Monthly Archives: March 2012

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

This is a Lawful Notice to people who would make up lies and slander me.

My handle, katz(c), Katz(c), or KATZ(c), and my husband’s handle doad(c), Doad(c), or DOAD(c) are copyrighted world wide. So is my image and all aspects of my human self, and any non-human selves I might acquire in the future, plus the chimaera picture that I got from Wikimedia Commons.

Anyone who uses my name, my calling or my image without my written consent signed in sparkly silver gel ink by my left hand only while I eat an ice cream sandwich with my right hand is violating my copyright.

The cost of copyright violation PER VIOLATION is 1,000 troy ounces of 99.99% pure gold, or 100 (one hundred) live kittens not to exceed six weeks in age. So all of you might want to consider that before you write your lies about me. I will pursue copyright violations ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD so as to collect gold to be able to re-distribute to those I perceive as in need. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to take gold off usurpers of the mighty name of Katz and give it to my new charity for scratching pigs’ ears.

Any slander of me will be pursued ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. So if you tell lies about me and try and slander me to damage my business you will be pursued. I will take your property off you as a point of honour.

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Oddity of the Week

What’s your favorite stock photo type?  Is it the classic women laughing alone with salad?

Or with chocolate?  Or yogurt?  If you’re male, it has to be fruit salad.

Or is it people alone kissing computers?

Are you moved by the plight of women struggling to drink water?

Perhaps you prefer your women proud of their two apples?

Or black women overjoyed to be shopping?

Is this pile of bills making you touch your head?

Stock photography: Proving that cliché and surreal need not be mutually exclusive.

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Review: American Idiot

Jordan and I saw American Idiot on Sunday, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on both the musical and the album. Warning: This post contains strong language that may be unsuitable for people who don’t appreciate punk music.  Spoilers ahoy too, insofar as it’s possible to spoil something so experiential.

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Oddity of the Week

Ever since japanesebirdcookingspaghetti.com (now defunct, hence no link), it’s gone without saying that if you can imagine it, there’s a website about it.  Nevertheless, there’s something about peanutbutterpielovers.com that I find disarmingly wonderful.

Maybe it’s because the abbreviation “PBP” appears throughout.  Maybe it’s just the “lovers.”  This isn’t just a website about peanut butter pies–it’s a website for people who are passionate about peanut butter pies.  Their mission statement:

We made this because there is a lot of other online-resources available on the internet, but it had other recipes also. We wanted to make a recipe for peanut butter pies and easy desserts only. It is important for us to have peanut butter pies gathered in one single place, which means everyone can use it.

I can’t possibly find fault with that, especially since I came there looking for a peanut butter pie recipe.  The recipe I ended up using (which is based on a family chocolate pudding recipe) follows.

Graham cracker crust:

Crush 1 1/2 c. graham crackers.  In a small bowl, mix with 3 T. melted butter.  Press into an 8-9″ pie pan.  Bake 8 minutes at 325o.

Peanut butter filling: In a small bowl, cream together 2 T. cream cheese, 1/3 c. peanut butter, 1/4 c. powdered sugar, and 2 T. milk.  Fill crust about 2/3 full of pudding.

Pudding filling:  In a medium saucepan, combine 2 c. milk, 3 T. cornstarch, 2 T. cocoa, and 1/4 c. sugar.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Add 1 t. vanilla and 2 T. butter or margarine.

Immediately pour pudding into pie crust.  Spoon the peanut butter mixture across it in lines.  Using a butter knife, cut perpendicular lines across the filling to create a marbled effect.  Chill for at least one hour before serving.

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Some Introductions to Privilege (for those who desperately need them)

Ahem.

You are privileged.  You may have more sorts of privilege or fewer, but you have privilege.  We all do.  And you need to accept this fact.

Among the privileges you probably enjoy if you don’t have a blog dealing with race or gender issues is that people probably don’t storm onto your blog and demand that you prove why they’re so privileged.  This isn’t an “explaining why male privilege exists” (AKA “explaining that the world does not exist for your personal benefit”) blog.  There are plenty of blogs and blog posts out there that can explain this to you.  May I suggest:

Finally Feminism 101.  This is the absolute best starting place for gender issues: A blog designed specifically for people who have questions or points of contention about feminism.  Read it all, but especially their FAQs about male privilege and “reverse sexism”.

The essence of privilege is not having to think about the advantages you have over others.  John Scalzi lays it out for you; he says it’s like playing on the lowest difficulty setting.

As far as race privilege goes, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack is a classic resource.  Livejournal IBARW has another description.

If the issue is portrayals in the media, The Hathor Legacy is an excellent resource on the voodoo that is Hollywood and how it favors some demographics and ignores others with very little reference to what’s actually profitable or in demand.  Here’s her classic article, and here’s more on why discrimination happens even when it doesn’t profit, women making up the majority of moviegoers and women as a valuable target audience, why studios don’t market to women, the dismissal of hits starring women, and Hollywood generally operating on a bunch of woo.

If you’re a fan of gender essentialism, The Hathor Legacy is all over that too: Why it’s sexist, why it’s irrational, and why it never helps discussions.

There, now you don’t need to use my blog to demand an explanation for why the world shouldn’t be entirely structured around your desires.  If you have further questions not addressed by any of these articles, I’ll happily respond to them with more links.  Because it is not my job to check your privilege.

