Tag Archive for television

Neither closet nor fridge: Or how Marvel’s Deadpool needs to take care of female and LGBTQ characters

With the rising popularity of comic book storylines turned movies, Marvel has been dominating the box office and the public’s interest for a few years now.

Most Marvel fans (myself included) have a favorite movie, a favorite avenger, and a favorite future project they’re looking forward to. (For me, they are Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America, and Captain America: Civil War—anyone see a pattern yet?) Even if you find a die-hard fan of DC Comics, you can be sure that they’re familiar with the Marvel universe as well since it’s an almost unavoidable phenomenon.

One of the most recent installments in the Marvel universe was Deadpool, an irreverent, witty, and incredibly self-aware origin story that paints the main character (played by Ryan Reynolds) as anything but a hero. He’s a “bad guy who kills other bad guys.” Deadpool starts out as a mercenary and ends the movie as a man who’s gotten his revenge. Sure, he has a future as a reluctant superhero, but it’s more than likely he’ll be a thorn in the sides of the other superheroes.

deadpool heart hands











The film version of Deadpool has gained some serious critical attention and made Marvel history by featuring an openly and explicitly pansexual character, which means that any potential romantic interest he has isn’t limited by gender. His partner in the current film is indeed a woman, but Deadpool’s attraction to folks of other genders isn’t invalidated by this fact. Ryan Reynolds has even spoken in favor of Deadpool getting a boyfriend in a future film, and fans (myself included) would love to see that.

The only hesitation that I have with this idea is his current partner, Vanessa (played by Morena Baccarin).

deadpool ring pop

Most of the film focuses on this relationship, even [SPOILER ALERT!] placing Vanessa in a vulnerable position that Deadpool rescues her from, allowing for a reconciliation at the end of the film.

This means that if Vanessa’s still with him in the sequel, then we’re most likely going to see one of two things happen:

1: Deadpool doesn’t get a boyfriend (which is such a drag, honestly, it’s about time).


2: Vanessa will be suddenly unavailable to Deadpool, allowing him to find a boyfriend.

But this presents a problem: I adore Vanessa. She’s sweet and smart and funny and retains agency even though her role at this point is mainly that of a love interest. She and Deadpool have a great relationship, and as of right now, I don’t see any reason for them to break up and I certainly don’t want them to.

You might be wondering why I wouldn’t want Deadpool and Vanessa to break up. If it means a well-known male superhero gets a boyfriend, and their relationship serves as open and obvious representation for LGBTQ+ folks in a way that’s handled with the proper respect, there shouldn’t be an issue, right?

To be clear, my issue isn’t with a potential male love interest, but rather with what would have to happen to take Vanessa out of the equation.

So often, superhero storylines rely on tired tropes when it comes to their female characters, whether they’re love interests or protagonists. These tropes include the Disposable Love Interest, who is left out with little to no explanation in the sequel, or the Disposable Woman, whose main role is most often to get kidnapped or killed in order to move the protagonist’s plot forward.

The worst trope originated in a Green Lantern comic storyline and is referred to as Stuffed into the Fridge or “fridging,” and it’s as bad as it sounds. An often female character close to the hero is killed and left behind for the protagonist to find, sometimes as the start of a revenge plotline, but always for the main male character’s development even though the female character will get little to no attention or development as a result of her brutal murder. In the Green Lantern comic, for instance, the hero’s girlfriend was shoved into the refrigerator for him to discover later.

My point is I don’t want Vanessa to go through any of this.

There was beautiful and careful attention given to fleshing out Vanessa’s character and her relationship with Deadpool in the first film, and she and the other female characters have so much potential moving forward.

It would be easier for the writers to kill off Vanessa in the next film than it would be for them to have to fully utilize her character (It would also be the lazier thing to do on their part.) Is this a bit pessimistic? Sure. But check out the list of women who’ve been fridged in comics before (warning: the descriptions in this link are brief but potentially triggering since they often refer to varying levels of abuse and violence), and you might also start worrying that yet another writing team will fall back on lazy writing rather than spending the time it takes to be innovative.

If the writers really need any ideas about Vanessa’s future role in Deadpool’s life, here are some suggestions about what they could do with her:

—The two of them could mutually decide to breakup in order to avoid any more damsel-in-distress moments.

