I opted out of typing music listings and attending sociology class Friday in favor of checking out the conference taking place on the University of Cincinnati’s campus: Pop Praxis: Social Justice & the Media. With discussion topics like, “Disco Stick: Lady Gaga and the Phallus” and a keynote speech from Bitch Magazine’s own Andi Zeisler, I was stoked for an enlightening day of stimulating pop culture discussion.
The conference was the result of a collection of papers, presentations and workshops submitted by speakers ranging from undergrads to professors to alumni from a number of universities. Submissions were required to regard "pop culture as it relates to feminism, race, disability or queer theory, class, consumption, and all forms of political activism or cultural production."
It was an honor for the university to welcome Andi Zeisler, co-founder and editorial/creative director of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture. She wasted no time launching into a pointed discussion about the importance of feminism today, despite the general public’s tendency to assume that the movement is past and irrelevant.
“Any media needs to make money,” Zeisler pointed out, “and the quickest and surest way to do that is to sell out women.”
In short, while addressing the frustrating roadblocks today’s feminist advocates face, Zeisler commended technology and blogging as new ways to comment on the media and bring important issues to public attention, keeping intelligent discussion going that might not have been able to take place before.
Zeisler said Bitch’s goal is to help people think about pop culture in a more critical way, so it makes sense that the speakers in the sessions that followed did exactly that.
While the main event was arguably Zeisler's speech, the presentations and workshops were fun and eye opening.
During the first session, Sarah Mitchell called out Winnie of The Wonder Years for her textbooks that attempt to make math “sexy” for middle school girls in “Postfeminist Math Barbie: Danica McKellar’s Provocative Education Advocacy.” Lee Serbin also pointed out the shaky, back-and-forth stance Tina Fey’s character holds between feminism and postfeminism in 30 Rock during her discussion, “30 Rock and Feminism in Flux.”
Some women in the media, however, aren’t so bad to look up to. One presenter discussed how Lady Gaga rocked the phallus on the cover of Q Magazine as a response to the public’s accusation that she’s packing a package. While still technically enforcing the belief that a penis equates power, her gender-bending humor puts sexists in their place.
A strong argument was also made for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Admittedly, she was skinny and blonde, but more importantly, she overcame that image to kick vampire ass. The slayer was decidedly deemed a pretty solid female role model for something popularized by mainstream television.
Feminism wasn’t the only topic of the day, however. One student discussed Batman as an extreme representation of hypermasculinity who tends to equate violence with being a man. That, and maybe steroid use after all the bulk the superhero’s acquired over the years.
During the same session, another speaker addressed the somewhat androgynous image of the emo kid. This speaker deserves props for researching something so fickle in the world of teenage cliques. She concluded that, while the emo subculture allows for somewhat of a break from that Batman-inspired masculinity, only the white boys of suburbia seem to make up this social group.
While it was impossible for me to make it to each presentation, at the end of the day, the message was clear: People need to be careful about what they consume.
There are no clear answers. Watching a Lady Gaga video over 30 Rock isn’t necessarily going to be more empowering, and children who prefer Batman to Chris Carrabba aren’t doomed to a life of violence. The important thing Pop Praxis stressed is that the discussion remains open and that we, as responsible consumers of popular culture, keep a critical eye on it.
Don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day? Pissed off about all the publicity that corporate media give Sarah Palin? Mad that shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition still are on TV? Just bored?
No matter the reason for your frustration, you can release some of that energy by attending “Cincinnati’s Largest Snowball Fight!,” planned for Sunday afternoon, Feb. 14.
So this hasn't officially happened to me yet, but my mom's best friend from high school joined when he became single again and he tells her what my status updates are. BTW my mom doesn't really know what "status update" means. She doesn't even understand what Facebook is.
Cincinnati's Guerrilla Queer Bar is about to turn one! That means they're celebrating one whole year of transforming popular straight bars (e.g, Cadillac Ranch, the Pavilion) into a flashmob of "queer dance-love-heaven" for one night, the first Friday of the month.
All of your high school friends are back in town and everyone wants to get drunk before they have to hang out with their families all day tomorrow. Here's a list of some bar events going on around town. I'm sure any bar will be fun tonight and you're probably only going to go to your bar, but it's fun to think about what you could but won't be doing.
You might have heard about CityBeat's first Answers Issue, but in case you haven't, here's a quick and dirty rundown: You submit us questions about life in the Queen City you want
answered, but can't solve with the help of Wikipedia, Siri or your mom.
That means anything on city politics, arts and culture, food, sports,
neighborhoods, dog-friendly restaurants, Clifton's suspicious monopoly on Indian cuisine, why McMicken Avenue is consistently scary at all hours of the day, why Cincinnati doesn't have its own font, or if any episodes of The Wire cross-reference any IRL events in Cincinnati.
You submit your question (check out the Answers Issue page here), and our dutiful reporting team will pick the ones we like best, divide them up and bring you back the answers in an issue sourced directly from you guys. Don't worry, we can see your names when you submit, but otherwise, your questions will be anonymous.
Here's a taste of what we've gotten so far:
Q: What would win in a fight, an Over-the-Rhine rat, or a Fountain Square pigeon? Each would be able to choose one non-projectile weapon of its choice.
Q: Where can you find poutine on a menu in Cincy?
Q: What would be the economic and environmental effects of making hunting illegal in the Greater Cincinnati region?
Q: Why is it that Madison Road through O'Bryonville can get backed up to DeSales Corner on some days during rush hour, but be completely open on others?
Q: Is it safe to jump in the Genius of Water Fountain?
Q: Why isn't Hudephol brewed in Cincinnati?
Some, clearly, are taking it more seriously than others, but that's okay. Be real, we all need to know who'd win that fight (Disclaimer: No animals will be injured in the making of The Answers Issue).
We could use a lot more questions, you inquiring minds. Here's the question submissions form.
So here it is, Friday night and I'm opting to stay in to write. Let's get retroactive.
Last night, Wednesday night, we visited Levi's and FADER magazine's FORT (don't ask me what it stands for) tent to watch B.O.B. and Little Boots. I don't know either of them but they were modestly entertaining. More than modestly entertaining was the free booze with zero lines. My initial thoughts, after waiting for 20 minutes to get our event passes (Pete, Mandy and Josh were all somehow on the guestlist. Me, just a plus-one), are that I have never seen so many hipsters, wannabes, rockers, douchebags and photojournalists ever in my entire life. In one place. Not even Williamsburg can really compete.
Do you love the true storytelling style of This American Life and live groups like The Moth and Cincinnati's True Theater? Head down to Below Zero Lounge tonight for Teilen (German for "to share"), a local storytelling night. In honor of Leap Day, tonight's theme will be "leaping out." Enjoy a variety of true stories told without notes, and feel free to share your own five-minute anecdote. Storytelling is one of the oldest human traditions and it's still a great way to connect with others. Doors open at 6 p.m.; the free event starts at 7. Find details here.
Sexy Time Live Band Karaoke continues its weekly mission to make us all feel like Rock Stars. Become a frontman (or woman!), if only for three minutes. Karaoke kicks off at 9 p.m. in Northside Tavern's back room. Check out the group's Facebook page for details and an extensive song selection (start rehearsing now!).