July 27, 2012

Taking a stand on taking stands

I've found myself in the bizarre position recently, twice, of having to defend my decision to take a stand on some issues.

First, my nephew questioned me when I told him I would never again eat any food product from Chick-Fil-A because of their wide-open anti-gay policies. (That link is recent, but their policies have been known for quite some time...I haven't eaten there in years.)

"So you'll deprive yourself of something just because you don't like what they believe? That's dumb," he said. I'm paraphrasing, but not much.

To that, I answered: Absolutely.

Then, a couple weeks ago, a co-worker was shocked to learn I'd thrown away all my Mel Gibson movies after his drunken, anti-Semitic tirade a few years back. I'll admit, it was hard to give up Signs and Braveheart.

My co-worker, his jaw on the floor, said, "But what about Lethal Weapon? Any of them? You can't give THOSE up."

To which I'll now say: Give me Die Hard any day, but Mel Gibson can take his movies and shove them up his arse.

So yeah. I'm opinionated. I care about issues. I'll give stuff up if I don't believe in the people behind it.

It feel like lately we're bombarded constantly with issues that require us to make decisions.

Are you for gun control or against it? Show your stance by...seeing or not seeing a Batman movie?

Are you for gay rights, or against them? Show your stance by...eating or not eating chicken sandwiches?

Who are you voting for? Show it by...putting stickers on your car?

I get so tired of having to have opinions.

And it's funny, because I have some pretty strong ones.

But you know what? I have my limits, too.

I've been enjoying The Newsroom lately, the new Aaron Sorkin show running on HBO. And I almost feel guilty about it, to be perfectly honest.

Try this: google "the newsroom women."  Tell me what you see.

Lots of articles bashing the show for its portrayal of women, right?

To a point, I see their point. The main female character, Mackenzie, is supposed to be a battle-hardened reporter, but she can't talk to or about her ex-boyfriend without tearing up.  The smartest woman in the room, with a doctorate in economics, is played by supermodel Olivia Munn, and she spends a lot of time causing trouble.  And the upstart young Associate Producer on the show can't stop thinking about her immediate superior, who just happens to be a Very Cute Guy.

I get it. These aren't necessarily tough, hard-ass women.

But I'll say this: I like them. For the most part.

I'm a girl, and I'm a girl in a professional, technical industry. I have to deal with technical, super-smart men all the time. Sometimes I feel like I'm not strong enough, or smart enough, but I keep on going. And that's what I see those girls on the show doing, too. They just keep on going.

So yeah. I've given up chicken sandwiches. I've given up Braveheart and Lethal Weapon and Signs. I've given up all kinds of things in the name of my own beliefs.

But will I give up a fun new show because maybe it's not quite feminist enough? Because other women out there are mildy offended by its portrayal of women?

Not today. Even I have my opinion limits.

(Also, please note: in order to make this post look decent, after a frustrating copy/paste from Word, I had to hack XML. Me. Hack XML. Eat your heart out, Developers, and look out: I'm learning!)

1 comment:

Jen said...

Do you mind if I talk your ear off about The Newsroom for a sec?

"The main female character, Mackenzie, is supposed to be a battle-hardened reporter, but she can't talk to or about her ex-boyfriend without tearing up." => Funny, I don't have a problem with this because I interpret it as a kludgy way of establishing contrast: Mack could handle reporting from war zones for two years, voila, look at the strength of the guilt she feels about what she did to Will. How tidy.

What irritated me was this past episode, where they reveal she knows nothing about economics. But my irritation has nothing to do with feminism and everything to do with storytelling. They established in the first episode (I am pretty sure) that she was born in the U.S. because her father was here as a British ambassador. Based on that alone--never mind her education or her years of experience in journalism--I just don't buy that she knows NOTHING about economics.

Also, I think most of the character development on that show is simplistic. It's not just the female characters. In that sense Don might be the most complex or nuanced one on the show (but I'd have to think about that more--don't hold me to it).

Also? Suppose all the female characters on that show WERE feminist enough. Wouldn't that be... um... boring?

So yeah, I clearly watch that show, and I'm going to keep watching it, because I find it entertaining, and the main thrust of their news project is inspiring in a way I'll admit is totally cheesy, and because some of the news stories they deal with make me cry. Perfection aside, that's not terrible for a TV show.

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