—Vanessa could have a new job opportunity.

—Or she could have some cool powers that elevate her from girlfriend to partner-in-crime.

—They could break up but still be on good terms as friends (allowing her to poke fun at him in front of his new boyfriend).

—They could literally do anything besides killing her.

deadpool coupley Look

My point is this: it’s fantastic that big blockbuster movies—especially ones rooted in comics—are making an effort to become more inclusive of LGBTQ+ characters, but let’s not have that move forward happen at the expense of women.

—Molly C.

HitRECord delivers with real, diverse people

sundance iwnd logo

HitRECord on TV

The screening of the first three episodes of HitRECord on TV also showed on Friday at Sundance.


In this new series, director and producer Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s production company has created a wonderful variety show that views like a motion picture version of a zine.

What I like about HitRECord is that all of the people are just normal everyday people. They don’t live in Hollywood, they don’t look Hollywood, but they are still wonderfully interesting.

Another thing I appreciate about the show is, because it features non-Hollywood people, the representation of minority groups is far better than anything else I’ve seen at Sundance so far. People of different ethnicities, races, disabilities, and talents were all featured. In that way, the representation of diverse groups is phenomenal.

The biggest problem I have is that Gordon-Levitt and other Hollywood actors star in a lot of the short films even though I’m sure there are other HitRECord contributors that can act as well. It would have been much cooler to see everyday people actually acting.

The first three episodes take on various themes and topics. Beauty and sexuality are both talked about in various ways based on each person’s experience, and it will be interesting to see where the show goes with these issues.


Overall this was a wonderful experience, and it didn’t hurt that the very talented Gordon-Levitt was there in the flesh, right in front of me.





Western Kentucky University faculty and students at the Sundance Film Festival. Left to right: Professor Ted Hovet, Maggie Woodward, Leah, and Professor Dawn Hall.

LEAH RAILEY is a senior at Western Kentucky University majoring in creative writing and minoring in gender and women’s studies. Born and raised in Georgia, Leah considers Kentucky her second home. In her free time, Leah watches Netflix and Hulu (her favorite show right now is Scandal) and claims she reads too many fashion magazines. She has written articles for zines and the WKU Herald, focusing on issues relating to race, class, and gender.

The Importance of Body Acceptance: Because We Can’t All Be Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum

These days you can’t get on the internet without hearing another scary story about obesity or body image. As a country, we are obsessed with the subject.

That’s part of the reason I started I Will Not Diet and The Real You Project—to encourage people to question the consequences of that obsession since 45 million Americans go on a diet every year.

This may seem like a good idea given that we are collectively more obese than ever before, but, in truth, dieting is bad for us. Ninety percent or more of the people who go on diets gain back more weight than they lose. That means that every time you go on a diet, chances are you end up gaining weight in the long run, not losing it. And if you go on a diet every year or so, that weight gain multiplies.

These statistics are the reason why I believe diets play a significant role in the obesity epidemic. In countries where people are not obsessed with dieting—France, for instance—obesity isn’t nearly as big of a problem.

This raises the question: why do we gain weight after a diet is over and what can be done about it?

The simple reason we gain weight after dieting is because diets are not sustainable over the long haul, so we go back to our old habits once it’s all over. And as soon as we start eating more, the pounds come back.

Another reason we gain weight post-diet is because, after denying ourselves the foods we love for so long, we want them even more than we did before. I went on the only diet of my adult life before I got married, and after my “wedding diet” was over, I gained thirty pounds (I’d only lost seventeen) because I was so hungry for all the foods I hadn’t been allowed to have for almost a year.

That was when I realized how unhealthy it is to diet.

But the American obsession with dieting is also fueled by our obsession with celebrities. Everywhere you go in America, you see celebrities—on the covers of magazines in grocery stores and drug stores and bookstores, on our television and movie screens, and even on our computers through the magic of the internet. It sometimes feels like you can’t do anything without seeing Danica Patrick popping up in a GoDaddy ad.

And the effect of that celebrity culture is that we, unconsciously or not, want to emulate those celebrities—we want to be as rich as them, as successful as them, as thin as them.

The only problem is that in order to be as thin as a celebrity, you have to make it your job. You have to exercise several hours every day and eat healthy foods at every meal. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have several hours a day to exercise, nor do I have a cook to prepare all of my meals—which is the ONLY reason why I don’t look like Cameron Diaz.

