Genevieve Valentine's Blog, page 7

October 7, 2014

This week on Sleepy Hollow, an actual show that exists, the bad guy laid out his plans for world domination by painstakingly building a diorama of the town.

I'm into it because 1) this show is trying not to take itself seriously and I like that, and 2) it suggests it's taking things just seriously enough to introduce continuity even if it's just the tiny-town-becomes-increasingly-detailed-with-evil kind.

But that's not really what the show cares about. Over at the io9 recap, I finally introduced a little MSR-inspired feelsometer, based on the fact that the show has just doubled down on the number of "we only have each other" related things Abbie and Ichabod say every week while Abbie is trying to reconnect with Jenny and Ichabod is trying to remember why Katrina is considered an asset.

Frankly, if we're just done with Ichabod's angsty backstory except as an adorable man on a quiet journey to pine for Abbie and learn how to use all the remotes, that's probably fine. Katrina spends this episode looking peaked in a seafoam dress and getting nothing done, and aside from the amazing diorama, even Henry has been demoted to Guy Waiting Around for the Apocalypse while he lights beds on fire with his mind, so his whole thing's a mess. (His confession about his shambles of a life is amazing, and reminded me that if Queen Catherine ever met him....she'd instantly murder him, actually, she doesn't put up with name-dropping.)

Plus, I feel like the visuals themselves are starting to weigh in on the will-they-of-course-they-will aspect of the Ichabod and Abbie pairing. A shot in which Ichabod is talking and has narrative control of the scene:

Moments before that, while they were narratively equal, the distance is slightly different:

In that he's now close enough for her to perform an eye exam on him.

I love how over the proximity of men Abbie is for this entire episode. There's a new guy who's clearly there to lock lips with somebody (I suspect Abbie, for Jealousy Points, and because Jenny should still get together with the commando from last season who clearly had heart-eyes for her. Or really, anyone from her past; she had a very plot-specific past that has come in handy a lot, we should get to see her living up the old days sometimes! But now Han Solo Stand-In is blonding around everywhere, and Abbie is in the background barely able to even handle another dude who's a foot taller than she is and is waving sharp-edged paper around:

She's a gift. [More priceless facial expressions, including her Welcome Back Jenny face, over at io9!]
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Published on October 07, 2014 19:23 • 18 views

October 3, 2014

Welcome back to Reign, the show that doesn't care harder than any show has ever not cared! I'm lucky enough to be covering for Caroline at The AV Club for the opening few weeks of the season, which means the bulk of my commentary will be found over here, all official-like, for the moment. (Since it was the first episode of the season and I had to break down all the returning subplots plus remind everyone Leith is Gross Gatsby, it's a monster.)

My unofficial commentary will remain here! And of course, our primary concern is this nerd and the queen who occasionally tolerates him:

Here, technically, she is talking about how they are unprepared for the spread of plague. In reality, we can only assume she's making it clear how weird it is to even look at him after he shaved, as he studiously waits his turn for petty revenge. (Later, when he approaches the throne, Catherine motions the guards to let him through and he looks so gently happy about this restoration of trust after last season; then he joins forces with Mary to poison Catherine a little to get her out of the way, which he thinks is an awesome move to save innocent lives and which he'd better HOPE Catherine never finds out about.)

But the plague not only gave us a chance to rid ourselves of several members of the supporting cast in a single blow! It gave us a huge group scene, which means costume delights and a chance for everyone's subplots to briefly intersect. (Since Mary's marriage she apparently doesn't need help with her clothes any more, which means the handmaidens cross with all the rarity of planetary alignment.)

Kenna cannot even believe she got away with being one of the better-dressed people in any given frame of this show. Behind her we have the usual Ren Faire assortment, a Children of Dune formal robe in dusty blue that I'm into only for the sake of early James McAvoy nostalgia, and then, inexplicably, there's woman in white with an actual late-Elizabethan bodice and neck ruff, which I always thought would make some kind of tear in this show's space-time continuum if it showed up, but I guess not!

These two have perfected their married-couple stinkeye, haven't they? Nice work.

I can just tell this is doomed – increasingly-grizzled kind wealthy feminists do not grow on topiaries – but for now, I will continue to take a little happiness in the fact that this is a couple where she alerts him to shit that could become a misunderstanding if kept secret, and he takes it as a confidence that she feels comfortable telling him rather than berating her for doing stuff. Whenever he's poisoned or suffers a sudden reverse of personality, I will miss him.

(Also, I like this dress on Greer; she often gets the "edgy" looks that no one can quite define except it once included an electric blue faux fur bolero jacket. This is better.)

I even kind of liked this one, despite the distinctly saloon-owner-in-mourning neckline detailing; clearly we're looking at a Settled, Steady Greer, and she shows not an inch of skin. Nothing! The plague or Leith's grimy, embittered touch might reach her then! COVER IT ALL.

