Saturday, March 6, 2010

My new favorite show, with a surprisingly feminist bint!

Oh man guys! I got a promotion and have pretty much lost the will to live! And the will to update this thing on a regular basis! Woo! Seriously, I have very little free time anymore, and when I do, I just want to lie comatose on the couch watching my new super-favorite show, which is the topic of today's post.


Really, who would have thought that Fox would keep a great show on the air for more than a season? Sure as heck not me. Their track record for canceling shows well before their time speaks for itself, as well as their penchant for letting shows go on way too long, because they make lots of money (cough cough, X-Files, cough). Thankfully, that is not the case with Bones, which is currently in the middle of its fifth season. This show is pretty awesome, you guys, and the nerd in me is so happy to have taken the time to watch a few episodes and get hooked.

Premise: Special Agent Seeley Booth (the ever smolderingly and hysteric-inducing David Boreanaz) with the FBI partners up with premier forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperence Brennen (Emily Deschanel, sister of Zooey, and probably the better actress - I'm sorry, but did you see "Tin Man"? EW) of the Jeffersonian Institute to solve homicides where the remains are degraded beyond recognition. That means usually a skeleton, possibly with some chunks of wormy meat hanging off of it. And they aren't shy about the gooey, goopy, buggy, rotting stuff. It's all there for you to see, in its drippy and totally gross glory. And rats. They have rats. Squee!

Let me do a rundown of why this show kicks most other shows' asses.

1.) Nerd Science! Granted, a lot of the tests done are a.) very expensive, b.) would probably take longer than shown, and c.) require brains more brilliant than usually found, ergo, the tests you see on the show are less likely to actually be used in most homicide cases. A scene from one episode illustrates the point: Doctor Saroyan (Cam) has just taken over as head of the department, and Booth asks why she took the job. She picks up a shiny, steel pair of bone cutters and says, "This probably costs $2,000. Back at the coroners, I used a pair of bolt cutters."

So yes, fancy, high dollar science, and for the record, the hologram cube is pretty out there. But! The forensic anthropologist who's books and life inspired the show is a consultant on the show, and she says she tries to keep the science "honest." I can dig that. You have to admit that it's way more believable and probably accurate than CSI, where they get crystal clear images from grainy parking garage footage reflected in an oil spill at an angle. And you know what? It's really nice to watch a show where the language isn't dumbed down for the general populace, and I feel smarter after watching it. Unlike "Cougar Town," a guilty pleasure that will be the subject of a future post.

Plus, watching Hodgins get super-excited about bugs, minerals, and pollen is so adorable.

2.) David Boreanaz.

Look, I'm only human. You put Boreanaz in a suit with stripey rainbow socks, a "Cocky" belt buckle, and that grin, I'm really not going to be able to keep composure. This show really allows him to come into his own, moreso than Joss Whedon's dark and tormented Angel (whom we teenage girls and gay boys know and love to the ends of the Earth), and certainly much better than that piece of crap "horror" movie, Valentine (I wish I could find a screencap of that for you, it's SO BAD). His character is so manly and balls to the walls brave (there's a scene where he's being tortured and acts like it ain't no thang), but is uncomfortable with Dr. Brennan's blunt conversations about sex and private parts. ("You mean 'anus?'" "Why do you like that word so much?!") He acts as Brennan's interpreter to the outside world, as well as her censure when she starts to get too honest and frank, but despite her faults he takes care of her and is there when she needs a friend. And he gets all gushy around babies. What's not to like?

Fun fact: he's a co-producer with Emily Deschanel, and he's directed a few episodes. Brains and that body? Too good to be true.

3.) The Brennan/Booth dynamic. They are so much fun to watch; they compliment each other by being near complete opposites. Brennan is a scientist, detached and objective (usually), an atheist, with a know-it-all complex. Booth is gut and passion, a soldier, a man's man, and a Catholic. She challenges his machismo and gut intuitions, he reminds her to be human around other people. Their conversations are two classic arguments clashing: the rational, unemotional scientific reasoning and the status quo. They bicker and fight, but surprisingly, they tend to come to an understanding. A great example is during an investigation in a fetish hotel where guests participate in "pony play": individuals dress as horses or riders and pair up to have sex and play out the fantasy. Brennan challenges Booth's discomfort with the idea, saying that everyone plays a role and objectifies themselves to a certain degree when it comes to entertaining sexual partners, this is just how these particular people have chosen to express themselves. Booth explains that he doesn't understand why they go through all the effort of the charade for bad sex, it being bad sex because it isn't with people they have a strong emotional connection with, people they love, which is the best sex. Brennan accepts his reasoning, and they come to an understanding. This show is full of warm fuzzy moments!

