Archive for the ‘Thoughts about famous people’ Category

Role model musical chairs

Monday, March 11th, 2013

 

While most feminist writers these days are busily taking sides re: Sheryl Sandberg v. Maureen Dowd, I’ve been mulling a completely different front in the ongoing debate over “Who’s More Empowering Than Whom.”*

My Women’s Press editors are putting out an issue in April dedicated to music, and I get to weigh in.  I love pop culture, and I love pop music.  I also love feminism, and most of all I love my daughter, and these latter loves rarely peacefully coexist with the former.

I could have written a PhD thesis on single-monikered popstresses , but my column is too short to take on more than two.

In this corner, Her Royal Madgesty, the Queen of Pop: MADONNA!

 

 

In this corner, the tough young upstart, the Barbadian Babe, and the star whom my children vastly prefer: RIHANNA!

 

 

Who’s More Empowering Than Whom, faithful feminist fans?

I grew up with Madonna, so to me this isn’t a fair fight.  I also stacked the deck for the Queen with a song that’s among the top girl power anthems of all time.  And though I try not to pass judgment on women who remain with their abusers, for myriad reasons, still….eeeruygh.

This is not to say that a Madonna obsession is not problematic.  Would it be nicer if she weren’t prone to ridiculous publicity stunts, many of which involve her crotch & boobs?  Could she have a lighter hand with the plastic surgery and/or upper body weights?  The Malawi “orphans” with living parents?

This would be easier if I liked Ani DiFranco.

 

 

And I’ve tried.  Really tried.  I went to a hippy-dippy liberal arts college that brought her to campus as part of Take Back the Night festivities, but I lasted only a song or two before heading home to play THIS:

 

 

My kids’ reaction to anything remotely Riot Grrrrlish?  “THIS HURTS MY EARS, MOM! TURN IT OFF!”

Your picks are welcome in the comments.

Have Madonna, RiRi, Ani and/or Kathleen gone on the record about “Lean In”?  Since Madonna and Ani are mothers as well as artists and business owners, it’s probably only a matter of time.

 

 

 

*This is what we do instead of March Madness.  Pass the popcorn & wine!

 

Lesley Gore approves this message!

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Not many people know this, but I am a massive Lesley Gore fan and have been ever since I heard her wail on my mother’s scratchy old 45s.  I love her so much that I sat through all of the cheapie 1965 B-movie “The Girls on the Beach” to watch her star as the primmest Alpha Beta sorority sister.* She sang “Leave Me Alone” and she fucking KILLED it.

But who knew that her greatest performance was yet to come?  In a You Tube PSA for the 2012 elections, no less?

 

 

Says Lesley: “I recorded ‘You Don’t Own Me’ in 1964. It’s hard for me to believe but we’re still fighting for the same things we were then. Yes ladies, we’ve go to come together, get out there and vote, and protect our bodies. They’re ours. Please vote.”

I love it. And it gave me a brilliant idea.

Could 2016 be the year that we have a new and improved Clinton/Gore presidential ticket??  

OH MY GAWD, I HOPE SO!

 

 

*okay, okay, I also watched it for the Beach Boys.  You got me.

 

Gabby!

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

On August 1, the women of Crunk Feminist Collective wrote a perfect response to the whitewashing of the USA women’s gymnastics coverage that I cannot improve upon here, so I won’t try.  The post is called “UPDATE: Gabby Douglas leads Team USA to the gold” and very much deserving of your time and attention.  In this space, however, I would like to share what Gabby Douglas means to my daughter–my white, blonde, blue-eyed daughter.

Now, it shouldn’t matter that my daughter and Gabby don’t look alike, but this is America, and it does.  Not to Miriam, of course, and probably not to Gabby herself–but it seems to matter a hell of a lot to the people at NBC, who built their women’s gymnastics coverage around 2011 world champion Jordyn Weiber, a pale-skinned brunette.  Even when Weiber choked in the qualification rounds, NBC seemed determined that the story of Olympic gymnastics would be hers: would Weiber achieve her dream with the team gold? how does it feel for Weiber to see her dream go down in flames? et cetera.