And what about Lola, who spent last week giving birth to the baby literally nobody wanted on the show or off it, and spends the episode dealing with Francis throwing tantrums about whether or not he wants to be able to order the baby around in the forseeable future?

Jesus Christ, that is gloom in the form of a dress. When it moves it makes the sad trombone sound. I can't wait for her to get back to court and soak up some of the fight she left behind. Remember when she blackmailed the Queen and is to this day the only person ever to get one over on her without bloodshed? Because I sure remember. I miss her so much. Lola's anger at Francis this episode was some of her best stuff ever, maybe – she has suffered from being the plot's punching bag (flirt with Bash, sleep with Francis, get pregnant, get married, shove his employer's uncle onto the exposed blade of an axe stored neck-high), and if we MUST do this baby bullshit, then let her be angry about it. And frankly, if there were any justice, she'd outmaneuver Mary five times to one.

Which means she'll be taking some lessons from this lady:

Oh Catherine, my Catherine. This is some "I'm the best Goddamn dancer in the American Ballet Academy. Who the hell are you?" Joan Collins mourning formalwear fabulousness.

At the AV Club I talk about the theme of inheritance of power that will clearly be big this season, but Catherine is probably going to win 99% of these fights, because Mary still genuinely doesn't get that wanting to be good doesn't mean you will actually accomplish much. When Francis is reported dead, Catherine immediately makes plans to be Regent for her son, and Mary's just APPALLED that Catherine's trying to hang on to power, and Catherine just looks at her like she's a really insistent cricket and says, "I have only had one instinct, ever, and that is to protect my family and their birthright," and then points out that maybe the country would like some stability after their plague, thanks anyway, bye.

When Mary suggests Francis will support her in her appalled-ness, Catherine can barely even be bothered: "He hasn’t been King yet." This season is not interested in dudes in power:

At all. It's glorious. (PS, this also reads Children of Dune to me; that miniseries absolutely loved revisiting this angle of the throne room to determine who was currently sitting where as power shifted, it was a nicely subtle through-line in a series in which very little else was subtle.)

If this power struggle continues, Mary might actually become something of an interesting character. The show is certainly trying to suggest that; her color palette is sill very black and gold (she wore a lot of that last season), but there's something more sinister about all those shiny headbands these days:

There is a serious Dark Snow White vibe to this dress. Let's see what you do with it, Mary.
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Published on October 03, 2014 08:48 • 21 views

October 2, 2014

So alongside Dream Houses, the novella that will be premiering at Capclave, I have a few stories (and a reprint) that will be available in October! Either they're already out and I've missed them, or they're on their way shortly. I'm collecting them here because there's no way I will remember to do so otherwise.

Earlier this year I participated in two Kickstartered anthology projects. First: Neil Clarke's Upgraded, which should be available now in physical and e-editions! My story, "Small Medicine," is a standalone story, but shares a universe with "The Nearest Thing".

Second: Help Fund My Robot Army!, a Kickstartered anthology of Kickstarters. Some of the pieces in here are very poignant; I drove by all that in a motorcycle that probably has a silver-tipped-arrow-case attached to it and went right for the paranormal mishmash trope bin in "Prima Nocta Detective Agency Needs You."

I also have a story in the most recent New Haven Review: "What Happened, the Winter You Found the Deer" is close to my heart, and I'm so happy it's found this home. (Actual deer illustration is part of the Dream Houses limited edition, but when your two deer-featuring stories come out at once, you just go with it.)

"The Lion Cage" will appear in Nightmare Carnival, edited by Ellen Datlow and currently available for order from the Dark Horse website! (Note that this story, while about a circus, has no ties to Mechanique. I will revisit that world someday; just not in this story.)

My story "Aberration" will appear in Jonathan Strahan's Fearsome Magics, also out in October!

And I have a reprint in movie-themed horror anthology The Cutting Room: Dark Reflections of the Silver Screen: "She Drives the Men to Crimes of Passion!", originally published in Ekaterina Sedia's Bewere the Night. I also wrote an introduction in The Cutting Room, speaking briefly about the reasons cinema works so well as a topic for horror literature.
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Published on October 02, 2014 10:54 • 22 views

October 1, 2014

Sleepy Hollow has given me a marvelous gift. I mean, sure, a second season already awash in intense interpersonal subtext that introduces a Frankenstein monster to fight the bad guys so Ichabod and Abbie can do other plot stuff without constantly shooting at a guy who can't die. That's nice. But really:

RUDY NOBLE is back! I hoped last year that he'd return to be a slightly disgruntled liaison, and he appeared this week as a slightly disgruntled liaison. IT'S ALL HAPPENING.

