Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Worldly Serious Blogaround

White rabbits! I needed that extra hour last night, if only to recover from Game 3 of the World Series. I seem to drift off in the late innings and force myself awake for the 9th., then I can't shake off the sleepiness come morning. But the cats have been fed, Robin's gone back to sleep off a lingering stomach bug, and at this point I'll do just about anything to avoid that pile of ironing. So, it's well past time to catch up:

• Sometime back, some folks (liberals, yet!) were apoplectic about new FTC rules (PDF) requiring bloggers to engage in full disclosure regarding products they were being paid to endorse or advertise. I, on the other hand, applaud this move. It's sad that honesty needs to be legislated, but frankly I wish full disclosure were mandated across the board for everyone. It's why I bitched about conflicts of interesting vis a vis the Clinton blogger lunch and the New Amsterdam junket. It's why I shout at the TV every time Rachel Maddow has her BFF Mrs. Alan Greenspan on (or, for that matter, a former gossip blogger who used to be obsessed with and titillated by unusual sexual escapades). It's why I stayed away from reviewing comic books on which my now-husband worked back in my Usenet days, and always (to my memory) began a review of a comped comic by mentioning I got the book for free. It's common friggin' sense, is what it is. As Michael Bérubé points out, blogging has evolved over the years as more people go pro. Heck, I was even a pro blogger /columnist (for ComicMix) for about a year and a half. So I recognize that this enterprise has matured a bit now, and so with great power comes great yadda-yadda.

• On the other hand, I'm not sure whether I agree with Pam Spaulding about the Schumer-proposed exceptions that would exclude amateur bloggers from certain journalistic protections. I think in general whistleblower protection should be strengthened, but if you're not being paid to blog you shouldn't necessarily be entitled to all sorts of legal support for your hobby. I view it the same way as some bloggers' sense of entitlement re monetary support (running fundraisers and begathons and the like). As I've said repeatedly, unlike the days of my old INSIDE JOKE and Four-Alarm FIRESIGNal days when I spent hundreds of bucks out of pocket to self-publish print zines for a decade each, I've never paid a single cent to blog, to post pictures, to upload videos - nothing beyond internet access costs which I would have paid anyway even without a blog. And unlike the situation with ComicMix, I'm not being hired to write Pen-Elayne, I do it out of love. Why on earth would I demand you pay me for something that costs me no money and which I'd be compelled to do for free anyway? Update: Ah, I see via Kevin Drum that the shielding-amateur-bloggers (aka "citizen journalists") bit passed anyway.

• I vacillate between getting really worked up about the sorry state of women writers in late-night comedy (i.e., practically nonexistent) and the idea of romantic liaisons between men in power in said halls of late-night comedy and their female subordinates. There's something very appealing to me, and I'm sure many others, about the idea of one's talents being discovered and nurtured by a more famous person who falls in love with you and, you know, remains in love with you as you become equally famous. It shows up everywhere from A Star Is Born to Easter Parade to lots of movies that didn't feature Judy Garland. Of course, reality rarely turns out this fairy-tale'ish, so there's a backlash of disappointment underlying the very reasonable feminist view that an imbalance of power in the workplace is rarely an ideal situation for a love affair to blossom. It also gets in the way of analyzing situations like that of Kater Gordon, which seems to have involved non-romantic nurturing then dumping. Interestingly, opinions seem to be divided about the Letterman affairs with, for instance, Jill at Feministe wanting to know what the big deal was, and Melissa McEwan opining here and here that it's not just about Letterman himself but the overall atmosphere promoted when women in the comedy scene are perceived as de facto sexually available rather than working partners. Meanwhile, Digby examines, as she does so well, the hypocritical pundit moralizing over it all. But honestly, after "balloon boy" people actually expect anything of substance from most of our "old" media? It's good to see Kate Smurthwaite, at least, beating these odds on the other side of the pond, as she takes her turn on the Tarfalgar plinth!

• Really, really belated but too lovely to pass up: Skippy remember his encounter with the late Larry Gelbart. Also somewhat belated but etc. etc.: Melissa McEwan on how Kanye screwed things up for two women at the VMAs. And a belated but heartfelt congrats to Todd and Ericka on their bundle of joy (mother and child both doing fine). Yeah, someday I'll do a timely blogaround. And pigs will fly.

• A nice trio of posts from Digby's place: an explanation of the producerism mentality; false equivalency between astroturf-created teabaggers and actual HCAN protesters; and points out that those on fire really oughtn't trust the arsonists. Another nice quartet over at Shakesville: about God and morality; how hard it sometimes is to be a feminist (that one by Esme); more on the Terrible Bargain; and a living-while-fat post that made me blub. (A propos of that post, Woman Within tends to be my clothing shop choice. Upside: as soon as you figure out what your size is and what you look good in, you can buy all kinds of great and pretty stuff for cheap. Downside: Made in China.) Digby and Melissa remain superlative essayists and must-reads for me even if I don't always get a chance to praise them to the skies.