Miriam, on the other hand, saw in Gabby Douglas a lovely, charming, and massively talented young woman and fell in love.

I am not some goopy hippie stereotype who likes to coo “my daughter doesn’t see color.”  My daughter sees color.  She’s not stupid.  She sees color with the literal eye of a young child who refers to her own skin as pink and Gabby’s as brown.

And as a child, she sees Gabby Douglas as a whole person, not a marketing gimmick.  This must be why the mainstream media has been so slow to catch on to what children of all colors understood the instant Gabby entered North Greenwich Arena.

Will that change now that Gabby is the all-around gold medalist?  Hey, everybody loves a winner.  I try to teach my kids to be gracious in victory as well as defeat, but I think if I were Natalie Hawkins I’d give my golden girl permission to say to NBC:

“BITE ME.”

 

 

 

Guns, tears, and American manhood (again)

Friday, July 20th, 2012

I wrote this essay for the Minnesota Women’s Press in April 2007, but they didn’t use it, so I published it on my old MySpace blog (remember MySpace?) on May 2, 2007.  I reprinted it on Blogger on January 11, 2011, after the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.  Now that our country is reeling from YET ANOTHER MASS SHOOTING, I figured it might be time to run it again.

GUNS, TEARS, AND AMERICAN MANHOOD

by Shannon Drury

I am happy to admit it, totally honestly, without a trace of irony: I’m a Fanjaya. That is, an honest to goodness fan of Sanjaya Malakar, the 17-year-old American Idol contestant whose wacky hairdos and wobbly vocals made him a target for derision from the web to the grocery tabloids to network news. I participate in pop culture silliness as much as anyone (I still have my Spice Girls dolls, mint in their boxes!), but I genuinely love this kid. In fact, I’ve had a mom-crush on him ever since his first audition in Seattle, long before he shocked the nation with his pony-hawk.

Shall I break for another pop culture definition? A mom-crush occurs when an adorable kid provokes a powerful desire to pinch the object’s cute cheeks and serve him or her homemade cookies. In common usage, one might say: “I hope they never recast the stars of the Harry Potter movies. I have a mom-crush on all three of them.” And Sanjaya definitely had the toothy grin and the goofball charm to win over the stoniest mom in America. When he wept openly after his older sister was cut from the competition, I felt a bit teary myself. Who sees a boy cry on television at all, much less out of genuine tenderness and emotion? I loved it. He was my Idol pick, no matter how he styled his hair.

But fellow moms and Idol geeks like my friends Pam and Liz thought I was nuts when I confessed that I was dialing for Sanjaya. “Are you serious?” Pam squawked. He was terrible! Liz e-mailed. These are sensitive, loving women who are both capable of serious mom-crushing. But eventually, I realized what made them immune to Sanjaya’s charms.

Neither were mothers of sons.

Now someone else’s son is in the news, and for something far more disturbing than off-key singing: on April 16, 2007 Seung-Hui Cho opened fire on his university campus in Virginia and killed 32 people before turning the gun on himself. Media coverage after the massacre followed a predictable pattern, with a parade of pundits expounding on gun control laws, why students ought to own guns, pervasive mental illness, the civil rights of mentally ill persons, violence on television, violence in video games, the logistics of campus lockdowns, and more. All that changed the day NBC announced it had received a package from the killer himself, containing videos and photographs of himself decked out in his murderous finery.

In one image, Cho brandishes two firearms, holding them from his ammo-clad body at right angles, his face glowering with rage. It’s too perfect. It could have easily come from any grindhouse movie; hell, it could have come from the movie Grindhouse. This is not to blame Hollywood, but to recognize the image’s brutal allure. In America, we love power. We need it; we feed on it. The power that comes from violence is the cheapest and easiest available to those who are the weakest among us.

I was pregnant with my first child when the home video footage made by the two Columbine killers was made public, to be shown 24/7 by news outlets in a desperate attempt to understand what these boys had done.

Not long before, a fuzzy black and white ultrasound revealed that I was going to have a little boy of my own. Two television screens, showing two separate images of boys in America. My typical first-time mom jitters gave way to full-blown panic. There was no chapter in What to Expect When You’re Expecting about this. What on earth was I going to do with my American boy?