Other stuff, I guess, was also happening. It was an episode jam-packed with people laying down some hard truths at one another, which I love, and which sets up quite a bit of chewy arguing for the future. At my recap over at io9, someone even got an award for the most hard truths laid down in a thirty-second period. You'll never guess! (You might guess.)

Obviously, as someone who does not care about the historical Macguffins this show is positively littered with, I am all over an episode that emphasizes the interpersonal relationships. I mention it a little at io9 (especially the scene in which Jenny, Ichabod, and Abbie are all separated from each other by the grid of the frame, which is a non-spoilery way of saying how much I loved a shot in which everyone's about to fracture)

In fact, episode director Paul Edwards was all over it, since a lot of shots this week define relationships within a space:

This is a little more visually interesting than everyone at the table, so I'd take it on that alone, but I also like the idea that Abbie's a little separated from the research that's happening there; involved but slightly left out. (Especially since once you hear her confession later, you realize this distance was probably deliberate. I dig.)

Then again, sometimes a nice shot is just a nice shot.

John Noble is John Noble-ing pretty hard this season, and it's only going to get more hilarious. The amount of time this episode spent watching him carefully stick a huge shard of metal into this pen was a very, very long time, and yet I couldn't even bring myself to be curious since I was so busy watching Noble add crags of respectable bad-guy-ness to his face in between takes.

And my other favorite moment of the episode was this lie detector:

Which I absolutely plan to use for any tracking of anyone's relationships I do in future, since that's the best lie detector ever. On the bottom, a hamster heartbeat; on the top, a majestic mountain range. Doesn't get better than this. (I mean, unless you want to see who won the truth sash, in which case, head to io9!
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Published on October 01, 2014 10:52 • 17 views

September 29, 2014

Because I could not ignore this show no matter how much we all wanted to, I have reviewed STALKER at The AV Club. I don't know if the title is intended to be in allcaps all the time, but it suits the tone of the show, so we'll leave it. It is pretty much exactly what you would expect, except with more explicit discussion of why a man's justified in staring at a woman's chest, which was certainly an unexpected B-plot for a pilot, but there we have it. (This is not the first time I have discussed the terrible depiction of persistence-as-romance on TV; I also wrote an essay for them about "The Full Boyle," Brooklyn 99's saddest first-season subplot, which I hope has since been jettisoned forever, because that trope is All Done, thanks.)


Also up at AV Club: my Boardwalk Empire recap for last night's episode, "Cuanto," which had one of my favorite scenes in the last two seasons, and one I always hoped we'd get: a settling of grievances between Nucky and Margaret where they're both able to be honest without descending into the bitterness of the weights they drag with them. And it actually happened, which is almost unspeakably rare on this show. (And no stalking at all, which could have been a serious problem with Nucky involved.) Steve Buscemi and Kelly Macdonald are both fantastic, and together they've been wonderful even when their subplot was grinding its gears; with something this great to work with, they run the gamut of tentative reconnection beautifully. The rest of the episode was either perfunctory or too neat, but sometimes a thing happens on this show and you are just happy to see it. Margaret able to have her say, and Nucky admitting what we've all always known about his savior complex without demanding anything for his generosity, was an important reckoning (in a season that should probably be speeding up with those, actually given that the show now only has four episodes left).


Over at NPR, I reviewed Love is the Drug, the newest YA novel from Alaya Dawn Johnson, that features a pandemic, a sexy loner crush object, and the complex social hierarchies of adolescence, which range from the bluntly stated to the more insidious They Might Think.


And at Strange Horizons, I have a new essay up! "And Was Obliged to Go On Dancing": The Red Shoes and the Chastised Woman discusses the Red Shoes fairy tale in the context of the story’s markers about the humiliation of women to make them more desirable (to God or otherwise), and the ways in which that context has become a standard storytelling tactic, particularly in the modern romcom, in which women that are interested in themselves are humiliated just enough to become more interested in a man's approval. Happy endings all around, I guess. It's strange to think that the most honest adaptation of it I've seen is the utterly astounding children's theater version in which Andersen is a monster who browbeats Karen into begging for forgiveness for the sake of an emotionless doll who's been punished and punished and punished. If you can find it online, where I'm sure it's floating around, it's every bit as amazing as it sounds; of all the things I've brought with me from childhood, that one never loses its power. (Hilariously, it is probably not particularly suitable for children.)

And the idea of humiliating and torturing women for entertainment brings things right back around to STALKER, so I'll just wrap with this lead quote that didn't make it into the final review, from Kevin Williamson's TCA press event for the show. During an answer in which he mentioned he looked forward to the storyline in which one of the protagonists is a stalker: "There’s more reveals to come with that storyline, and it will be fun to sort of watch when does he cross the line. We all can be stalkers. We’ve all stalked someone at one time."
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Published on September 29, 2014 12:10 • 26 views

September 24, 2014

X-Files Lite classic nonsense plot machine Sleepy Hollow came back last night!

