Tag Archives: LGBTQ community

Thoughts on the 25th Anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

You never forget the first female TV character that inspires you to become a badass.

March 10th was the 25th anniversary of the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It was more than your standard coming-of-age high school drama. The supernatural elements were an allegory for the messy and very complicated experience of being a teenager. Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has more to deal with than grades, boys, and friends. She is the Chosen One, the Slayer who has to save the world from all manners of evil that only exists in the very darkest of imaginations.

Writer and showrunner Joss Whedon (whose reputation has recently tanked due to his inability to act like a mature adult), took the allegory of growing up, added a few literal monsters, and in doing so, made the audience feel seen and understood. We related to Buffy and her friends because they were just like us. The fact that she could kick butt and had to save the world was just the cherry on top.

What made the show appealing was more than its title character. The other people who populated this world added additional flavors and colors. Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) was initially introduced as an unsure young woman trying to find her place in the world. By the time series ended, Willow had come out, both as a gay woman and a witch, lost the woman she loved, and grieved in a way that was representative of how powerful that loss was. Angel (David Boreanaz), was both Buffy’s antagonist as a vampire and her first love. After they slept together for the first time, he turned into Angelus, a villain of the first order. The analogy of sleeping with someone who then becomes someone unrecognizable was all too clear. Buffy’s mother, Joyce Summers (Kristine Sutherland) tries to understand what her daughter is going through. Like any good parent, she is doing the best she can. But that does not mean that she is fully comprehending who Buffy has become.

The reason why BVTS has lasted a quarter of a century and continues to appeal to young people is its ordinariness. Underneath the supernatural nature of the series was the everyday experience of becoming an adult and the pitfalls of that experience.

Happy Birthday, Buffy. Here’s to another 25 years.

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Throwback Thursday: Nate & Jeremiah by Design (2017-Present)

The balance between our work lives and our personal lives is, well, a balancing act. Sometimes, priorities have been shifted around to be productive.

Nate and Jeremiah by Design have been part of the TLC lineup since 2017. Designers Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent are life partners and business partners. While raising their children and maintaining their marriage, their job is to help homeowners whose home renovation projects did not go as planned.

I respect the fact that we get a glimpse into their private lives. I also appreciate the representation of the LGBTQ community that is still sadly lacking on television. However, the narrative is rote as the genre goes. After a certain point, I have to change the channel. I can only take so much before I get bored.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence Book Review

In 1991, when Anita Hill testified that that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her, it was nothing short of earth shattering. Instead of letting the shame destroy her or pretend that it never happened, she took her case to Congress. This brave choice opened the door for victims of similar acts to get justice and ensure that the perpetrators got what they deserved.

Dr. Hill’s new book, Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence, was published in September. Building on her very personal history of experiencing gender violence, she explores such subjects such as bullying, rape, the constant threat to the LGBTQ community, and the mind blowing comparison to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. In speaking openly about such topics that are often buried under the rug or not taken seriously, she is challenging the reader to speak up, speak out, and ensure that these injustices are finally given the spotlight they should have received a long time ago.

This book is nothing short of mind blowing. If there was ever a fire lit under our collective behinds, this book is the match. Thirty years ago, Dr. Hill opened the door, broke barriers, and inspired multiple generations of activists to stand on her impressive shoulders. She got the ball rolling, it is now up to us to finish the job.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Thoughts on The Jagged Little Pill Controversy

Art has a way of changing the world as few things can. But that does not mean that the final product is approved of by everyone in the audience.

When the musical Jagged Little Pill (based on the Alanis Morissette album of the same name) hit Broadway opened at the end of 2019, it was met with rave reviews. The story of the Healy family and their struggles spoke to the shit we all go through everyday. With the show re-opening at the end of the month, there has been some issues with the character of Jo, played by Lauren Patten.

If what has been said is true, Jo was supposed to be non binary, but was written as a lesbian. In the statement released by the producers, they will be reworking the role to reflect the criticism.

