Sunday, August 25, 2013


An ex brother-in-law, a person who thought himself a real grown man, was my sister's husband when this word was born. We were sitting on the couch at a family dinner, and he was blathering about how his family meant everything in the world to him. How he only lives to take care of his wife and his baby girl, how he does without to provide for them. I was squirming mightily, too polite to guffaw. He continued building his own virtual statue in the town square until I did laugh out loud. What? he asked. What you just said, I laughed. He said that's ebonics. He thought I meant the phrase he used. I laughed harder. I know what ebonics is, I said. That was guybonics. This ex-brother-in-law is someone I will happily slap, should I have the misfortune to run into him, for the pain he's caused women I love. But he sure was the creator of some of my best words. Guybonics is mansplaining plus total detachment from any self-awareness, coupled to the belief that women are dumb as stumps. Guybonics is taking the facts, flipping those 180, and calling your bluff to your face. Guybonics is swearing you do without to provide for your baby girl while wearing a $2,000 Hugo Boss suit and some $1,200 skin shoes, and that baby girl is in an outfit her mother bought her. Saying I'm sorry if I hurt you, right after you just told him he did hurt you, is guybonics. Oh, well, I don't know when you explained something from certain knowledge, is guybonics. Saying this is not what it looks like when you discover him naked in the sack with someone not you. Guybonics. Every woman can add to the definition: we know it when we hear it. And it takes the sting away a little to know what the language is. One of an ex's favorite lines is from a chockablock doofus movie D. C. Cab. Some guy asks "what are women so pissed off about? They're got half the money and all the p***y." That is guybonics. That is also why the ex is an ex. He spoke guybonics fluently.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Like Me Fund Me

Talking with a filmmaker friend yesterday, we were enjoying the prospect of a new Alice Guy Blache documentary being produced. Be Natural: the Untold Story of Alice Guy Blache. Actually, it has been told, more than once; and brilliantly by Alison McMahan, but Madame Blache is not in the zeitgeist yet. There are players attached to the project - Robert Redford, ExP, Jodie Foster, narrator. And the researchers highlighted are topnotch. Well done backgrounding by PIC Agency codirectors. The film is a Kickstarter project. I'm an old bird-the crowdsourcing stuff was outside my range of vision. So, I educate myself a little more. The creators want $200,000 from you and me to complete the documentary. Robert Redford is Sundance, yes? Why do they need our money? Looking into project crowdsourcing this morning, I found this article from indiewire on the relative success (as can best be determined by squishy data) of indiegogo, Kickstarter, and newbie Seed & Spark. The big loot in filmmaking is focused on franchise film, overseas sales, and a dumb audience. Please no documentaries, dialogue, story or character. These stories are being left to us, the audience with little money, but a need to feed our brains and hearts. Will I give $$ to realize an Alice Guy Blache documentary? The big studio boys with the real money have zero interest in a story about the woman narrative film pioneer. Pull focus: do I want this film made? Yes. Will I change the dynamic of Hollywood financing by not helping this film be made? No. Do I have a big headache? Affirmative. Will logging in and clicking "confirm" cure it? Probably not, but I just did it. Ugh! Amazon! How much is that behemoth taking out of this? I'm wondering how far we are away from crowdsourcing all our creative - those projects in art, music, literature that keep us human. How far away are we from privatizing education and crowdsourcing teaching children? Log into Amazon, click confirm $K-12.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Newsphere Changed My Brain

In a story I’m writing there is a character named Catalyst. Catalyst is an ambassador. Ambassadors negotiate peace and foment discord, as required by the political body they serve; specifically, the agenda of the power brokers who influence that political body.

Catalyst is a cynical character.

Are our news sources cynical as well? I don’t know. I do know that I became a cynical news consumer, and an aggravated commenter. Read the comments beneath any news piece on the internet and feel the itch to log in and rejoin. En garde! Claim your space, bash the other side. Anonymously. Because who wants to be attacked for an opinion?

To be clear, news is not opinion. Journalism is not opinion. What we read today is primarily not news. What we find is an endless loop of links to opinion pieces that conform to our gut take on a news story, and we choose what we consume based on confirmation bias. Guests on TV nonfiction (can't call these news) shows are well-known for which side they’re on. News has become a virus-its sole mission to replicate itself.

Why do I see weekly Rush Limbaugh video on MSNBC shows except Rachel Maddow’s and Chris Hayes’? Because MSNBC is confirming our political bias, while whining that Fox News does the same thing. Why does Dee Dee Myers wish the Anthony Weiner story would go away, while agreeing to discuss the Anthony Weiner story on a Sunday nonfiction show?

Famine, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, is a character in Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman’s book Good Omens. Famine in this modern dark comedy owns a chain of fast food restaurants. The more you eat, the sooner you die of malnutrition.

A friend had been attending a mindfulness class. I asked what mindfulness meant. She gave me an example: pain is pain. It happens and then it abates. When one revisits the pain, that is suffering. Suffering is memory of pain, rather than pain itself.

