Pop Culture

The good, the bad, the bizarre - Link Roundup, Oct. 30, 2009

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The Good:

  • When divorce is a reason to celebrate. [Sisterhood]
  • "If you're happy and you know it..." Ellen Goodman refutes the results of the so-called "Happiness Survey." [Boston Globe]
  • Cory Kahaney (one of the hosts of Making Trouble) hits the borscht belt with her new play. [TheJewishWeek]
  • "New Jews" are doin' it for themselves.  The post-baby-boom Jews embrace new approaches to Jewish culture and faith, which include praying in the desert, webcasting bible stories, organizing for non-Jewish causes, Jew-tattoos and punk rock. [CNN]
  • With the emergence of women scholars in the Orthodox community, women are starting to talk about sex. [Forward]

What is Jewish hair?

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Photo: "Great Jewish Hair" by Sashinka-uk

The buzz about Good Hair, Chris Rock's new documentary about Black hair, has got me thinking about "Jewish hair": what it is, what it means, and where I -- a straight-haired woman -- fit into this curious piece of Jewish identity. 

Fat Talk

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October is host to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Love Your Body Day (Oct. 21st), and now Fat Talk Free Week. Beginning Oct. 19th, Fat Talk Free Week challenges us to stop "Fat Talk", defined as "all of the statements made in everyday conversation that reinforce the thin ideal and contribute to women's dissatisfaction with their bodies.

"Cravings:" Food and the Jewish experience

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This weekend I went to the Central Square Theater to see Cravings: Songs of Hunger and Satisfaction, a cabaret set in a Jewish kitchen that explores themes of hunger, success, acceptance, nourishment, fame, and sex.  Cravings, starring cabaret artist Belle Linda Halpern, accompanied by Ron Roy, and directed by Sabrina Hamilton, was originally created to close the Ko Festival's 2008 series, themed on food.

As I entered the theater I was surprised to find myself in a Jewish kitchen. The only thing out of place was the piano. Belle Linda Halpern made charoset, and kibbitzed with us in between songs.  She even called on Ron to help peel apples. As a Jewish woman, I found everything in this show relatable. (Except, where did they find such a quiet food processor!?) But what struck me most of all was the connection Halpern draws between the Jewish craving for food and the craving for success and achievement.  

Save the ta-tas?

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T-shirt available from CafePress.com.

"Boobs, boobies, titties, and ta-tas."  These are not the words of a giggling 6 year-old, but the words of the nationwide Breast Cancer awareness campaign.  They are illustrated by the t-shirt to the right, and a variety of other oh-so-tasteful designs. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and this year, campaigns have ditched the emotional appeals to save the lives of the women in your life in favor of misogynistic slogans like, "Save the titties!" and "Save Second Base!"

 

If Lois Griffin is Jewish, who isn't?

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Earlier this week, Family Guy aired an episode called "Family Goy" in which Lois (the mother) discovers her Jewish roots.  As a self-proclaimed pop culture critic I feel like I should say something about this but honestly, what's to say?  It's getting a lot of attention, as you might expect when a show known for offensive humor takes on the Jews. But the reality is that this is nothing new.  If anything, it confirms the fact that Jewiness has gone mainstream.

The "fury of the kooky, odd-looking girl"

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On Saturday, 67 year-old Barbra Streisand will return to the Vanguard - the venue that made her a star. According to this piece in the New York Times Magazine, the concert will feature 13 songs (whose "average year of composition is 1963") to promote her album Love Is the Answer.

The all-singing, all-dancing, Jewish girl on Glee

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I have fallen head-over-heels in love with the new Fox series Glee.  Often called the "anti-High School Musical," Glee is a series about a group of high school misfits who find their place in the unpopular Glee Club, featuring Rachel Berry -- a Jewish girl -- as the lead female character. The show uses all the usual high school stereotypes (cheerleaders, jocks, freaks, geeks, etc.), to create a deliciously witty and hilarious satire.  The students of the Glee Club represent the standard marginalized groups you would find in a high school and it is led by, you guessed it, the strong-willed Jewish girl.

What Patrick Swayze (z”l) did for Jewish women

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I heard the news about Patrick Swayze's death when I logged on to Facebook last night and saw numerous status updaes about dancing the merenge and not putting Baby in the corner. Swayze's death is not just sad (he was only 57); for Jewish girls of my generation, it's the end of era.

Inglourious Jewess

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Inglourious Basterds has been called the "ultimate Jewish revenge fantasy," in every review and blog post I have seen.  I am not interested in adding my two cents to the debate about whether revenge fantasies are "good for the Jews" or "bad for the Jews."  Instead, I would like to offer a different angle on the film. 

Last week I wrote about the deficit of "kick-ass Jewish women" in film, and Sylvia suggested that Shoshana of Inglourious Basterds fit the bill.  Now that I've seen the movie, I completely agree.  The true hero of Inglourious Basterds is the heroine: Shoshana Dreyfus, a kick-ass Jewish feminist.

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