October 6, 2010
Cheerleaders don’t necessarily deserve that bad a rap. Contrary to popular belief (and recent judicial opinion), they are athletes doing a team sport. (You try doing a back loop spiral with a pike alone in your living room.) Some of them are willing to discover their inner gleeks. One squad has actually petitioned their school board for less revealing uniforms — and not just because it’s chilly in Connecticut. Here’s how the Connecticut Post (via Jezebel) describes the Bridgeport Central High School squad’s appeal:
“We ask with the utmost respect you do anything in your power to help us,” said Heidi Medina, a former team captain, removing oversized sweats to reveal a quarter-length top and exposed middle. “I don’t feel comfortable wearing this.”
“It really hurts our self esteem,” said Ariana Mesaros, another senior on the team, in a voice hoarse from cheering the night before. “I am embarrassed to stand up here dressed like this. Is this really how you want Bridgeport to be represented?”
It is now! You go, girlies. B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!, and etc. Especially because recent research does confirm that cheerleaders — yes, especially those who wear midriff-baring uniforms — are at high risk for eating disorders. And, related: there’s an argument to be made that not considering cheerleading a sport might actually make it more physically dangerous. So let’s continue moving past the stereotypes — in schools and on screens — and, while we’re at it, cheer those Bridgeport girls on.
P.S. Anyone watching Hellcats?
March 3, 2010
Okay. While we were all watching Apollo Ohno and rooting for the Canucks (depending), strange things have been going on in England. Maybe you’re heard of soccer, which those crazy kids call “football?” And the World Cup, which happens this summer in South Africa? Very big deal. VERY big deal. And the English team looks like it’s destined to punk out because of a post-breakup fol-de-rol that seems like something that’d happen only in a BG comic.
Try to keep up, now: Wayne Bridge is a member of the English national football team. A couple years ago, the serial modelist hooked up with a French model named Vanessa Perroncel. They had a kid. Then they broke up.
Repeat: THEY BROKE UP.
After the breakup (repeat: AFTER THE BREAKUP), Vanessa apparently availed herself of some revenge sex with Bridge’s best mate, John Terry.
Bee eff dee, right? Professional athletes having sex with various pretty ladies. I mean, we’ve all seen Footballers’ Wives, right? (P.S. It is awesome. — BG) Except no. First, Bridge threw a wobbly. Then, Terry was stripped of his role as captain of the English national team. There were various overwrought events in between — a handshake refused, yadda yadda. Then, this week, Bridge resigned from the team completely.
I hate to keep repeating myself, but: He resigned. From a World Cup team. Because his friend had sex with his ex-girlfriend.
There’s more sordidness to be had if you like that sort of thing: a reported pregnancy, a cuckolded Mrs. Terry packing up her kids and her mom and running off to Dubai, a furious Perroncel demanding an apology for being dragged into the whole mess. Saddest mostest, some say Bridge’s star is fading and this was probably his last shot at World Cup glory.
We know not what to say about this. They were broken up. It’s the World Cup. And they’re professional athletes. Not to perpetuate a stereotype, but COME ON. Groupie tush is not in short supply, and this isn’t Helen of Troy. When will this nasty love triangle stop making England cry?
February 11, 2010
As a giant sucker for teen flicks and coming-of-age stories, I was psyched when Breakup Girl was invited to a screening of the forthcoming film Toe to Toe — sort of Bring It On, with lacrosse — plus a panel discussion moderated by Melissa Silverstein (Women & Hollywood) featuring Courtney Martin (contributor to The Shriver Report and senior correspondent for The American Prospect), Rachel Simmons (NYT bestselling author of Curse of the Good Girl and Odd Girl Out) and Emily Abt, writer/director of Toe to Toe.
Drawing from the diverse, but racially and socio-economically divided landscape of Washington, D.C., Toe to Toe opens with a very powerful female voice. We hear Tosha chanting the mantra “Black Bitch” as she prepares to face her opponents for a lacrosse tryout. In that moment, we get a very raw glimpse of Tosha — warrior, high achiever, focused, dedicated and hard at work; for her, not a lot comes easy. Tosha tries to score a goal, only to come up short. As we see Tosha ’s frustration, Jesse appears. Fun-loving, with a certain arrogance of grace and skill that, along with the comforts of privilege, come naturally, Jesse says: “Watch me!”– and deftly winds her way to the goal and scores. On the exterior, their competitiveness on the lacrosse field, as well as the obvious markers of race and class, would seem to divide them, but something surprising happens as Tosha accepts Jesse’s help with her lacrosse game. Curiosity wins out as each girl sneaks a peek into the other’s world.