There's a genuine affection, and not just between them, but between the entire team. Whether they're dating each other or not, they still care and protect one another. There are several damp eye moments, especially in "The Pain in the Heart" and "The Aliens in the Spaceship, and I get a wee bit giddy when Booth lovingly refers to the lab team as his "squints."

(From left to right: Back end of a cow, Cher, Wonder Woman, a squint, Catwoman, Captain of the Titanic)

4.) Feminism! With a capital "EFF." Brennan, nicknamed "Bones" because of her expertise in skeletons, is at the top of her field, a best-selling author, a black belt, a crack shot, and socially awkward. She's brilliant, and she kicks ass (occasionally, literally. It is really fun to watch someone attack her thinking she's a wet noodle and then getting their arm broken), but her faults lie in personal relationships and trying to navigate being an overly honest, critical scientist trying to stay objective and having feelings and emotional connections to her friends and family. There's a depth, and the character grows as the series goes along, learning how to be more of a visceral human than a "cold fish" scientist from her relationships with Booth and the forensic team.

And did I mention the two other ladies on the show are also great, strong female characters, as well as hotties?

Angela is a free spirit, loving and giving, but not against having sex in the storeroom or getting blackout drunk and married in Fiji. She's Brennan's best friend, the love of Hodgin's life, and the daughter of one of the bearded guys from ZZ Top.

Cam (Dr. Saroyan) is the politician, the head of the department, and after the initial clash of wills when she took over, Cam has proven to be tactful and supportive, as well as a brilliant cop and doctor. She's the boss, but she's also like a mom to the team, calling Dr. Addy "Zackaroni" because he eats mac and cheese every day for lunch, and rolling her eyes and sighing when Hodgins uses her personal blender to puree maggots to test for trace evidence. She loves her team and her work, which causes her personal life to suffer and complicates things with the daughter of a murdered ex she decides to take in (having no children of her own, and glad of it, jumping straight into parenting a teenager isn't a pretty sight), but all these faults and strengths make her, just as with the other female characters, well-rounded and personable. Did I mention she's really hot?

Ladies with stomachs of steel.

Oh man. I love this show. It's insanely addictive. Yes, I know, murders like these don't happen with the kind of frequency as the show portrays, but you know what? I don't give two craps, this show keeps me engaged and interested, and makes me laugh out loud at least once an episode. It's not even just the quirky, crazy murders, it's the character development, the story arcs, the banter, OH THE BANTER IT IS SO GOOD. Go forth, and rent from the Netflix. Enjoy.

Phalanges! Phalanges!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ladies, Ladies, Ladies

Warning: Gratuitous use of "vagina," "crotch," "cootch," "hoo-ha," "lady bits," "nether regions," "labia," "muff," and "muff button" to follow.

It has recently come to my attention that a certain form of plastic surgery has come into vogue with ladies of all ages; known professionally as "labiaplasty," the surgery involves the reduction of the labia minora and/or majora. While there is a genuine need for this surgery where the lady bits are so elongated as to cause discomfort or a health risk, there is a significant percentage of these surgeries which are done for purely cosmetic purposes. Because women didn't have enough to obsess and nitpick over and be insecure about, now we have to look at our hoo-ha's and wonder if they are freakish alien symbiotes attached to our crotches.

This whole post stems from a program I watched on BBC America called "The Perfect Vagina" where a journalist interviews doctors, patients, women who have considered getting the surgery, therapists, artists, and insensitive jackholes who should never be touched by women. It was interesting to watch and raised several questions in my own mind, as well as my feminist righteous indignation (video of the program can be found below). According to the program, "vaginal cosmetic surgery on the NHS has doubled in the UK over the past five years and in the private sector there has been a 300% increase in labiaplastys, making it the fastest growing form of cosmetic surgery in the UK."

Visit for free online documentaries!

But, as pointed out by writer Amy Clare (you should read this) for feminist UK blog, "The F-Word," the documentary failed to question the WHY women feel the need trim their cootch surgically to resemble a young girl's downstairs area.

