Love Is The Answer (Feminist Media)

A Wrinkle In Time was one of my favorite books as a child. So when I first saw the trailer for the Disney adaptation, I was eager to see it. Meg Murry was just like me: wore glasses, self-deprecating, stubborn, misunderstood, and angry with a world that devalued her. So I was excited to finally see her save the day on the big screen.

What I wasn’t expecting was to burst into tears as Meg angrily declared to the monster that she was flawed, but regardless, she deserved to be loved–a message that 14 year old me really needed to hear. Hell, that’s a message 21 year old me needed to hear.

Less than a year ago, another woman-empowerment movie, Wonder Woman, also directed by a woman and also starring Chris Pine funnily enough, came out. Both movies tell the story of powerful women who fight monsters that are portents for humanity’s inner darkness. At the end of the movie, Diana says that “only love can save the world”, meaning that we must spread love for one another to fight hatred and violence, but A Wrinkle In Time teaches a different but equally important lesson: we must also love ourselves.

This is an important lesson to show young women, especially girls of color. Girls are taught from a young age that they’re automatically in competition with each other, that they must be skinny, dress like mini-fashion models, that they must smile and swallow their anger. Girls of color are especially impressed upon to be more like white girls. Meg’s naturally curly hair is a reoccurring topic in the movie. She ties it up at school because she’s embarrassed that’s not sleek and straight, and when the IT shows her ideal self, her hair is straightened like the popular girl from school.

And society is rough on teenage girls. They mock their YA books, their music, their makeup, their UGG boots, their pumpkin spice lattes. And from as young as age 12, men are already sexualizing these young women, yet teenage girls who want to explore their sexuality, they’re labeled as sluts. So a movie with a girl who saves the day by something as simple as appreciating who she is is a refreshing take on adolescent girlhood. And note, once Meg had learned to herself, the first thing she does is show kindness to the girl who had bullied her at the beginning of the movie, who we see is suffering as much insecurity as Meg herself.

Diana said, “It’s not about deserve. It’s about you believe in. And I believe in love.” Well, Meg Murry shows us there is one person who deserves our love: ourselves. Because our love for ourselves will spark love for others. And only love can truly save the world. ~TRL


The “Conservative Intellectual” Drinking Game

It’s very simple! Take drink every time these words or phrases are mentioned:

  • “Leftist”
  • “agenda”
  • “white genocide”
  • “cultural Marxism”
  • “fake news”
  • “cuck”
  • “virtue signaling” or “white knighting”
  • “Dunning-Kruger effect”
  • “PC culture”
  • “Liberal bias”

Then, also drink every time it’s claimed that feminism is ruining our culture, a white boy thinks he can use the n-word, or anytime the Nazis are defended. And you must down an entire bottle of sake whenever one of these guys preaching to you from a YouTube video is named after an ancient Mesopotamian ruler or has a skull sitting in the background of his room. Keep drinking. Just keep drinking. Don’t stop drinking till you black out from intoxication and exposure to arrogant stupidity and hatred. ~TRL

I Need A Wayward Sisters Spin-off ASAP

I need to scream about Supernatural for a second. **Spoilers for last night’s episode if you haven’t seen it yet.**

OH MY GOD???? I NEED A SPIN-OFF OF JODY AND DONNA AND THE GIRLS HUNTING LIKE THREE YEARS AGO???? Claire is such a badass!!!!! I love her!!!!!! And I ship her with Kaia so hard!!!!! And I don’t know if that thing that came out of the rift was Kaia resurrected or a Mirrorverse Kaia or what but whatever, Dreamhunter is my new OTP!!!!!!!!

And Jody keeps adopting all these daughters! She and Donna being hunters moms together???? I’m here for that shit!!!

And I love Patience and Alex too! They all bring something to the team and I just don’t mean abilities. JUST SIX BADASS LADIES KICKING SUPERNATURAL ASS. SAVING PEOPLE, HUNTING THINGS. THE FAMILY BUSINESS!!!!!!!!

(I need Charlie and Eileen on this team too. If only they weren’t dead.) ~TRL

How The Greatest Showman Avoids La La Land’s Mistakes

Woo, first post and first movie review of 2018! Let’s dive right into this.

The Greatest Showman deserves every award it’s nominated for and more. I haven’t felt this emotionally boosted and moved by a flick since…well, okay, Moana. (Lin-Manuel Miranda gets me every time.)

