Precious is under fire again, this time from Ishamel Reed in the NYTimes Op-Ed pages (in a fit of rather odd timing), for portraying a negative image of black communities meant more for condescending white audiences than black consumption. As I noted earlier, I disagree with this critique, and find the idea that somehow telling emotionally wrenching black stories is a betrayal of the black community strange.If anything, the fault lies with the media, who has to some extent tried to turn the story into a "universal tale" of black suffering (and milk a Cinderella story out of the decidedly just-fine-before-and-after-thank-you-very-much Gabourey Sidibe). The film has no such pretensions, and to me should be seen as a story of one woman's extraordinary tale of hope, self-discovery, and love through literacy. It was also a chilling portrayal of the toll of abuse, but refreshingly realistic in that Sapphire's tale allows barely an ounce of self-pity to slip through amid Precious's wisecracking. Owen Gleiberman at EW has come fiercely to the film's defense, noting among other things that Reed's assertion that the film was only seen and enjoyed by white audiences is demonstrably false. In the book Push, Precious reads another piece of literature that was derided for putting out negative images of black life, The Color Purple. But what she sees in Celie is not a stereotype, and not a victim to be pitied. Rather, she sees a strong woman like herself who can endure horrific pain, and yet find some beauty and love in the world despite it all.
Riese at Autostraddle argues that the Taylor Swift persona is anti-feminist, and that her best album win was ludicrous (via Jezebel). She points out that Lady Gaga, who is only three years older than Swift, somehow seems from another generation entirely, and could chew up and spit out the pop princess before breakfast ("Punks don’t win awards, they eat awards"). My favorite part:
Listen up; if I ever get my life together enough to reproduce other life forms, they will not be joining Taylor Nation – they will be brave, creative, inventive, envelope-pushing little monsters who will find a pretty, skinny blonde girl in a white peasant shirt strolling through nature-themed screensaver-esque fantasylands singing about how “when you’re fifteen and somebody tells you they love you, you’re gonna believe them” not only sappy, but also insulting to their inevitable brilliance.
I don’t want my unborn grandchildren to listen to the story of how Taylor Swift won a Grammy she hadn’t earned. I want them to set pianos on fire.
I'm not a Swift hater, but this article does pin down neatly why I'd rather Beyonce "This car I'm driving, I bought it" Knowles or Lady "I want your leather-studded kiss" Gaga had won instead.
In less serious (but more scandalous) news, the Daily Mail has got to be the trashiest newspaper of all time, and for that I love them. They've got major dish on conservative intellectual Niall Ferguson's messy affair and impending divorce. He's publically dating Hirsi Ali, a Somalian refugee and former Dutch parliament member, who fears for her life after writing Submission (image left), a film critical of Islam (the film's director was assassinated). There are many choice bits: "In all the years I have known Ayaan, she’s never had a boyfriend. She’s gorgeous, but with a fatwa, it’s tricky to find guys," says a friend of Ali. Moreover, the Mail finds it fit to seal the relationship's officiality by noting that Henry Kissinger (a Ferguson friend) knows about it. Apparently once you take your misstress to Henry Kissinger's house, you're serious.
[Hat tips Larry, Big Picture]