Fast forward seven years and I still don’t know. No one else seems to either. Seung-Hui Cho, despite a youth spent in South Korea, idolized the Columbine killers as “martyrs.” I adore my boy, but I fear for him. No talk show or how-to book is going to sort this mess out. But maybe one boy’s spontaneous tears on the country’s most popular television show will help.

I know I had best not pin all my hopes on this one American boy, a reality TV star at that. Of all media icons they tend to have the shortest shelf lives. I have a lot of difficult, ugly parenting work ahead of me, and Sanjaya will be busy just growing up. I thank him for the courage he displayed on the show week after week—and I’m not talking about the spectacularly funny hairdos. It takes guts to be yourself in America these days. It takes strength to take chances, to stand up to criticism, and to cry when it’s all over. That’s a kind of power that is neither easy nor cheap, but it will last him a lifetime.

I hope his mother is proud.

 

After I posted this piece to Blogger in 2011, I received the following comment:

I am Sanjayas mother and I am very proud of him. To raise a sensitive, compassionate, grounded young man in our culture was not easy. It made me cry to hear another woman facing the same challenges to raise a boy within a culture that glorifies violent,macho images of young men. Sure Sanjaya was called gay and teased for his love of baking and knitting. One day,
I’m sure he will make a woman very happy, and most likely will raise his own son,the next generation of conscious, balanced and sensitive men.

Was it the real deal?  I sure hope so.  In the meantime, I’m gonna check in with the rest of the Fanjayas over at www.sanjayamalakar.com.  He’s even selling Team Sanjaya t-shirts, bless his heart!!

 

 

Amy

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011
She had me at “what kind of fuckery is this? You made me miss the Slick Rick gig.”*

I have always been drawn to women who balance precariously on the thin line between brilliant and crazy–women like Courtney, Judy, Sylvia. Women who embarrass themselves regularly. Women who say things that no one wants to hear. Women who are (to borrow a phrase from Eve Ensler) emotional creatures, yet somehow remain firmly in control of considerable intellectual and artistic power.
But a line that thin can be very hard to straddle. Like everyone who was knocked out by Back to Black, I hoped Amy could wobble her way through, making more brilliant songs for us like “Love is a Losing Game.” NPR played a snippet of that song this afternoon and I started to cry.
RIP.
*”Me & Mr Jones,” 2006. Watch Amy sing it live here.

Guest post at MOMocrats!

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

It is my great pleasure to announce that I have a guest post today on MOMocrats, a site dedicated to “raising the next generation blue.” My fussier readers needn’t point out my many beefs with the Democratic Party–we can all agree that liberal moms and kids are a good thing, yes? And let’s be honest, MOM-berals just doesn’t sound as good.
As is appropriate for a site whose goal is an army of progressive children, my piece is about the day my kids offended and appalled Michele Bachmann, then just a lowly state Senator. It’s all true, I assure you. Also true is the story of the future Presidential candidate squatting in the bushes at an LGBT rights rally back in April 2005:
The full story on that 2005 rally, including more pictures, can be found in the Internet Way Back Machine.
Now it’s up to you, MOM-gressives. Deck out your cuties in their best Planned Parenthood t-shirts and get out there. It’s our duty to make candidate Bachmann so overwhelmed with queasiness that she vomits all over Glenn Beck at a campaign stop. Wouldn’t that be delightful??

Guns, tears, and American manhood

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Another post from the archives, this one from a more innocent time: 2007.

May 2007

I am happy to admit it, totally honestly, without a trace of irony: I’m a Fanjaya. That is, an honest to goodness fan of Sanjaya Malakar, the 17-year-old American Idol contestant whose wacky hairdos and wobbly vocals made him a target for derision from the web to the grocery tabloids to network news. I participate in pop culture silliness as much as anyone (I still have my Spice Girls dolls), but I really do love this kid. In fact, I’ve had a mom-crush on him ever since his first audition in Seattle, long before he shocked the nation with his pony-hawk.