• Annalee at io9 has a thoughtful feminist analysis of modern science fiction. Sad that so little has changed from the '70s when I gave up on male-centric sf for the friendlier realms of female-written fantasy. I wonder if it's also why, as Lauren at Feministe points out linking to TV Tropes, "Toys marketed to girls don't use technology; they use magic." Yeah, it starts that young. Although I take a bit of exception to this image Samhita at Feministing passes along. I like the idea of feminist princesses as much as the next enlightened reader, but most thinking women recognize rescue fantasies as just that - fantasies. They're fun to indulge in, and daydreams are good for the imagination and the psyche as long as they're recognized as such. Besides, every now and then fairy tales come true (mine did), just not in the same way some of these tropes suggest. And speaking of toys, as Rose at Feministing suggests, if you're disappointed with the current doll output at Mattel, why not purchase a real African-American looking Barbie from Loanne Hizo Ostlie? Wow, what a striking-looking doll!

• As long as the otherwise-wonderful Joel McHale keeps making stupid Roman Polanski jokes (i.e., FAIL) I guess that story remains current, as it should be until the child rapist is brought to justice. Jeff Fecke has some interesting thoughts on why so many Hollywood types are still supporting the aforementioned child rapist.

• Stephen Fry makes a good point in his Tale of Two Cities. It's the same thing I always say when I'm confronted with "are you a Yankees fan or a Mets fan?". It's possible to like more than one New York baseball team at a time, honest. Lance Mannion reminds us, in the context of bitching over baseball instant replays, that we should lighten up, it's only a game. And over at HuffPo, Tony Sachs makes the case that the older some Yankees players get, the better they get.

• Also at HuffPo, Brad Schreiber celebrates the Firesign Theatre's recent 40th anniversary performances out in El-Lay, which I'm sorry I couldn't make but hey, I'm on the wrong coast and Phil A doesn't do that plane thang very well from what I recall.

• Okanogen at Corrente makes an interesting observation about why the so-called "birther" movement is so insistent. If you build up the President's cult of personality so much so that he becomes like unto a god, you run the risk of not wanting to worship the next person who ascends to said godhood, and then you need to do everything you can to tear them down and delegitimize them.

• Healthcare woes continue, as Sara Robinson has a great experience in Canada and Ted Rall (via Susie) not so much in this country.

• KTK at LeanLeft examines how the media treats workers' salaries as opposed to how much money management makes, and how we're taught by capitalism to react negatively toward anyone "committing a sin by making more than is allowed for someone in their place in the social order." That was a real "click" moment for me, I never realized how much I internalized that attitude as well.

• Typos aside, I adore this essay by Amanda Marcotte about creepy conservative men judging "hotness" of liberal versus conservative women (although I love her almost-Freudian typo of using "hoards" for "hordes" since that's what a lot of these men seem to want to do, hoard women as though they're the mere objects these men wish they were). Also from Amanda, why she doesn't go for the "take your medicine" attitude put forth by some feminist movie critics. I think she totally hits the nail on the head with "Personally, I think plain old sexism explains the situation quite neatly. Right now, the environment is such that women don’t have a lot of time in their schedules to see female-centric movies, because most people don’t go to the movies alone. That means either getting a partner, a friend, or a relative to go with you." Back in the '80s I had a lot of disposable time and income and I was actually a "movie person," going to lots of afternoon matinees alone. Nowadays, I don't enjoy doing most out-of-the-home entertainment activities alone, and Robin and I don't really like going to the cinema where we can't control the volume of either the movie or the people around us. Although we've been lucky enough not to run across the tough-guy creep Amanda met on a recent trip to the movie theater.

• How dare our President honor the fallen troops in public! Why, as Mustang Bobby points out, you'd never catch a Republican president doing these sorts of photo ops!

• Some cultural bits and bobs: After reading Vinnie Bartilucci's thoughtful analysis of the movie Shock Treatment, I'm more than tempted to rewatch it. Carrie Fisher name-drops. I know, it's what she does, but I just think she's so cool anyway. Cheryl Lynn notices a pattern in DC Comics (I'm too busy noticing that lately neither they nor Marvel have been hiring Robin, one of the best and fastest inkers around, and then doubtless wondering why it takes 3, 4, 5 inkers to finish a single book). I absolutely adore Laura's and Eric's romantic neologism. And Wil Pfeifer finds a forgotten hero in amongst the Sgt. Pepper artwork.

• Lastly, watch out, things are getting pretty threaty over at Fafblog!

And so, with only one category (News+Views Guys) left to read and all my saved items accounted for, it's time to post this, then my Silly Site, then take a long, doleful look at all that ironing...