I was starving for news and could not stop consuming. The news was making me suffer. I was lucky to regain my mental health because of Dr. Christine Tracy and her book, The Newsphere.

News addiction, in an era when news is mixed with opinion like a drug masked in a cocktail, has to be cured by avoidance. Dr. Tracy calls it going on a news diet. She changed my brain. I read the sites and the columnists I had bookmarked, only as Dr. Tracy suggested, I listened to my gut reaction. Was I angry? Did the news story make me think or just make me triumphant because I agreed, or furious because I did not?

One by one I offloaded the bookmarks. Inch by column inch, I quit reading the loudest side-takers. Then the more subtle nudgers. Any news that made my insides holler I stopped reading. In the newsphere, I trained my brain to read those writers/observers who advance my knowledge base, point me willingly to the writers who are thoughtful and can debate the other side, and give me facts I crave. Real news, real reporters. There are rules in journalism, and our world has abandoned too many. Where and when the rules are abandoned, I abandon those sources.

News can instigate dialogue and action. We must be aware and active participants in our news consumption. When I comment today, I point out where the piece went awry in actually being news.

I commented on an inflammatory headline on a major news site, and the headline was changed that day. I commented on an NPR story headline that misrepresented the report of a medical paper, and NPR changed the tagline. Was it me? I don’t know. I feel neither triumph nor anger. I did the thing it was appropriate to do.

Participation in news - in keeping news honest and informative - is healing, not damaging, both to the news cycle and the person consuming. Not reacting when reaction is the goal is a gift. What I learned from The Newsphere applies to life as well. I am calm. And grateful.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Untraining Boot Camp

We need a Boot Camp to unlearn patriarchy. We need an intense 6 week course of untraining. For the first 3 weeks, we unwind the tape. You are a little girl. You do not learn by rote (and suggestion that this will be your work onward) to wash dishes, do laundry, set the table, curl your hair, iron, cross your ankles when seated. You learn that polite is what everyone needs to be; that nice needn't be your primary characteristic. You have never had to kneel on the floor in school to make sure your skirt touches the linoleum, planting permanently in your brain that what you wear is more important than what you learn. Or any other unnecessary female wardrobe tyranny. You are still called on for the correct answer after 9 years old. No teacher or professor has told you what girls can and cannot do. You have never had an adult shame you because you are female; or observed a boy do this and not be reprimanded. You are told regularly by those in authority that you are equal: if not that, you never hear that you are not equal. You have not been counseled to get an education for jobs like teaching or cosmetology that will provide for you if you never marry. You are never told that joy for us is rare, that you will not measure up, that you cannot have a job, a career, a skill or a dream because you are a girl. The second half of Untraining Boot Camp. We are adult women. For 3 weeks we watch movies, television, look at magazines, browse websites, social media sites, advertisements, listen to people who do not know we are listening and understand finally and forever that too much of what we view repeatedly every day of our lives is designed to make women feel inferior, commodified, diminished, and scared. And that what we experience in relationships and work is the result of the cumulative effect, and the implied entitlement to, and acceptance of, that bias. We hear women bear witness about sexual aggression on the street, at work, at home, on the battlefield. We testify in safety and begin to heal. When we graduate from Unlearning Boot Camp, we are qualified to teach others that women are every bit as capable, intelligent, and eager to succeed as any other gender out there. We will be a positive influence and stellar role model. We then can and will all move forward and kick patriarchy in the nards with our shiny new untraining boots.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Sapphires Is Not About a White Guy

The Sapphires is a 2012 film made by Goalpost Pictures and distributed by Hopscotch Films in Australia. It is based on a play produced in 2004. It is about four indigenous women who formed a singing group and toured Vietnam in 1968. Now the DVD is being released in the US, distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment. You can find it on iTunes. I'm not going to post the Anchor Bay DVD cover here because it makes me crazy mad to look at it. Instead of the 4 women of color that the movie is about (as beautifully shown in the Goalpost poster here), the Anchor Bay cover features Chris O'Dowd who plays the manager of the group front and center. In the back under a blue screen are the women, whitened and obscured for the American audience. So far, I've tweeted a couple of times about this, written to Anchor Bay and outed The Weinstein Company, which owns 25% of Starz Media - Anchor Bay's parent company.  Some of us have been eager for the DVD release. This is a movie about women - about women of color. We need this movie. What we don't need is a bunch of white boys deciding what the image for America needs to be. Sexist, racist, maddening, infuriating - I'm exhausted from the anger. The American entertainment industry is a cesspool of misogyny, and I can no longer accept that this is normal, and that this is the way entertainment will continue. Whitewashing women. Disappearing women. What can we all do to encourage women filmmakers, discourage Hollywood from their anti-women practices, and bring some measure of equity to the industry? Keep shouting foul when foul is delivered. I won't buy this film until the cover is changed. I won't buy anything distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment until the cover is changed. Or Starz Media, or - I am unhappy to write - from The Weinstein Company. 25% complicit is too much. I'm out 100% until this nonsense is corrected.