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Pop Culture

My TV Schedule, My Self

Hello, Internet.  My name is Tara, I’m the new Director of Engagement & Social Media at JWA and I’m thrilled to introduce myself! I came to the Jewish Women’s Archive to creatively promote a mission that I strongly believe in—to document Jewish women’s stories, elevate their voices, and inspire them to be agents of change. I’ve been actively writing, posting to Facebook, and tweeting my heart out for the last two weeks—I hope you’ve noticed!—but this is my first JWA blog post. I have big plans for this blog, and I hope to bring you, dear readers, a thoughtful, funny, progressive place to think, share, and converse. Please be in touch—I want to hear from you! And in return, I promise to do my best to keep you entertained and interested while staying true to JWA’s mission.

What Fran Fine Taught Me About Feminism

I live in Vermont. There are no Jewish day schools here, no Jewish Community Centers, no kosher restaurants. I’ve been the only Jewish kid in class, having to sit and listen as a (non-Jewish) teacher explained that a mensch is someone who just “schleps through life.”

We have a Jewish community here—I am heavily involved with my synagogue and with Vermont’s branch of Young Judaea—but not a Jewish culture.

Then I accidentally found Fran Drescher’s show The Nanny while channel surfing at my Zayde’s cottage, and there it was, a culture I could take with me anywhere, as long as I had Internet or a DVD player.

The Ladies of Pixar

There is nothing I love more than seeing a gorgeous fellow redhead featured on the big screen, except perhaps for watching a Pixar movie. There is no fictional character I identify with more than Princess Merida from Pixar’s Brave. But I was not at all surprised when Disney “Disneyfied” Merida with sparkles and a “sexier” new body. I was not surprised by the controversy that followed, either, and neither should anyone else have been. That controversy had been bubbling under the surface from the moment Pixar Animation Studios announced they were making a movie with a female protagonist; by taking thirteen feature films to even have a female protagonist, they had guaranteed themselves a gargantuan amount of trouble to please their anxious audience.

Frozen and Feminism on Screen

When my family wanted to go see Frozen, Disney’s newest animated feature, over Thanksgiving weekend, I went along only grudgingly. Judging from the trailers and the product placement I had seen around my local drugstores, all I could tell about Frozen was that it would involve a princess and a wisecracking snowman cavorting across a wintry landscape. Nothing too memorable or extraordinary, I figured.

Happily, I was wrong.

Catching Fire this Hanukkah

I cannot walk out of my house (or open my laptop) without being bombarded with suggestions for Hanukkah (this year, often Thanksgivukkah) merchandise. (Ironically, I am simultaneously presented with ads for “Catching Fire” themed goods, in contrast to the movie’s message.) The Hanukkah narrative has the power to be subversive; it is a story of a minority making themselves heard, of an oppressed group claiming their rights. When those of us who are privileged to be able to buy gifts (and menurkeys) focus on the commercial elements of the holiday at the expense of the holiday’s story, we create a bubble like the Capitol. Hanukkah should be a call to remind us that we should be the districts, not the Capitol; our power should be channeled into fighting injustice, not simply consuming what is provided to us.

Editors note: If you haven’t read The Hunger Games (or seen the movies), you’ll be safe from any major spoilers in this post from one of our Rising Voices Fellows. Be sure to check the JWA blog each Tuesday for a new post from our fellows—and check out the great educational resources provided by our partner organization, Prozdor.

Esther to Bess: We are Crowned by Fate

Sixty-seven years ago today, Bess Myerson was crowned Miss America, the only Jewish woman ever to be so honored.

The Culture of Chill: A Dialogue

This piece was originally posted on the Ma’yan blog.

A few weeks ago, Natalie Bergner and I (John Foley), both in our final weeks as summer interns at Ma’yan, were having a casual conversation about the implications of the word "chill." That discussion evolved into a larger one about politics, sexism and the dynamics of feminism in youth culture. What follows is a conversation in which we examine "chill culture.” While it was difficult to come to a consensus on the word and its implications, we hope that our dialogue will spark others to come to their own conclusions about how the word is and should be used. 

Show your cape, Julie Taymor!

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to scale tall buildings better than Spiderman, it’s . . .

Julie Taymor! The brilliant! The invincible! 

Joan Rivers: a woman filled with hate or humanity?

Joan Rivers: a woman of chutzpadik and chilarity. We either love her, or hate her. She’s either the talk of the town, or fades into red carpet oblivion . . . only to be resurrected again.

So hot right now: Vagina is the new black

The word "vagina," is having a cultural moment, according to Rebecca Keegan of the Los Angeles Times. Once unmentionable, the word is popping up in movies, TV shows, magazine covers, and political debates. The Beauty Myth author Naomi Wolf's new book, Vagina: A New Biography, will be out in September, 2012. I don't mean to brag, but Jewish women deserve a lot of credit for bringing this once-hushed word to the fore.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Pop Culture." (Viewed on October 24, 2014) <http://jwa.org/tags/pop-culture>.

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