Seriously though—when we try to look like Cameron Diaz or Justin Timberlake (I will never get over their breakup) and fail (because we can’t live at the gym or eat healthy all the time), we give up. We give up and stop exercising entirely and start eating Taco Bell so much it feels like we’re living inside a Super Bowl commercial.

And why wouldn’t we?

If we can’t look like Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum, we might as well sit on the couch all night and eat White Castle, playing Call of Duty 2 until we hear our alarm clocks going off the next morning.

This is why we need better role models. If we didn’t aspire to look like impossibly thin or buff celebrities, we might actually be healthier. That’s why celebrities like Lena Dunham and Seth Rogen are so important.

We need real people to emulate, not people who don’t have a bit of extra flesh around the middle or under their arms.

At the same time, we need to realize that—despite Dunham’s and Rogen’s success—things aren’t going to change overnight. Seyfried and Tatum aren’t going anywhere. (they’re probably making a Nicholas Sparks movie somewhere right now), so we have to accept that celebrities are not good role models.

And only after we do that, can we begin to accept ourselves and be healthy.


A shorter version of this article first appeared in The College Heights Herald.

Taking plastic surgery to its unnatural conclusion

We all know about the dangers—emotional as well as physical—of plastic surgery: not only is surgery always a serious undertaking (several high-profile women have died during plastic surgery), but plastic surgery also hurts our collective psyche by sending the untrue message that we can look perfect and young forever. And also that doing so is desirable.

Yes, we all know these things to be true.

But when I saw the photos above—photos of young Korean women before and after plastic surgery—and read about how common it is for such women to have work done, I became alarmed.

According to Jezebel‘s Dodai Stewart, South Korea is “the country with the highest per capita rate of plastic surgery in the world. One in five women in Seoul have undergone some kind of procedure.” This fact is perhaps best evidenced by the fact that there is now a Tumblr blog devoted to before and after pictures of Korean plastic surgery.

But it’s not just the commonality of these procedures in Korea that is alarming to me. It’s how radical the changes are.

As Stewart explains, “There are a few things unsettling about the images, especially the ones in which the entire shape of the face is changed thanks to bone shaving. Somehow eyelids and nose cartilage still seem rather surface-level, whereas changing the shape of your skulljust feels extreme and intense. And what about the parents of these men and women? Are they sad when their offspring, whom they’ve created from their own genetic material, change the jaws and eyes and noses given to them by their mother, grandmother, great-grand-mother? Or maybe the parents have already had their bones shaved, or paid for the kids’ surgery, or would if they could.”

Seeing these images and thinking about people who are willing to change everything about how they look—to indeed look like a different person, to look unrecognizable—reminds me of an episode of The Twilight Zone I saw when I was growing up.

In the episode, once a young woman became a certain age—around sixteen—she would go to a showroom and pick out her new self—a new body, a new face—from a handful of options. Then when the appropriate time came she would be undergo a procedure that would transform her into this new self. The result was that the young woman we followed in the episode became completely unrecognizable to both herself and to the viewer. At the same time, it meant that there were only four or five ways a woman could look, making society, at least female society, incredibly homogenous.

I’ve always been one of those people who has resisted making myself look different—I always hated playing dress-up when I was a kid and still don’t like wearing a costume on Halloween. And I was probably the last person I knew to start wearing makeup. And maybe the reason is because I am uncomfortable being someone I’m not. And this is why I cannot fathom why a person—female or male—would want to drastically change the way she or he looks.

Sadly, I fear I am probably in the minority on this one.

To sit or not to sit? Why sitting too much is bad for you.

Today I saw a video advocating the use of a treadmill desk (pictured above).

Yes, I said a treadmill desk—meaning a desk attached to the top of a treadmill that allows you to walk while you work.

At first glance, this seems pretty darned silly, but when you think about it more, it kind of makes sense.

People are much more sedentary today than they used to be. The average person burns between 2,000 and 3,500 calories a day now, but in the past that number was more like 3,500 to 4,500 calories a day, raising the question, why do we move so much less now?

The answer is obvious: Americans move less because many of us have sedentary jobs and because we spend too much time in front of the TV or computer.