The source is porn, obviously, where waxed nether regions and bleached naughty bits (and bottoms) are the norm. Women are substituted for right fists, never reaching orgasm themselves, but being slathered in semen because HIS orgasm is HER orgasm. A significant amount of porn is degrading, offensive, and one sided; I'm all for sexual liberation, but that isn't what this is. It's the patriarchal double standard moving from the bedroom to in front of the camera to satisfy a demand from a mostly male population.

My theory is that the movement from mostly natural-looking ladies of the seventies to the hairless skeletal bleached blondes with mangos for tits who look like they're fifteen is a warped and distorted reflection of the movement in mainstream media towards a sculpted, glossy, impossibly skinny, toned, and bronzed female standard of beauty that is almost always skimpily dressed in expensive designer clothes and jewelry. (That was a mouthful, my apologies!)

If you haven't been paying attention, you just have to look at fashion magazines and television; you can't find bathing suits that aren't bikinis unless you go to the "ladies over fifty" section of a clothing store, where the suits are of some of the worst and unflattering designs (clothing women over the age of fifty in huge, shapeless tents is another post entirely). Not to mention that bikinis are getting so skimpy that the function of them is very clearly to display "the goods," and that chick ain't gettin' nowhere near the water.

On TV, the lead female is never anything less than skinny, and if a female character is a little plumper or perhaps a little odd looking, she's the comic relief. We are so trained to view females on television by this standard that when someone does buck the status quo, even I, as good a lady feminist as I try to be, am taken aback, and I have to stop myself and readjust my thinking.

I may sound paranoid, but the emphasis on SEXY, rather than BEAUTIFUL is a trend that has been creeping up on us for some years now, and of course, women with their low self-esteem and desperate need to please are obsessed with becoming what they believe to be the standard of what is "beautiful," which is, in fact, the standard of "sexy." What a lot of women don't understand is that just because a guy thinks you're sexy and "do-able," DOESN'T MEAN THAT HE IS GOING TO LOVE YOU. The thought process that goes through a woman's mind is convoluted and utterly mistaken: "To get a man's love and affection, I have to get his attention. To get his attention, I have to be physically attractive. To be physically attractive, I have to adhere to this unattainable and horribly uncomfortable and expensive and superficial standard of what I've been told is attractive, and wear as few clothes as possible while I'm doing it."

To get back to the original point, because women think that every gotdanged bit of them has to be physically attractive in order to make dudes want to be with them, they're chopping off bits of themselves (bits that guys really shouldn't be looking at for long periods of time anyway, those bits are for using, not looking).

It is especially perplexing considering how absolutely bizarre and ridiculous a dude's member looks, flacid or erect. If they get to have a protrusion that varies in size, shape, color, and direction of the bend, why are women driving themselves nuts over a few folds of skin that are almost never out in public?

I'm not sure I have an answer; females today are more open about their sexuality, especially with other females, so the subject of what their vaginas look like wouldn't seem like it's that taboo, but perhaps it is? We can compare boobs 'till the cows come home, but because those nether regions do gross and gooey stuff, we still don't feel comfortable discussing them.

I think, at the very least, women need to understand that:

1.) Vaginas are always going to look a little weird. They're in a crushed and crumpled area of moist darkness, and they are primarily FUNCTION not FORM. So you need to get used to the idea that those porn stars? That's not reality, that's a lot of unhealthy crotch tampering that isn't natural. And really, when you think about it, why do you want your guy having sex with a fifteen year old's vagina? THAT'S GROSS AND WEIRD.

2.) Most dudes aren't going to give two craps what your junk looks like as long as they get to put their willy in it. If a guy does, then guess what? He's an insensitive asshole who doesn't operate in reality, and you'll save yourself a lot of trouble down the road if you kick him in the balls and toss his shit into the street.

3.) Respect that va-jay-jay. That thing is freaking amazing, the things it can do. All those kickass sensations that make you go, "oooh," a complex ecosystem of pH levels to facilitate the birth of the best offspring possible, constricting, expanding, have you ever seen a baby being born? IT IS A HERCULEAN FEAT. I know we get ticked off at it because it might smell funny after a few days of not showering, and it bleeds sometimes, but you know what? We have soft poofs of hair, while dudes have an elephant trunk sagging off their front and they often sit on their balls. I think we can call that a win, don't you?

Jamie McCartney's "Great Wall of Vagina"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

And now, for something completely different....

He's awesome, but he needs a proper haircut.

I wish I could art that hard for that long.