Movie musicals are often a hard sell, but with TGS and 2017’s La La Land, they may be on the rise. But I believe the former has shown us all–filmmakers, critics, and casual viewers alike–how to make a truly beloved musical film. Let me explain.

***Ahoy! Spoilers ahead!***

1. Fun!

What is a musical? It’s happy. You’re supposed to leave the theater feeling happier than when you came in. Sure, there are the rule breakers like Les Mis, but the whole point of musical numbers are to evoke emotion, and when you have a diverse cast in colorful costumes inviting you to the circus, how can you expect to feel any way but joyful? The songs and plot are so much more fun than watching two people struggle for a career and whine and be in a miserable relationship with each other. It’s obvious how much fun Hugh Jackman is having in this movie, and his natural charisma and sweetness oozes out in ways he’s not normally allowed to show.

2. Good, Well Sung Music

TGS stars major musical talent: Hugh Jackman, Zendaya, Zac Efron, as well as Broadway power from Keala Settle. Nearly every song was memorable and is sure to make one want to sing along. LLL had two songs of note: the opening number, which had the most charisma of the whole movie because it was actually entertaining and didn’t involve the lukewarm romantic leads, and “City Of Stars” because its monotonous seven-note piano riff gets played over and over throughout the entire movie and gets stuck in your head for a week after watching it. Plus Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are actors, not singers. Gosling sounds half asleep for most of the numbers he’s involved in and Emma Stone, apart from the audition song toward the end, sounds like she’s getting over a case of laryngitis. I know the point isn’t the singing, but for a movie with as high a production quality and as much Oscar buzz as it got, it was an immense letdown.

3. Engaging Romance

Efron and Zendaya immediately have 10x the chemistry that Stone and Gosling had. Maybe that’s just because their characters were so much more likable. Stone plays a bratty, self important, wannabe actress who is either good or bad at acting as the script demands it, and Gosling is an elitist hipster douche who shouts over jazz bands to mansplain what an amazing lost art jazz is. (Also, it’s really irritating watching a white person completely appropriate black culture all for his greedy little hipster self while John Legend, a really talented black musician, is barely a cameo in this movie and his opinions on jazz are chucked in the bin because he added synths and that’s just too mainstream for Mr. Jazz Jesus over here.)

Once all the dazzle of new Hollywood romance fades away, Mia and Sebastian do nothing but spend time apart to focus on their careers or bitch at each other for not being supportive enough because both of them are narcissistic assholes. Zendaya and Efron’s love story gets about 1/4 the amount of screen time that Stone and Gosling had, yet they manage to make you care about their relationship way more effectively. Maybe it’s because their main obstacle is period racism and not each other.

4. A Heavily Featured Ensemble

Even though this is a highly inaccurate because P.T. Barnum was a jerkass con man in real life biofic about the man who invented the circus, the other characters are significant in the movie, and not just props in the protagonist’s story. Efron’s character who is roughly based on James Anthony Bailey, Barnum’s family, and of course, the members of the circus, all get their fair due. My favorite character is probably Lettie, the bearded woman. She could have easily been made into a cheap joke about women with masculine features, but she is arguably the character with the strongest spirit, develops from an insecure washerwoman to a proud performer and shows leadership skills with the rest of the troupe, and leads the most acclaimed number in the whole film, “This Is Me”. La La Land makes the mistake of focusing solely on Mia and Sebastian, who I’ve already defined as uninteresting and unlikable.

5. Depth

La La Land has none of the charm that Greatest Showman has in spades. Also it is incredibly shallow. Now, a good movie doesn’t necessarily have to send some profound message about society or morality, but without charm or wit, it can feel about as vapid as an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Greatest Showman touches on serious subjects like racism and classism without ever crossing over into heavy handed self-importance. La La Land‘s message is more or less, “I deserve to have all my dreams come true because I’m in Los Angeles and I’m giving the absolute minimal effort to be successful and I’m young and attractive.” Greatest Showman‘s message is simple, and a little cliché, but true: “Don’t be a sell out.”

Man, I didn’t realize how much I hated La La Land until I wrote this review.

Anyway, it may be way too early to say, but I think The Greatest Showman is going to end up being my favorite film of 2018. Like I said, it deserves every award. ~TRL

Why Celebrities Aren’t Ashamed of Being Sexual Predators Anymore

Trigger warning for mentions of sexual assault.

