Review: OBJECTIFIED on Blu-ray

My first Blu-ray review of 2013 for PopMatters posted today. I look at the design documentary, Objectified.

In her review of the film for PopMatters, Cynthia Fuchs characterizes Objectified as “illustrative rather than provocative” (24 November 2009). Another way to think about the film is as a general primer on the design of everyday objects. In serving that function, the movie is likely to prompt reactions such as, “That’s interesting”, or, “I hadn’t thought of that”, but doesn’t examine any aspect of its topic critically or deeply enough to engage in much beyond the raising of key questions on topics such as sustainability or consumerism.

Read the full review.

Recommended daily reading – 26 January (been longer than I thought edition)

Items that I have been compiling.

From the world of academia:

  • Last week, Michelle Obama gave a little noted talk encouraging study abroad for American college students. Her focus on China is predictable, but I do appreciate that she seems to have grounded that in a broader appeal. It isn’t easy getting Western students to leave the comforts of home, but maybe as the university attracts more international students itself, that will change.
  • On her Cocktail Party Physics blog, Jennifer Ouellette has a great post on Veronica Mars as a model for girls in science.
  • rabble.ca has an interesting post about the University of Toronto General Assembly, which is an attempt on the part of students, faculty, staff, and community to build an alternate governing model for the university.

Turning to comics:

  • Via Ragnell on Written World, is a link to this Metrokitty comic on the “paper mirror” which succinctly explains why diversity in comics matters.
  • On the other side of that debate, Gail Simone on her tumblr blog, tangles with an aspiring comics writer regarding his desire not to be compelled to write a comics with a gay hero.
  • Project:Rooftop recently featured this cool Victorian Batman by Matthew Humphreys.
  • Finally, it isn’t really news anymore, but I learned of the new Batman film casting via Comics Alliance. Right now, I am mostly interested to know what it means that Anne Hathaway has been cast as “Selina Kyle” rather than as Catwoman.

And in urban geography, via Inhabitat, Washington DC unveiled a bike station adjacent to Union Station. On the Spacing Magazine blog, Alex Bozikovic, looks at an interesting contest to design wildlife pathways for major roads and highways. Some very cool ideas. And in my feed at least, via ProgGrrl on Twitter, I found this interesting map showing where in the U.S. it make more sense to rent and where it makes more sense to buy. Culturally, of course, in the U.S. ownership is always assumed to be better.

Recommended daily reading – 1 December (a new month edition)

A few items I have collected:

At Inside Higher Education is a debate about the value of the humanities that begins with Gregory Petsko’s open letter to SUNY-Albany’s president, George Phillip, regarding his announcement of cuts to various language and arts departments. Petsko makes the case for the humanities as valuable to a variety of life paths, and not just in reference to a specific job or career track, and also argues for the university’s role in ‘preserving knowledge’ as well as training for the present. The comments, of course, are interesting, too, Petsko seems to have his own private troll, and then there is this puzzling follow-up from University of Illinois English lecturer, Kristin Wilcox. I write ‘puzzling’ because, as a few commenters point out, Wilcox, while appreciating Petsko’s defense of the humanities, also sees his perspective as naive, but she does not directly suggest how the humanities should be valued if not in the way that Petsko argues.

On Written World is a pointed comment on a recent discussion of Jessica Alba’s performance in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, where Alba was directed to “be prettier” when she cried. Alba expressed some anguish at being told to be less ‘real’ in her performance, and more like the object of beauty the director and producers had in mind then they cast her. This story is interesting for how keenly aware of her objectification Alba is, I think many would assume that she would not be, and also because the critique at Written World of the response to her is clear and incisive.

Two items of cool: (via Robot 6) a This American life poster reproducing a panel from the Nation X comics, and this ‘cinematic’ wallpaper at BLDGBLOG.

November “Worlds in Panels”

My column for this month is up at PopMatters. I look at fan and artist redesigns of female superheroes, taking Supergirl as a case in point, again, and consider the possibilities that these reworkings open up for how women are imagined in comics.

The main problem when it comes to defending tradition in relation to women and girl superheroes is that tradition has not done well by these characters. Assigned supporting roles, placed in the background, subjected to bodily threats and drawn into sexualized poses that male characters are not, ‘tradition’ when it comes to female superheroes is not an innocent appeal to honoring the past, but a political argument about the (marginal) place of women in comics.

Read the column

Recommended daily reading – 15 September

A few short items today:

First, the Arsenal.com match report on the Gunners 6-0 thrashing of Sporting Braga in the Champions League today.

Next, a nice feature on Metric by Jer Fairall in PopMatters. An excerpt from the conversation with Emily Haines:

“[New Wave] was just where we were at. That’s what we heard, that’s what we wanted: my synth dreams that will one day come true of truly expressing my inner synth geek one day will happen. It’s not like you make a strategic move, it’s like you do what you wanna do and what feels right to you. I love the garage rock stuff but I wasn’t gonna suddenly just drop what Jimmy and I have been developing, which is this total love of electro and dance music and trying to bring those New Wave sounds and the songwriting and the energy of rock and roll all together. Dance rock is not a new idea now, but it’s hard to try and express that in front of 20 people, it feels kinda stupid, but that’s part of the test. You just keep doing it. I’m glad we didn’t give up. It was hard to make a synth look rock and roll for a minute, but it worked out.”

The article provides a condensed history of the band, with a particular look at Metric’s place in the world of digital music and their recent Hollywood entanglements.

Finally, this from Inhabitat is just cool.