Still trying to muster the strength to review the third Twilight book, but am hindered by the insatiable need to do nothing.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Moon

So, if you haven't completely disowned me, and are curious to hear further reports from enemy territory, I have collected my thoughts on Stephenie Meyer's second novel in the Twilight series, New Moon.

As the intensely intense love story of Edward and Bella continues, certain patterns start to emerge that on the surface seem innocuous, but the more I think about them, the more I'm sort of disturbed by how this coupling is portrayed.

At the beginning of the book, the Cullens throw a birthday bash for 18 year old Bella, who has suddenly become obsessed with aging the way I did when I turned 25 and realized a quarter of my life had gone by without me noticing. However, in my experience, most 18 year olds aren't so aware of their aging since they've only just gotten their license, the right to vote, and can buy cigarettes, but not alcohol, and they have all that lovely disposable income from not paying bills or mortgages or buying their own food. But Bella is super cranky about turning 18 because perfect Edward is forever 17, and God help us should she age a few years and look slightly older than Ed for the rest of their love story. Because women aren't obsessed with aging as it is, and now we have a weird fantasy metaphor reiterating how men aging is more accepted and lauded than women ('cause we all get saggy and crusty with liver spots all over everything, WE ARE REALLY JUST ALL HIDEOUS CRONES-IN-TRAINING). So Bella's neurotic anxiety attacks about aging is more than a little irritating.

ANYWHOO, so she's grumpy about getting old, and is one of those people who hates people celebrating their birthday (and those people piss me off, chill out, it's just a great excuse to get our party on, DON'T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM US, PARTY POOPER), but she begrudgingly allows the Cullens to throw a little get-together, and she cuts herself on the wrapping paper of a gift (Seriously? The wrapping paper?) and the scent of the blood sends the younger vampires into a tizzy, and perfect Edward's solution to get Bella out of harm's way is to throw her into a mirror on the other side of the room, sending a shower of broken glass and splintered furniture all over her fragile person. CONGRATS ED, YOU JUST WON THE BRILLIANT STRATEGY AWARD OF THE DAY. At any rate, the party is ruined and Ed uses this little mishap as an excuse to run from this relationship. Just like a guy to think up any excuse to avoid commitment.

At this point, I had a few questions. Granted, vampires have a super keen sense of smell as predators, and Meyer established the feeding frenzy mentality when they get their chompers into you, but how does one "blend in with society" if a PAPERCUT causes them to go berserk and launch themselves towards the potential food source, fangs bared and eyes rolled back in their heads like great white sharks? Walking around a high school, or just through this mountain town (which is probably a logger mecha), how does one avoid every person with a scratch or cut? You can't. This plot device is dumb.

Furthermore, as a matured female that produces eggs and goes through the life cycle, how does our darling Bella handle being without Eddie for five days while she rides the crimson wave? I don't care what kind of contraptions you use during that time of the month, if you aren't supposed to be near a lion while menstruating, you sure as hell shouldn't be within fifty miles of a vampire.

Speaking of being without Eddie, you may or may not know that this is the novel where Edward wrenches himself from Bella's cloying grasp, taking his whole family with him, Bella's only other support system. According to him, it's to "protect" Bella, to keep her safe from any more incidents like her birthday party, because she is just a fragile, breakable human, and he refuses to turn her into a vampire for his own internally righteous reasons.

"Sorry babe, gotta go, you've got a few too many crow's feet for my liking."

It's titled New Moon to describe the darkest period of Bella's life, life without Edward. Prior to his well-timed departure, Bella insists that Edward spend every evening next to her while she sleeps. One could read a lot into this, and I'm more than a little uncomfortable with her physical dependency on him, not dissimilar to a drug habit, and the way he cradles her like a child ALL THE TIME. This point is really driven home in a scene (though I can't remember which book this takes places in) where she's mad at him for all of fifteen seconds, then backs down and leaves the window open, inviting him into her bed. I hate that she had every reason to be pissed at him, but there is nothing she can do to punish him for being stupid like you do with normal dudes, both because she doesn't have much to threaten him with and because she can't hold her ground against him for any significant length of time. Who taught her how to be a woman? When your dude is being a pain in the ass, you stay mad at him for a few days, not telling him why you're pissed, until he figures it out for himself and apologizes proper-like. She is full of fail. It really illustrates one of the more disturbing aspects of their relationship, the one where it trips down the very fine line between THE MOST INTENSE LOVE EVER and AN UNHEALTHY DRUG ADDICTION.