Roy Moore. Bill Cosby. Harvey Weinstein. Kevin Spacey. Charlie Rose. There’s a new one everyday. There have been so many accusations of sexual assault in the media that it’s no longer shocking, which is a sad reflection on our society. And when celebrities are called out for their misconduct, very rarely are they made to answer. Everyone jumps to their defense, claiming that these women are just making up the story, attacking poor innocent men who never did anything wrong, that they’re just attention whores or they have a liberal feminazi agenda (even though bad behavior clearly falls on both ends of the political spectrum).

It follows a simple pattern. In 2016, as Donald Trump was running for President, oven ten women came forward and reported that he had sexually assaulted or harassed them at some point. But Trump denied his misconduct at every turn, claiming, that all the allegations against him were a plot to undermine his Presidential campaign. Access Hollywood even released a tape revealing shocking and disgusting commentary made by Trump, casually claiming that he habitually grabs women by their genitals without their consent (no, Mister Trump, we do not let you do anything just because you’re famous). But despite all the evidence against him, he was never charged, and now he’s President.

With Trump on America’s throne, it’s become quite obvious to the American people that sexual predators, if they are rich, powerful, and predominantly white, can not only get away with rape and harassment, but be lauded by the public and have successful careers in business and politics. He’s the motherfucking President of the United States! And he’s been accused by tons of women of sexually assault or harassment. And it seems like roughly half of America just doesn’t give a fuck.

So of course the predators are coming out of the woodwork. They’re obviously not outing themselves, but rich and powerful men don’t have to be ashamed of themselves or apologize for committing sex crimes anymore, because in this country, you can literally be a known “alleged” rapist, and be elected Head of State. What kind of precedent that must set for these disgusting people.

As Matthew Norman once said, “Power means never having to say you’re sorry.” It seems like he was right.

Why I Like Slash


I am a queer person, and I use the term queer to describe non-heterosexual/non-cisgender people. If you don’t like that term, you may not want to read this article.

There’s a nasty stigma around slash fiction that all the enjoyers and creators of it are crazy fangirls that fetishize same-sex relationships between men. But in my experience, that’s only a very tiny minority. Most slash writers are women, yes, and queer women at that. Here is a forum that talks a bit about the phenomenon of transformative fiction, and why generally women and other minorities are drawn to it more than to straight, cisgender, white men. Basically, minorities enjoy expanding past, or even straight up changing, canon because they crave representation, and material they are able to relate to.

But I’m not here to get into a big conversation about demographics and socio-political zeitgeists. I want to talk about why I like gay fanfiction.

To clarify, when I say “gay”, I don’t mean just mean gay male fanfiction. I have almost as many female/female ships as I do male/male. It’s sad that, as many queer women are involved with fan fic, that the amount of femslash pales drastically in comparison to dudeslash and het fic. (More on that at this link.)

First of all, fan fiction is not exclusively smut. Sex scenes do take up a good portion of the medium, but in most cases, smut accompanies real plot lines, usually a buildup of romantic tension between characters. Most fan fiction sets up the scenario where the characters in question finally admit their feelings for each other…which is usually then followed by sex as a form of catharsis for all the romantic and sexual tension that’s built up over time. The sex is usually a celebration of the getting together, not just porn for the sake of porn.

Second of all, I mentioned above that most slash fan fiction is about two (usually white) cisgender males, written by female-aligned persons. My friend Gemma made a YouTube video about that phenomenon, which you can watch here. It’s easy to pass off male/male fan fiction as young straight women using it as masturbatory material, but, I also stated that most slash fiction writers are queer themselves. So why would gay (I’m using that as an umbrella term here) women spend their time writing about the relations between two men? Sexually, aesthetically, and emotionally, what do homosexual relationships between men have to do with us?

Right now, on, the dominating fandom in TV is Supernatural, with over 120,000 fan fictions written for it. On Archive of Our Own, the number of fan fictions is over 170,000. Of those AO3 fan fictions, the top three most commonly written about pairings are all gay relationships between two white men, one of which is incestuous. Dean Winchester/Castiel (Destiel) takes up almost 40%, Dean Winchester/Sam Winchester takes up 14%, and Sam Winchester/Gabriel takes up 6%.

The loathsome BBC Sherlock series has 102,021 fan fics (as of this writing) on AO3, and over 50% of them are Johnlock. Again, two white guys. This leaves the next dominant pairing of the fandom, Sherlock/Molly, in the dust with only 6855 (currently) fics to its name.

