Pick-Me-Up: Hello, Tailor Discusses Pepper Potts

WARNING: this site is addictive if you care at all about costuming.

Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts – ass-kicking girly girl who isn’t afraid to work hard, look good, or work hard at looking good.

Hello, Tailor is my newest obsession, thanks in large part to this post on Pepper Potts and why she is a great female character that is also an underrepresented type: that of the non-bitchy, intelligent, highly motivated girly-girl. Pepper (like Gwyneth) likes looking pretty and clearly puts effort into it. This article goes into all of the reasons why her character design is AMAZING, and how her costuming does a lot to enhance her character traits.

If you have any interest at all in costuming and the way that clothes shape our perceptions of people, I highly recommend checking the blog out. Nothing too technical or fussy, just an interesting take at a side of the movies that most people don’t actively think about.

Kate now has an overwhelming urge to go get her sewing machine fixed.


What Makes a Strong Female Character: A Basic Guide

Recently Kate and Charlotte were talking about how easy it is to focus on the negative, when there are some awesomely feminist things going on in the realm of young adult literature. So we spent a lot of time going over the relative strengths of female protagonists in young adult literature (YA for short). After several conversations, we decided it would be helpful to have a written guideline of strengths to judge characters against. We think that the list that follows is a good general template for judging. When making this list, we were aiming for broad categories – it’s not a helpful criterion if it is so specific that it describes only one or two people.

Please note, we do not expect (or want) a character to have all of these traits. That would make for boring books. However, we do expect a strong female character to possess three or more of these traits. We are also completely aware that there may well be strong female characters that don’t fit ANY of these categories. If you can think of any, please tell us who they are and why they are great! We are happy to be wrong (and to make new categories).

Divergent's heroine Tris getting ready to make a literal and metaphorical leap into the unknown

Divergent’s heroine Tris getting ready to make a literal and metaphorical leap into the unknown.

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Five ‘L’s: Why We Use ‘Llllladies’

When discussing female human beings in the English language, one has several options. There are the standard terms: women, girls, ladies, young ladies. Then slang: chicks, birds, bitches, and some unsavory terms that don’t bear listing. And of course poetic phrasing like “the fairer sex.” I’m sure you could come up with many more.

For the purposes of this blog we needed an ‘official’ term–something that would include both women and girls without being offensive. Continue reading

The Great Gatsby: The Short Review

So I fell into a bit of a rabbit hole with The Great Gatsby.  I hadn’t intended to do anything with the film at all besides enjoy what I was sure would be a messy and gorgeous movie with some friends and some smuggled beverages.  (Lesson learned: champagne cocktails do not travel well.)

Credit: Warner Bros

I had not read the book since it was assigned in high school, so I wandered into the film roughly familiar with the plot, not expecting a lot, and a little tipsy.

The first time I saw this film, I was overwhelmed.  I’ll get to why in a little bit, but I ended up reading the book again for the first time in 10 years and seeing the film a second time decidedly sober.  I’m posting a much more detailed review on here in the next day or two, but not everybody has time for that sort of thing, so here’s the overview.

(Mild spoilers here.  Major spoilers in the full review.)

Love him or hate him, Baz Luhrman has a style that he does incredibly well, and that style works beautifully with the look and feel of The Great Gatsby. Continue reading

Much Ado About Virtue

One Hero died defiled, but I do live,
And surely as I live, I am a maid.

Much Ado About Nothing, Act V, Scene IV

Hero's disgrace

Hero’s disgrace

I had a chance to see a screening of Joss Whedon’s film, Much Ado About Nothing last week. As we have established here on Sassafrakas, I’m a big fan of Shakespeare. The language, the stories, the themes… they speak to me.  As some of you know (but we have not discussed here on the blog) I am also a big fan of Joss Whedon. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the first TV shows that I decided to watch on my own as a teenager, and in its own way, it stuck with me. I’ve stuck with Joss Whedon throughout his career. This film for me is the perfect storm of things that I’m into.

You know the drill about this movie, right? Its been buzzing all over the internet for months, but if you don’t know (hi, Mom!) here are the basics. Director and producer Joss Whedon shot it in 12 days in his own California home, with a collection of actors plucked mostly from other productions of his over the years.  It’s filmed in black and white and set basically in the present (although the fashion is decidedly non trendy, and that throws the viewer’s ability to place it). It has guns instead of swords and very, very, little technology.

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How Soap Operas are Changing the World, and Why That’s Great

I will not pretend to be a fan of soap operas, but this headline got my attention immediately:

The secret to bringing down India’s birth rate: get more women to watch soap operas

It turns out that there’s a significant level of correlation between which regions of India have access to cable television and which regions are experiencing lower total fertility rates.  The study on which the article is based goes into further detail of the positive social change in its abstract:

Using a three-year, individual-level panel dataset, we find that the introduction of cable television is associated with significant decreases in the reported acceptability of domestic violence towards women and son preference, as well as increases in women’s autonomy and decreases in fertility. We also find suggestive evidence that exposure to cable increases school enrollment for younger children, perhaps through increased participation of women in household decision-making.

Apparently, similar findings were uncovered when tracking fertility rates in relation to cable-viewing in Brazil.   Continue reading

For Fathers and All Men Who Raise and Guide Children

Father’s Day, like many holidays, is wonderful for some people and very difficult and often painful for others. Sure, we all have biological fathers, but many of us have never known our fathers or not been given the guidance and affection we deserve from them. Some of us were guided through adolescence by other male figures in our lives–grandfathers, uncles, friends, teachers, etc. Some of us have had the role of both parents filled by women. Many of us have lost our father figures. It sometimes seems that fewer of us have been raised and nurtured by men who are everything we could ask for in a parent than those who have not.

A father figure is often the first example of what a man is (and there are so many different kinds of men in this world) for a child. It takes a tremendous amount of strength to guide another human being in navigating the complex and often fraught path to adulthood.

So I’d like to share this TED Talk by Colin Stokes, wherein he discusses the role of a father in raising children in relation to the kind of media aimed at them. He stresses not only the importance of raising girls to be strong, but also raising boys to respect and honor them, which is a crucial point we often forget.

To all of the wonderful men who have given of themselves in order to raise strong, independent, confident girls, and boys who respect them, we express our sincerest gratitude.

-Maddo needs to go call her father now.