EDIT 3/18/2012:  If you’ve been under the impression that feminism believes that all men are privileged over all women, you’ll be happy to know that you’ve been misinformed!  In fact the concept of privilege is multifaceted, taking into account many ways that one person can be privileged over another, gender among them.  Two words you should know: “intersectionality” (the idea that there are multiple interconnected types of privilege that may or may not overlap in one individual; Thinking Girl explains) and “kyriarchy” (the social structure arising from intersectional privilege, where people with more types of privilege are closer to the top; here are explanations from Feminism 101 and My Ecdysis).

I’m also going to head everyone off and throw in Genderbitch’s eternal classic explaining why your intent doesn’t actually make it all better.

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Gender in Film: A Brief Quantitative Analysis

Attempts to point out the gender imbalance in the movie industry often meet with allegations of anecdotal evidence; pointing out that a film doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test is likely to be greeted with one of three responses: Either that it’s only one film and not representative, or that this particular film had a good reason not to pass and ought to be the exception, or that the Bechdel Test is arbitrary and meaningless.  Thus, I’m here presenting a quantitative study of the relative number of film roles for men and women.

Since men and women each comprise about half the population, you’d expect each to have an approximately equal number of roles in movies* (unless you think that women’s lives are inherently less important or interesting, in which case you may feel free to smack yourself).  This doesn’t mean, as is often assumed, that each individual movie should have a cast that’s half male and half female.  Rather, it means that films should fall into a rough bell curve; 50 randomly-selected films might look like this:

The majority have roughly equal numbers of men and women, some have more men, some have more women, and a small minority are all or almost all male or female.  If you prefer, the curve could be flatter, with more films at the ends and relatively fewer in the middle, but either way the overall male/female ratio should be about even.

I looked at Wikipedia’s 50 highest-grossing films of the 2000s, using IMDB cast lists to count the male and female characters.  When the cast was listed in order of importance, I used only the first billed cast members; when listed alphabetically (The Lord of the Rings) or in order of appearance (Harry Potter) I used the entire cast.  In either case, I usually skipped unnamed characters and characters without IMDB character pages, a strong indicator that it’s a tiny bit part, but exceptions had to be made on a film-by-film basis because neither naming nor IMDB pages are necessarily consistent (for instance, I wouldn’t want to omit Tigress from Kung Fu Panda for not having a real name).  Characters without gender were usually counted as the gender of the actor or actress, because there is significance to the sorting hat from Harry Potter and the computer from WALL-E being voiced by male actors.  The results are below.

Drastically different.  It’s closer to an S-curve than a bell curve: Until you pass the 90% male mark, each bracket contains more films than the one below it.  Thus, not only is a film extremely likely to have more men than women, but it’s more likely to be two-thirds male than half male, more likely to be three-quarters male than two-thirds male, and more likely to be four-fifths male than three-quarters.  Only Mamma Mia! prevents all 50 films from containing more men than women.

The obvious objection is that high-grossing movies are usually summer action films and children’s movies, which are not representative of movies in general–aside from Mamma Mia!, chick flicks are absent, for instance.  The 2000s might also be non-representative because they’re skewed by franchises like The Lord of the Rings and Transformers.  The first objection raises the question why action movies and children’s films are not expected to have a strong representation of female characters, and the second is effectively canceled out by the more gender-equitable Harry Potter films, but fair enough.  Let’s have a look at the 20 most-acclaimed films of the decade, as analyzed by Metacritic.

Better; the 90%-100% male category is now empty, and, even though there are fewer total films, the 40%-50% category contains multiple films.  If you take out the three Lord of the Rings films, only one remains in the 80%-90% category (The Dark Knight).  On the other hand, the foreign films (Amelie, 4 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days) fall towards the lower end of the graph, so maybe it’s just American cinema that’s the problem here.

But the graph is still centered at 60%-70%.  That is, the average acclaimed film has twice as many men as women, or to put the same thing another way, men’s voices are considered twice as important to express in film.  And there still isn’t a single film with more than 60% women: Everything is either mostly men or about even.  Women’s stories, with a large majority of women in the cast, are simply not present.

And now for the second round of objections.  Yes, there are many films that are neither popular nor critically acclaimed, but at that point you’re grouping movies starring women with Gigli.  I don’t have time to get into the thorny mess of rebuttals–nobody wants to see movies about women; all movies about women are bad–except to say that a few really good female-dominated films could start changing that landscape.

Men are not twice as important as women.  We can do better.

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You can find my original data here (.xls).

*People who don’t identify as either male or female are, of course, egregiously underrepresented in film as well, but that’s a much more complex issue to address.  As far as I know, none of the films studied included human characters who identified as neither male nor female.

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Oddity of the Week

(Welcome, STFU Conservatives readers and anyone else here for the LEGO Friends challenge!)

This may be the only time I’ll ever say “I wish I lived in Virginia.”  Because I totally want to vote for Hank.

He’s a cat.  He’s running for Senate.  ‘Nuff said.  He’s got a couple of campaign ads, and there’s even an attack ad sponsored by Canines for a Feline Free Tomorrow (truly, there’s a Super PAC for everything).

I particularly like that Hank is a rather stodgy-looking older male cat; he’s totally the feline version of a conventionally “electable” Senate candidate.

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