Shall I break for another pop culture definition? A mom-crush occurs when an adorable kid provokes a powerful desire to pinch the object’s cute cheeks and serve him or her homemade cookies. In common usage, one might say: “I hope they never recast the stars of the Harry Potter movies. I have a mom-crush on all three of them.” And Sanjaya definitely had the toothy grin and the goofball charm to win over the stoniest mom in America. When he wept openly after his older sister was cut from the competition, I felt a bit teary myself. Who sees a boy cry on television any more, much less out of genuine tenderness and emotion? I loved it. He was my Idol pick, no matter how he styled his hair.

But fellow moms and Idol geeks like my friends Pam and Liz thought I was nuts when I confessed that I was dialing for Sanjaya. “Are you serious?” Pam squawked. He was terrible! Liz e-mailed. These are sensitive, loving women who are both capable of serious mom-crushing. But eventually, I realized what made them immune to Sanjaya’s charms.

Neither were mothers of sons.

Now someone else’s son is in the news, and for something far more disturbing than off-key singing: on April 16, 2007 Seung-Hui Cho opened fire on his university campus in Virginia and killed 32 people before turning the gun on himself. Media coverage after the massacre followed a predictable pattern, with a parade of pundits expounding on gun control laws, why students ought to own guns, pervasive mental illness, the rights of the mentally ill, violence on television, violence in video games, the logistics of campus lockdowns, and more. All that changed the day NBC announced it had received a package from the killer himself, containing videos and photographs of himself decked out in his murderous finery. In one image, Cho brandishes two firearms, holding them from his ammo-clad body at right angles, his face glowering with rage. It’s too perfect. It could have easily come from any grindhouse movie; hell, it could have come from the movie Grindhouse. This is not to blame Hollywood, but to recognize the image’s brutal allure. In America, we love power. We need it; we feed on it. The power that comes from violence is the cheapest and easiest available to those who are the weakest among us.

I was pregnant with my first child when the home video footage made by the two Columbine killers was made public, to be shown 24/7 by news outlets in a desperate attempt to understand what these boys had done. Not long before, a fuzzy black and white ultrasound had shown that I was going to have a little boy of my own. Two television screens, showing two separate images of boys in America. My typical first-time mom jitters gave way to full-blown panic. There was no chapter in What to Expect When You’re Expecting about this. What on earth was I going to do with my American boy?

Fast forward seven years and I still don’t know. No one else seems to either. Seung-Hui Cho, despite a youth spent in South Korea, idolized the Columbine killers as “martyrs.” I adore my boy, but I fear for him. No talk show or how-to book is going to sort this mess out. But maybe one boy’s spontaneous tears on the country’s most popular television show will help.

I know I had best not pin all my hopes on this one American boy, a reality TV star at that. Of all media icons they tend to have the shortest shelf lives. I have a lot of difficult, ugly parenting work ahead of me, and Sanjaya will be busy just growing up. I thank him for the courage he displayed on the show week after week—and I’m not talking about the spectacularly funny hairdos. It takes guts to be yourself in America these days. It takes strength to take chances, to stand up to criticism, and to cry when it’s all over. That’s a kind of power that is neither easy nor cheap, but it will last him a lifetime.

I hope his mother is proud.

Autumn and impermanence

Monday, October 25th, 2010

From the Upajjhatthana Sutta:

Birth will end in death.
Youth will end in old age.

Wealth will end in loss.

Meetings will end in separation.

All things in cyclic existence are transient, are impermanent.

The late fall is a very difficult time for me, for evidence of our cyclic existence is everywhere. As the leaves fall, we attempt to laugh at the specter of death by hanging plastic skeletons from trees and sticking gag gravestones in the dirt. I eat tiny Milky Ways by the bagful to keep my anxieties from taking me over.

Today is the 8th anniversary of the death of Paul Wellstone, and an essay I wrote for the occasion is up at Minnesota Public Radio News, called Paul Wellstone, a teacher in life and also in death. Wellstone is only the most famous person I mourn in October. On the 29th I remember the last time I spoke to another Carleton friend, Liz, who called from her hospital bed in 2007 to wish me a happy birthday. My grief for her feels so fresh that I remain shocked that three years have passed since she died.