So some people think the answer is the treadmill desk.

This self-proclaimed nerd, for instance, bought one and made an entertaining little video about why he did it and how it works:

As he says in the video, “People who sit more than eleven hours a day are twice as likely to die from all causes over the next fifteen years than people who sit for less than four hours a day.”

And the Mayo Clinic agrees: “Researchers have linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome—a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. . . What’s more, spending a few hours a week at the gym or otherwise engaged in moderate or vigorous activity doesn’t seem to significantly offset the risk.”

Is the treadmill desk the answer to our problem of sitting too much?

Possibly, but I’m not sure we all have to rush out and buy one of these things. Maybe the answer is, in fact, more simple.

We know that we have to exercise every day. That’s a given.

We also need to limit our TV watching. More than one or two hours of TV (or other screen entertainment like videos or video games) a day is too much.

But maybe we also need to keep moving throughout the day—whether it’s on a treadmill desk or just by taking a five- to ten-minute breaks every hour to walk around the block or go up and down a few flights of stairs at work.

The Mayo Clinic also recommends standing while talking on the phone and holding “walking” meetings with colleagues.

And if you want to keep moving while you’re still working at your desk, I don’t think you need the fancy contraption above to do it. As long as you can find a tall desk or high counter, you can stand at your computer for a few hours a day (which is much better for you than sitting). If you want to push it further, you could easily: 1) walk in place, 2) do squats, or 3) raise yourself up and down on your toes while you’re standing at your computer.

And doing that will save you from spending $1300 on the ugliest piece of office “furniture” I’ve ever seen in my life.

I need your help this week!

I’ve written before about the Hollywood obsession with pairing gorgeous actresses with schlubby actors in my posts about The Dilemma . . .

and Couples Retreat . . .

And now I’m working on a longer piece about the subject.

To help me out, will you all please tell me about any movies or television shows which you think include a beautiful woman paired with a less attractive guy?

Your help is much appreciated!


How beauty is manufactured . . .

If you haven’t seen this ninety-second film that demonstrates how a regular looking young woman is transformed into a billboard image, do yourself a favor and watch it now. It will change how you see everything in the world . . . including yourself.

Average-looking man takes over the world . . .
what’s your excuse?

My friend Ronnie has been feeling a bit less confident than normal lately. Not about her looks or body, but about her intellect because she’s just started back to grad school and is feeling overwhelmed by what’s happening in the classroom.

When Ronnie confided in me about this, I told her something I think relates just as easily to body issues and this blog as it does to her intellect. And what I told her is this . . .

Self-consciousness is the death of success.

I first heard this from Tom Hanks of all people—during an interview of some kind—and since them it has become my motto in life.

Actually, he said that “Self-consciousness is the death of art,” but I think “art” could be replaced with anything that relates to one’s passion in life—it doesn’t matter if it’s art or business or teaching or love or happiness. If we give into self-consciousness, we are not at our best. And we can’t really succeed—again in art or in life—if we are not at our best, can we?

Hanks is a perfect example of this.

Let’s be honest—he’s not the best looking guy on the red carpet. In fact, his looks are incredibly average. But when you see him there, smiling for the cameras, he looks as comfortable in his own skin as Brad Pitt or Daniel Craig.

That’s because Hanks exudes self-confidence.

And this has to be why such an average-looking guy is one of the most successful leading men in the world, a guy who’s played opposite some of the most respected actors in Hollywood.

It wasn’t easy for him either.

Many of you might not know that Hanks got his start on one of the most ridiculous sitcoms ever made, Bosom Buddies, a show about two men who dress in drag so they can live in an inexpensive, all-female apartment building. Think Three’s Company crossed with The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. I probably don’t have to tell you that the show didn’t last long despite Hanks’ bumbling everyman appeal, which he displayed in spades on the show.

A few years later, Hanks broke into the movie business, and not long after that, he began to be accepted in Hollywood. But then he starred in The Bonfire of the Vanities, which has been hailed as one of the worst movies ever made. And it really was that bad. At that point, it seemed as if Hanks’ career was over.

But he didn’t give up.

And he overcome all those bad reviews three years later when he appeared in Philadelphia, a gut-wrenching movie that won him his first Oscar. (And deservedly so.)