One of the topics that has come up with this controversy is representation. I completely agree that representation these days is super important. Though there has been a vast improvement in both the image and numbers of non cis-gender heterosexual Caucasian men in the media, the truth is that we have a long way to go in truly reflecting the audience.

Speaking as a writer, one of the aspects of this conversation that is missing is how Jo evolved from the first draft until the premiere. In the process of writing, both characters and narrative change over the course of the creation of the work. What also may have happened is tryouts and previews, she was tweaked by both the actor, the writer(s), and the director until everyone was satisfied with the final product.

I have two concerns with everything that is whirling around Jagged Little Pill. The first concern is that it will ultimately force the show to close. When a scandal erupts over an IP, one of two things happen. The first is that it arouses interest and brings in audiences who otherwise would have passed it by. The second is that the scandal become so overconsuming that the executive team has no choice but to call it quits.

The second concern is that producers will look the scandal and if they see a script that is similar to JLP, it will go into the “no pile”. Not because of the quality of the work, but because of the possibility of negative press.

Only time will tell if JLP survives or closes. My hope and my prayer is that it survives because it proves that there is room for creativity and new concepts on Broadway.

P.S. Lauren won the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical last weekend. It is an honor that is well deserved.

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The Eyes of Tammy Faye Review

Those of us above a certain age remember the late Tammy Faye Bakker for her boundless enthusiasm, her makeup that some might call excessive and how she was portrayed in the press. When she and first husband, Jim Bakker made the news in the 1980’s for the financial scandal surrounding their television ministry, there was no escaping the headlines.

The new movie, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, takes the audience behind the flash and the noise to reveal the real woman. Stepping into the shoes of Tammy Faye and Jim are Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield. The film follows Bakker from her early years, where she is an outcast due to her parents divorce to the high of being the face of televangelism for a generation, and finally when she became a late night punchline that revolved around the fiscal mismanagement of the Bakker’s Christian ministry empire.

First of all, kudos to the makeup and hair department. They were able to recreate Tammy Faye’s iconic look without making it look like Chastain was wearing a Halloween mask. What I liked about the film is that the woman on the screen is much more than was in the news back in the day. She has a big heart, genuinely believes in her mission (and her husband), and unlike others in her world, is willing to embrace members of LGBTQ community.

A nice counterpoint to Tammy Faye is her mother, Rachel, played by Cherry Jones. Rachel is down to earth and practical. She does not exactly want to burst her daughter’s bubble, but wants to bring Tammy Faye back to reality. What I did not realize is that in her own way, Bakker was a feminist. She was not the typical wife of religious leader who quietly stays in her lane. Tammy Faye was an equal partner in sharing their message with viewers and fans. My only complaint is that towards the end of the film, a few minutes could have been cut from the final presentation.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is presently in theaters.

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Clueless Character Review: Christian Stovitz

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Love sometimes makes us believe what we want to believe, regardless of how far from the truth it is. It is up to us to decide if we are devastated from the truth, or accept it and move on.

In Clueless, Christian Stovitz (Justin Walker) enters the scene, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) is intrigued. Due to his parent’s divorce, Christian spends one half the year with one parent and the other half of the year with another parent. She immediately sets her romantic sights on him, but her attempts to claim him for herself ultimately fail. Like his literary predecessor, Frank Churchill, he is elusive, but in a different manner.

When her friends tell her that Christian is gay, Cher does not believe it. When they hang out at her house, he prefers to watch a movie than sleep with her. He is oblivious to her unsuccessful attempts to seduce him. Ultimately, they remain friends due to her appreciation of his love of art and fashion.

To sum it up: Not every love interest is going to walk into the sunset with the main character. Sometimes they are better off as friends. opening the door to not only growth for both characters, but for each to find a partner that can make them happy. Christian stands out because his relationship with Cher leads to her ending up with her step-brother, Josh Lucas (Paul Rudd).