And the pattern continues. Marvel Cinematic Universe? Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes, Steve/Tony Stark, and Clint Barton/Phil Coulson. BBC Merlin? Merlin/Arthur. The entire pantheon of Star Trek? Kirk/Spock. All of Star Wars? Kylo Ren/Hux. ALL WHITE GUYS.

But, maybe with the exception of Kylux, pretty much all of the fandoms I just named all feature white men as their main characters. They are the most developed and central to the story. And usually, their connection to each other is the most meaningful, even though both parties may have female love interests in their life:

  • Except for his brother, Dean Winchester’s most important connection is to Castiel. The angel even says himself that he and Dean have a “profound bond”. Even though Dean’s supposed “love of his life” is a woman named Lisa, who is promptly shunted to the side whenever the plot shows up and eventually put on a bus, never to return to the show.
  • Bucky Barnes is Steve’s best friend for life, and when forced to choose between Bucky and his loyalty to the Avengers (not to mention his own personal freedom and safety), Steve picks Bucky without a moment’s hesitation. Even though Steve is maybe? dating Peggy Carter’s niece?
  • And everyone, even non-slashers, sings praises to the deep friendship of Kirk and Spock, the slash pairing that more or less started it all. Even Gene Roddenberry himself wrote into the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture that their connection “had been the touching of two minds which the old poets of Spock’s home planet had proclaimed as superior even to the wild physical love which affected Vulcans every seventh year during pon farr” and called them soulmates. Even though Kirk is the essential “ladies’ man” and Spock is “supposed” to have no feelings.

Even a fandom like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which is dominated by strong female characters, a good amount of which are lesbians/queer, the second most popular relationship tag on AO3 is a non-canon m/m pairing (two white dudes, of course; ones who have little to no significant interaction, I may add). The first and third are het couples, and the very prominent lesbian pairing that is canon comes fourth.

However, there are exceptions to every rule. The Once Upon A Time fandom (I wrote a bit about feminism, or lack thereof, in the show in this post), despite the fervor of the Emma Swan/Captain Hook shippers, currently has more Emma/Regina Mills fics on AO3 than any other pairing. A f/f pairing! And one of them is sort of a WOC! (Lana Parrilla is Latina, but her character isn’t necessarily. I mean, Mills is a pretty white last name.)

But this is not about me trying to convince you to ship what I ship, or even have a deep in-depth conversation about the nuances of fandoms in cases of race, gender, or sexuality. I’m just trying to explain why I like slash.

Kirk and Spock. Dean and Cas. Steve and Bucky. Holmes and Watson. These are indelible bonds that endure the test of time. Kirk loved Spock so much, he threw away his entire career just for the chance to bring him back from the dead. And to quote the greatest movie of all time: death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.

When I ship characters together, it’s not because of how attractive they are or if I think they’d have hot sex scenes together. I see this connection between them, this kindredness in their souls that scream that they are at their strongest together, and that they make each other feel whole and content. And I’m sorry to say, but I usually see that in pop culture between the main man and his “bro” rather than between the two heterosexual love interests. Very seldom do I see the protagonist and their opposite sex partner share that intense yet tender bond (there are the exceptions: Buffy and Angel, Smallville‘s Clark and Lois). Maybe that’s because screenwriters don’t know how to write meaningful romance. Or maybe actors have trouble portraying that deep need. Whatever the cause, for the most part, slash just seems to work better. So until Hollywood dramatically improves its m/f relationships, I’m gonna keep on shipping the gay. ~TRL

11/1/17 – Halloween Costumes

Hey Raspberries, just thought I’d share my Halloween costumes from this year with you. And I’m throwing in last year’s too because I think I forgot to.

2017a: Wonder Woman

(I normally like to make my own costume, but this year I didn’t really have the time, energy, or funds, so I just bought this one online and made alterations to it. I took the skirt way up, because originally it was below my knee.)

I’m also including a link to a makeup tutorial I made for this costume.

2017b: Dean Winchester

This one was for a Halloween social thrown by a student org. My friend and I went together. She dressed up as Castiel (she went all out with the genderbent makeup, I didn’t because I’m lazy trash).

(Destiel is our OTP lol.)

2016: Fem!Spock

I actually did make the dress for this costume. It’s painfully obvious that this was the first full garment I’d ever made. The wig was a 70s style wig with bangs that I cut straight across to resemble Spock’s infamous hairstyle. Here’s a link to the makeup tutorial for that costume, where I shaved off half my eyebrows.

I love Halloween; it’s the best holiday ever. ~TRL