Obviously, their friendship is not uncomplicated. Preceded by their reputations, they take up different roles in the high school hierarchy. With their personal struggles, pressure from other students, and an interest in the same boy, the two find themselves “toe to toe” on more than just the lacrosse field. By the time Tosha’s locker is tagged with her mantra “Black Bitch,” their friendship has unraveled. The school goes into an uproar; the administration takes action. I was struck by this moment because throughout the film, we see Jesse at her locker with the word “Slutster” written across it. While never acknowleged, the label is there. Somehow, in a school quick to take up arms over race, it is still acceptable by both male and female students to demean a young woman or girl by labeling her a slut.
While similar in theme to more comedic fare such as Mean Girls, Toe to Toe stands out because the struggle for Tosha and Jesse comes from working within, yet pushing the boundaries and limits of the roles they have been given. They are unapologetic about who they are and own their actions, both “good” and “bad.”
Additionally, Abt broaches very women-centric topics such as the “virgin/whore” dichotomy, the normality of sports in women’s lives, girls’ aggression, working mothers and absent fathers, displacement of care with mothers leaving their own children to care for children of more affluent households, negotiating multiple identities, lesbians, rainbow parties, cliques, appropriating language, issues of privacy and technology, the power of perception and — there’s more! — the power of female sexuality. The film as a whole is an unapologetic portrayal of girls on the verge of becoming women and the dynamics of their worlds.
The panel, likewise, spoke to these topics and asked some important questions. How do we get people, namely boys and men to watch films with complex female characters? Why is it important to have male viewers?
We already know women have some serious box office mojo. The second installation of Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight series broke into the number 3 spot for all time box office opening weekends. An Education and Precious are in contention for Best Picture. A year or two ago Juno walked away with an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Does anyone even need to mention the phenomenon of Sex and the City?
Women want images that represent their multiple identities. No, I’m not talking multiple identities in the crazy sense. Just like men, we aren ‘t all the same. Maybe we just want a little reciprocity. So, all you women AND men out there, support independent film-making. Support women. See Toe to Toe, even if you never quite saw the point of lacrosse. (You will now.) Then, come and tell us what you think.
Tags: chick flicks
, coming of age movies
, Courtney Martin
, Emily Abt
, Melissa Silverstein
, Rachel Simmons
, strong women
, teen movies
, Women & Hollywood
, women in Hollywood
October 22, 2009
May 21, 2008
An image stuck in my head since last week: Cardinals vs. Brewers, bottom of the fifth, Cards down 7-1. Evidently frustrated Cards catcher Yadier Molina throws a verbal hissy about the ump’s latest call. Right quick, the two start jawing at one another nose-to-nose, like they do in movies about baseball or commercials for chewing gum.
Molina gets ejected, natch, at which point Cards manager Tony LaRussa saunters over to take Molina’s place up the ump’s nostrils. While Molina makes a big show of tossing his catcher’s gear at the umpire’s feet, LaRussa is likewise ousted from the game.
I cringe to admit that the scene reminded me of some knock-down-drag-outs I’ve had with exes. I’m sure at some point, I’ve tried to pull off some histrionic bit like Molina’s aggro-sarcastic gear-shedding. And yet? I’m oddly jealous of him and LaRussa.
Why? Because Molina and LaRussa will get to keep their well-paying jobs as professional sports guys. Even though what they did was counterproductive to the task at hand (you know, winning a baseball game) nobody on their team is going to hold a grudge, as even guys who play baseball for a living recognize that it is, after all, just a baseball game, just a bad flare-up in a season that’s 120 games or so long.
Being in a relationship, by contrast, pays zero dollars, can take an awful lot of work — and, at those unfortunate times when you do work yourself up into a bat-hurling moment, there’s no third-party commissioner to assign you a measly wrist-slap of a fine before everybody just moves on.
Can anyone tie that all up into a nice love/baseball metaphor for me? I’ll be over here with the Cracker Jack.