So you can imagine the kind of withdrawal she goes through when Edward takes off.

Now, if you see the movie, you will probably hate Bella with all your soul for being so psycho about Ed leaving. The revolving shot with Bella staring out the window as the seasons change is especially ridiculous. The book is a bit more subtle, and though she goes through catatonic depression for two weeks, Bella makes an effort to maintain the illusion of normalcy so Charlie doesn't worry too much about her. She doesn't do it very well, but give her a sticker for trying. However, the screaming nightmares (and I'm talking about the kinds that shake the windows) are pulled directly out of the book. I maintain that sympathies should lie with Charlie, not Bella, especially since the nightmare isn't particularly scary, AT ALL. The whole situation is overdone, yet nauseatingly familiar, since I once was a teenage girl. I suppose Meyer's point is that Bella doesn't get over Edward's absence like any normal girl because he is her one true love (gag). Personally, I don't believe in one true love; which is why I suppose I find the whole thing a tad ridiculous. Especially since Meyer brings Jacob Black into the mix, the poor, puppy-love ridden hot Indian, someone with whom Bella finds comfort and distraction from her broken heart.

Who's the saddest not-a-werewolf?

When you get dumped and you are naturally super sad about it, and outside of enough time to forget how bad it hurt, the best remedy is a new love interest. And precocious, adorably shirtless Jacob fits the bill to a "T." But you know what Bella does? She breaks out the old, "I love you, but I'm not IN love with you." Because she's still hung up on Edward, Mr. I Know What's Best For You, Always. GAHHHHHH. The second Edward is back in the picture, she breaks that hot Indian's heart after using him like a sexy elixir to make herself feel better. She even tells Jacob that given the choice, she will ALWAYS choose Edward over him.


So, Edward abandons Bella for her own safety, which in fact puts her directly in danger, from both herself, getting into dangerous situations so she can have all those indignant arguments with phantom Edward that she'd never have with the real thing, and vengeful psycho vampire Victoria, who has decided to hit Edward where it hurts for killing her mate James in the first book by torturing and murdering HIS mate, i.e. Bella. Again, Edward, first place trophy for you. Thankfully, the hot and totally ripped not-a-werewolf Indians are on top of things during the Cullens' absence.

Energetic after-school program or sexy not-a-werewolf cult?

Now, we come to an interesting crossroads. Edward and Jacob are polar opposites, cold and hot, calmly composed and heatedly passionate, icy white and warm mocha brown. Edward is, allegedly, completely selfless, putting Bella's safety and well-being above his own happiness. Jacob, though sweet and loyal, has no compunction about throwing a hissy fit and laying down the guilt trip, even lying to manipulate Bella into getting his way. But realistically, Jacob offers the better choice: One doesn't have to abandon their entire family to protect their now-undead life status or watch friends and loved ones die as they live forever. You would be free to live life in near normalcy, compared to the lengths vampires have to take to keep themselves hidden.

BUT. Both are overprotective of Bella and are convinced that they know what's best for her. Both tread through the dangerous territory of romanticized domestic abusers:
Edward is a little more controlling than your average insecure dude. He makes major decisions without asking for Bella's input, he keeps tabs on her movements and who she spends her time with, he tries to tell her who she can and can't hang out with, he thinks he knows what's best for her, and to be with him she has to give up contact with her family.
Jacob is an emotional manipulator, he could lose his temper and maul someone at any time, he will lie to get what he wants, and he doesn't feel bad about hurting people he doesn't like.
Meyer tries to justify their behavior through their supernatural status and the fact that Bella is pretty much under constant threat of death and dismemberment, but because she sets up both males as the ideal for masculinity, these aspects of their personalities are a bit disturbing. This may be something you need to read for yourself and see what you think.

So at the end of New Moon, Bella saves Edward's life and she immediately forgives him for all the bullshit he's put her through because he's so wracked with guilt and despair without her that he was going to commit suicide. HOW SWEET. And yes, the Romeo and Juliet allusions are there, and guess what? Romeo and Juliet were morons. They made SEVERAL bad decisions. Guess who else keeps making bad decisions?

On the positive, this book isn't all that bad, and we get to see some intense Indians do some damage. But the ride ain't over. And neither is the crazy drama. Not only is Victoria still out there, circling her prey, but now the vampire police (Volturi) are on the Cullens' asses about having a human gal pal. Whoo! Who's got some conflict all up ins?