s not that hard, really.

I think Business Cat mean he "Realized" he was a cat.
The slightly more complicated meme takes a different picture each time and attaches a funny caption to it. The simplest of these is probably the “lolcatz” meme, which takes funny pictures of cats and makes them funnier by adding silly captions, usually misspelled.

A spin-off of this kind of meme is the “Game of Lols,” which riffs on the fantasy books/series “Game of Thrones.” This takes more specialized knowledge to understand. Those of us who have plowed through 6,000 pages of George R.R. Martin’s prose can be happy to know our work has paid off.

…And then there’s the “academic” meme. Take a series of pictures on a single subject and give it a jargon-y caption, thus providing humor for a narrow yet appreciative audience. The academic meme I first came across was Feminist Ryan Gosling, which takes pictures of Ryan looking hunky and captions them with texts about feminism, using the “Hey girl” greeting that a friend of mine uses in her “Hey Girl, It’s Nic Cage” tumblr.


Yet another friend of mine has taken the academic motif meme and appended it to the main character of the show Friday Night Lights. Academic Coach Taylor is a motivational figure specially geared towards all us wannabe academics sweating it out over our dissertations. He’s not above some meta-commenting on the world of memes too (a popular topic for memes, of course).

While I enjoy a good meme, what frustrates me is that I can’t think of a single meme I could be the proud owner of! I simply have no creativity in that line of thinking. I mean, what would my meme be about? The eighteenth-century? That seems very niche. Being an English major? That’s already got to be out there, probably executed better than I could ever do. Jane Austen? Again, very niche and probably already exists.

So then I start trying to think of the craziest combinations possible. “Lesbian Jean-Luc Picard”! “Academic Carrie Bradshaw”! “Feminist Darth Vader”!

As you can probably sense, none of these is worth pursuing—for obvious reasons.

Business Cat -- duh.
The problem is that to be good, a meme has to be culturally relevant, themed, and wittily ironic. When I think of something good, I’ll let you know. For now, I’ll just post the rest of the examples I downloaded. (Just a coincidence they are all about cats....) Happy memeing! 

Hipster Kitty -- obvi!