I like Buddhist philosophy for its insistence that all things are connected. Death exists because life exists, and life is a good thing. Fear exists because hope exists. Chocolate exists! My children anticipate Halloween so intensely they quiver, just like I did in the days when I could disconnect skulls from the heads they used to live in.

The Uphajjhatthana Sutta also includes this reminder: [The Buddhas] cannot remove our suffering with their hands….I am my own protector.

That’s the way my essay on Paul Wellstone ends. I just wish that mourning Liz were as easy as joining a campaign.

Excerpt from chapter eight, "Liberals versus public school"

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Agreeing with Rush Limbaugh is like getting a root canal; it’s astonishingly, even mind-bogglingly painful, but rare. Still, it does happen. And I agree wholeheartedly with Rush when he says that liberals who opt out of public schools are big fat hypocrites.

A core tenet of American liberalism is a support for fully funded public education, from Head Start to college. Yes?

1992, Bill and Hillary Clinton shopped around the whole of the District of Columbia to find a suitable school for young Chelsea. Did they visit Amy Carter’s alma mater, Rose L. Hardy Middle School? No. For in 1992, DC schools were generally assumed to be disastrous, failing, underfunded, and worst of all, unsafe. Chelsea would matriculate at Sidwell Friends, a highly ranked private school. Thomas L. Friedman wrote the following in the New York Times on January 6, 1993, shortly before Clinton’s inauguration:

Friends of the Clintons said today that the decision was based on their conviction that they simply would not sacrifice their daughter’s education to make a political point. The District of Columbia school system is notoriously underfinanced, overcrowded and far from ideal, and many parents in the District — white and black — who can afford to do so send their children to private schools.

What sacrifice, exactly? Did anyone wonder if the presence of Secret Service officers might help maintain peace at George Washington Elementary? And really, was there any doubt that Chelsea’s preteen intellect would dwindle and die if she were to attend such a school? She was, after all, the daughter of Yale Law graduates who could lay the world quite literally at her feet. Would she lose IQ points at Rose L. Hardy, or would the school, energized by her presence, rise to meet her?

Like it or not, the children of politicians need to put up or shut up as much as their parents do. I would feel differently, perhaps, if the Obama sisters were hidden from the limelight as strenuously as the progeny of the late Michael Jackson, their faces covered even while dangling from hotel balconies. But everyone remembers that the children of the candidates in 2008 were officially a Big Fucking Deal. Chelsea Clinton flat-ironed her hair and showed the world she was All Growed Up. Adorably round Sasha Obama had dimples so deep you could serve soup in them. Meghan McCain blogged and Tweeted her fingers off in an attempt to prop up her doddering old man. Joe Biden and John Edwards both lost children in terrible accidents, as the pages of ladies’ magazines recounted in breathless, image-softening detail. Then there were the antics of Track, Bristol, Pillow, Trigger, and Bamm-Bamm Palin, public relations disasters all.

If a child is offered to the public, the child can be parented by the public. If a child is trotted out as part of the campaign, the voters can expect that child to live that parent’s ideology. Am I surprised that the little McCains went to private schools in Phoenix? Nope. Am I gravely disappointed when the Obama girls march into an elite prep school that native District of Columbians cannot access? Yep.

[My friend, a bleeding heart liberal in the same socioeconomic class as the Obamas and Clintons] also swore that her daughter’s education would not be sacrificed to an ideology, but when she made this proclamation, Hannah was only three years old. Nowhere on the Expensive Private School website did I see the curriculum for Advanced Placement Play-Doh, nor did I see an offering for Accelerated Tag. She wasn’t fooling me, and I told her so.

Shortly thereafter, my best friend of fifteen years stopped returning my calls.

Cheated.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

I have to admit, losing the Kennedy seat to a tea bag in 2009 is not as bad as when we lost the Wellstone seat to a d-bag in 2002. Still, it rankles. But on a positive note, I thought, I can see this guy naked.

HEY! WHERE’S THE BEEF?!!

I’m having a flashback to another right-wing wang I wanted to see….


I want my money back.