Since then, Hanks has been on top. And his presence there is never question. He’s Hollywood royalty. And he acts like he has as much right to be there—next to Pitt and Craig—as they do even though they are all much prettier than him.

And that’s why I spend my days trying to channel Tom Hanks, the average-looking guy who won two Oscars and is one of the most respected actors in the world.

Self-consciousness is the death of success.

TLC’s Big Sexy: a second opinion
. . . a guest post by Kyrie Gialdini

TLC’s Big Sexy is pretty fabulous. It’s about curvy women who love who they are.

I’m thankful for shows like this one because (as one of the women on the show mentioned) if curvy little twelve-year-old girls see this show, hopefully it will give them the body confidence they need to accept who they are and not let what others think get them down.

I certainly wish that I had something like this when I was younger because all of my friends were size six or below and my grandmother was one of those women who told me I would never find a man and get married because men don’t like big girls. I felt awkward and out of place (and sometimes still do) because of how the world often frowns upon women with curves.

It’s a shame that people have it stuck in their minds that women have to be a size two to be beautiful. I’m sorry, but people come in all shapes and sizes, and I’ve found that some of the most physically beautiful people are some of the most unpleasurable to be around.

Beauty truly does come from within, and having confidence goes a long way in obtaining that beauty. Hopefully with this show, more curvy women will accept and love who they are.

KYRIE GIALDINI is a graduate student in English at Western Kentucky University who hails from Bronston, Kentucky. About herself, Kyrie says: “I push myself too hard. I love tea, preferably hot. Word games are the greatest. Cheese is amazing. Green is my favorite color. I hate large crowds…and traffic…I hate traffic. Shoes suck. Plants make me happy. I love coffee mugs. Pasta comforts me. Chocolate is good for the soul. My cats keep me sane. I love to read but I rarely have time to do so…even when I have to. Being an English major only means that you are an expert bullshitter in training.”

Molly in the Middle: my take on TLC’s Big Sexy

The women of TLC's Big Sexy


TLC has launched a new reality television show about “big” women called Big Sexy. When I first read about the show, I was thrilled to hear about plus-size women who claim “’There is no reason to be ashamed of what I have.” But when I tuned in Tuesday night, I was pretty disappointed to see that, yet again, we have another show about women who fall on one end of a continuum and no shows about those of us in the middle. (This is an issue I wrote about in my “Mike & Molly premieres Monday, but still no show with people who look like this Molly” and “What’s wrong with this picture” posts.)

It makes me wonder if I will EVER see average-size women on my television screen.

It also reminds me of an article I recently read about a woman who used to be a spokesperson for the body acceptance movement but has now rejected her former belief that she should like herself the way she is. She rejects this belief because, as she explains it, after her first visit to the doctor in ten years, she finally realized she’s not healthy.

And if she’s really not healthy, she shouldn’t accept herself the way she is. She should decide to change her ways and embrace healthy living.
Let me be clear: I’ve never advocated that women (or men) accept themselves at the cost of being healthy.

But for some reason, the body acceptance movement is sometimes equated with doing just that, and that equation is truly unfortunate. Body acceptance does not mean embracing unhealthy behavior or a truly unhealthy weight. It means accepting the fact that you don’t need to be flawless or a size four to be attractive.

In that way, body acceptance is as much about AVERAGE people as it is about anyone. We will never be healthy—as a society or as individuals—until we learn to embrace the people in the middle: the size twelves and fourteens, not the size twenty-six.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t accept the size twenty-six. I’m saying that until we start embracing the size twelves, we won’t be able to even consider embracing the size twenty-six. Because people will think that body acceptance means fat acceptance when really it just means that we don’t believe that any woman can look like Heidi Klum without making it her full-time job. Even Klum can’t look like herself unless maintaining her body is her full-time job.

Ultimately I’m glad Big Sexy is on the air. It’s nice to have a show on which we hear women being told (by a man, no less) that men should like the woman not the body. (I agree!)

But what I want to know is now that we have Big Sexy to counteract the narrow-minded idea that only thin is attractive, when are we going to have a show featuring those of us in the middle?

Whenever you’re ready Hollywood, I’ll be waiting.

And why not call it something catchy—something like Molly in the Middle. Or even better, Average, My Ass.

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