P.S. Back in the 1990’s, the idea of members of the LGBTQ community being visible and open with the world was only beginning to find acceptance. Though Christian is just one character, his mere presence in this film is a significant one in the long and hard march towards equality.

This will be the last character post for Clueless. Come back next week to find out the next group of characters I will be reviewing.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Emma, Feminism, Jane Austen

History of the Sitcom Review

The beautiful thing about art is that it is never static. It adapts to both time and culture, giving creators the ability to match what is going on in the wider world.

The new eight part mini-series CNN miniseries, History of the Sitcom, premiered on Sunday night. Each episode focuses on how the sitcom evolved over time and reflects on how it explores the different aspects of our lives from family to work to school, etc. Interviewing actors, writers, and producers, it delves into how this genre has shaped American culture.

I really enjoyed the first two episodes. The first one focused on the evolution of the family sitcom and how it has evolved from the white, suburban Father Knows Best and The Donna Reed Show programs that populated the television schedule of the 1950’s. The second one talked about how sex, sexuality, the LGBTQ community, and the different variations of gender have been seen by audiences.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

History of the Sitcom airs on Sunday night at 9PM on CNN.

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Antigone Rising: The Subversive Power of the Ancient Myths Book Review

Myths from the ancient world are not just stories of the past. There is a universality and a humanity that still speaks to us today.

Antigone Rising: The Subversive Power of the Ancient Myths, by Helen Morales, was published last year. Using the myth of Antigone, (told to us by the play of the same name by Sophocles), she outlines how the myths from ancient Greece and Rome reflect feminist issues that were are prevalent then as they are now. Though they may seem innocent on the surface, a deeper dive reveals how these characters were to take a stand against injustice.

I loved this book. Ms. Morales is able to break down the specific elements of these tales to show us that things haven’t changed. The sexist bull shit that girls and women deal with today existed thousands of years ago. If there was one section that caught my eye, it was the chapter on the LGBTQ experience in that time period. It can be broken down by one sentence “same shit, different century”.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2021

Change is never easy. Especially when the change is overcoming and dealing with cultural, racial, and religious stereotypes.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Dr. King was one of many who fought for equality. Though his ultimate goal was equality for African-Americans, it spread to the rest of the country. Women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and other Americans of color who have been disenfranchised heard his message and understood exactly what he was saying.

Though we can proudly say that we have made progress in the multiple decades since he was taken from us, it is more than clear that true equality is still too far off for many. I remember a cartoon in a book when I was in school. The image was of a tree had been cut at its base, but the roots were untouched. The analogy about racism and prejudice was obvious.

The fact is that we have a long way to do. Between the riot in DC almost two weeks ago and the murders of multiple African Americans last year, the dark side of the United States revealed itself in a way that was opening.

What Dr. King started almost a century ago, we have to finish. It is the only way to make his dream a reality.

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World on Fire Character Review: Albert Fallou

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. It would be nice to live in a world in which whom one loves is just another aspect of who they are. But the reality is we are judged based on our sexuality and based on that judgment, assigned a value. On World on Fire, Albert Fallou (Parker Sawyers) is a Frenchman whose family is originally from West Africa. He is also gay and in love with American doctor Webster O’Connor (Brian J. Smith).

Before the Nazis invade, Albert just lives his life as anyone does. But things quickly change under German rule. Targeted for his West African heritage, the Nuremberg Laws state that Albert is a second class citizen. Fearing for his and Webster’s lives, Albert asks Webster to smuggle him out of France. He knows that while his partner may be able to fly under the radar for a short time, Webster’s sexuality could be revealed at any time.

To sum it up: It takes courage to be yourself in a world that at best denies your rights and at worst, wants you dead. But, it also takes courage to know when it is better to leave your home and stay alive rather than stay where you are and risk being killed. Albert is aware of the world he now lives in and the tough choices that must be made in order to survive.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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