mike. magic mike.

"Channing All Over Your Tatum" is when I first gained respect for Channing Tatum, because he thinks the fawning over him is hilarious, but he also basks in it at the same time.

“Channing All Over Your Tatum” is when I first gained respect for Channing Tatum, because he thinks the fawning over him is hilarious, but he also basks in it at the same time.

I saw Magic Mike: XXL yesterday, which means I’m only catching on to pop culture things a month late instead of years. I’m growing! Or I’m just funemployed and have time to do things like go to the movies.

I’ve never seen the first movie, which I know is a huge problem because sequels such as these are incredibly complex and require much background knowledge the way sequel books in YA trilogies do. So I suffered greatly, but I made it through.

I have absolutely no problem looking at attractive men, and I greatly appreciated that they were all different colors, they were none of them unintelligent, and at least some of them were legitimately talented actual dancers, so mad props. I did not realize, having never been to any sort of strip club, that so much of male stripping would just be thrusting. I mean, I guess pole dancing is incredibly phallic, so I shouldn’t have been surprised, but female strippers don’t, as far as I know, actually stick their crotches in men’s faces while dancing. They only have fake sex with fake phalluses, which is safer for them, I’m sure, and also preserves the distinction we like to have that stripping is not prostitution. These male strippers had fake sex with real women’s faces and crotches.

The joke is that movies like Magic Mike allow women to turn the tables on objectification and do so with men’s bodies. That’s true in that I don’t believe there was a heterosexual woman in that theater who did not enjoy the washboard abs frequently displayed, especially since there was every type of male aesthetic represented. Continue reading

race, clones, and disguises

As usual, I have finally gotten to that bit of pop culture that everyone else got to ages ago and is probably totally over. This time, it’s Orphan Black. I watched the entire first season in about three days because it’s absolutely captivating and addictive, and the damn good writers end every episode with a true cliffhanger.

Discussions of great acting and cool storytelling aside, there are two things about the show that have especially made me think.

One is race and the zeitgeist of white tears, white feelings, and whites being all, “I’m not racist; I have a Mexican friend.” The other is race and stories more broadly.

First: Allison. Nothing made me more excited than when they revealed her kids to be black, or mixed black and something*. Then they showed her husband, Donnie, and I was like, hmmm. I didn’t know whether to be sad that she didn’t have a black husband or excited that adoption was such a non-issue that all they needed to do was show her kids and then once have her ask offhand if Sarah’s daughter was adopted, too. I was a little like, “omg because adoption is THAT normal? Awesome!” and then it turned out that it’s because clones are supposed to be sterile. But still. It’s never been brought up again, because it’s more important that Allison is a soccer mom harboring a serious substance abuse addiction but who loves her kids because they’re her kids, period.

Then you get the episode where Victor accosts her, thinking she’s Sarah. So Allison calls Sarah and tries to describe whom she just encountered. Continue reading

i’m black and i don’t even know about black history

How much do you want to bet that you don't know shit about this woman?

How much do you want to bet that you don’t know shit about this woman?

A month or two ago I went to a panel discussion with a friend on activism and social justice, mostly related to race and issues like this weird tradition we have in America of killing young black men for no reason. At one point, a panelist made an offhand comment about how, you know, “Harriet Tubman would go to a new plantation, be like, ‘hello, massa, I’m the old washerwoman from blah blah plantation,’ and then go and rally the slaves to escape.”

Hold the phone. WTF?

I, like probably every other black Millennial (and just Millennial) in the United States, grew up learning that there were only ever three black people of consequence in the world, and their names were Martin, Rosa, and Harriet. And even with that, that one comment made me realize I never knew anything real about Harriet Tubman. It’s not just that black history is a single story in American education. It’s that it’s a really fucking slim story. How did I get through a quarter-century and a bit more not ever learning that Black Moses didn’t use magic like Torah Moses, she was a SECRET AGENT. I even went to my bookshelf and grabbed this book, given to me by my second grade teacher with the strict instruction to tell the other kids that it was a book that came in late from a book order if anyone asked why she was giving me things, and it didn’t say anything except your general magical Underground Railroad.

My world has been broken. I know even less nothing than I thought. (Even more nothing? Integers are weird.) Continue reading