Group hug. (This is the version of Ichabod that Moloch generated in Purgatory to confuse her and trick her into staying forever; he liked hugging her as much as the other Ichabod likes hugging her. It's just that kind of show.)

My io9 recaps have, accordingly, also come back. I was barely able to keep up with all the shenanigans this week, because while they thought the Purgatory fake-out in the cold open was awesome, it also wasted all the time they could have spent on things like Abbie and the dollhouse of her childhood projections who might have been of some use, and instead went right to the part where Benjamin Franklin's magical key could get her out of purgatory so run for it RUN RUN COMMERCIALS ARE COMING JUST RUN. (Technically I guess that is a spoiler for the episode, but one of the best things about the show is that it's almost impossible to spoil anything because it's all such a goof palace that you could describe the episode blow-by-blow to someone and they would still have to experience the shirtless Headless Horseman pausing to give Katrina a look at the goods for themselves to really get it. This show is spoilerproof.)

I do worry slightly that, since we've apparently moved beyond the personal angst of the first season, we'll be losing the version of Abbie that's Dealing With Stuff, which is a shame, because her best moments last season often involved the slightly more dramatic material. (Her scene with Corbin in the second episode of last season where she's trying to be super-practical through her tears is still one of my favorites.) I mean, I enjoy some funtimes mugging as much as the next person, but I'm not sure I'd like a show that was all that, all the time.

That said, her utterly Over It summoning over Hell's telephone – "Ichabod Crane" delivered in the most disgusted tone you can imagine – was pretty good.

And in fairness to her, this is the guy she was summoning, so I can understand her being a little concerned about him. (The crossbow has a laser sight. He uses it to fire on the Horseman after Abbie spends both her enormous guns' worth of consecrated rounds. He does the drop-and-roll to reach the shelter of a huge stuffed armchair. Welcome back, show.)

And now that they've firmly established themselves in the bitching-about-Founding-Fathers milieu, I hope they can expand their list of tropes and do some experimenting. We're already there, if you ask me.

I mean, you can tell me this is not a Legend shout-out with imaginary Tangerine Dream soundtrack. I am not going to believe you.
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Published on September 24, 2014 08:27 • 31 views

September 19, 2014

Opening titles, from Art of the Title

This weekend is the last before the rush of fall shows. Let's all breathe it in for a second. Monday, Sleepy Hollow returns to us, and I'll be recapping them at io9 with screencaps at the ready! For those who want to catch up, the recaps for season one are right here, complete with a truly embarrassing number of screencaps of their height difference, their priceless reaction shots, and the many dozens of creepy locations that are apparently just sitting around in Sleepy Hollow and no one ever thought twice about before all the demons showed up. (Oh show, I cannot wait for Monday, come back soon.)

October 2, Reign returns, and I'll be covering it at AV Club for some weeks at the start of the season; I promise I'll be recording the fashion as best I can over here, no matter what thematic quagmires we find ourselves wading through over at AVC. Also over here: our running tally of people Catherine tries to poison, which I will forever regret not doing for season one, because the bottle episode alone was like 12 dudes.

Not all shows are waiting for the fall, though; Boardwalk Empire began its fifth and final season two weeks ago, and is moving forward in literal leaps and bounds, as it jumped six years in the future and is trying to wrap everything up in only eight episodes this time around, which is not an easy gig with a cast this big, a time jump this significant, and a deliberate pace that tends to let its subplots unfurl like the fronds of a delicate fern that's packing like three guns.

The season premiere, "Golden Days for Boys and Girls," was solid but not as sharp as it could have been; last week's episode, "The Good Listener," managed to juggle about eight subplots very gracefully in forming a larger picture of a moment in time, which is one of the things this show, at its best, does beautifully. It was an episode of people desperately trying ti wriggle out from under the powers that hold them.

This is probably not the end of television stuff I can't stop talking about; we've barely gotten into how The Quest managed to turn some really rocky game theory and some truly amazing semi-impromptu acting into the goofiest feel-good competitive reality TV ending ever. Until then, though, it's Boardwalk and Sleepy Hollow for me!
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Published on September 19, 2014 09:06 • 26 views

September 11, 2014

A couple of announcements! First, if I have not announced it already: I'll be a Guest of Honor at Capclave this October, alongside Holly Black and Paolo Bacigalupi!

The convention is the weekend of October 10. When not heckling Holly from the audience of whatever panels she's doing, I hope to be talking about movies, TV, writing as a day job, and whatever else they decide to ask me and/or I can't stop talking about.

I'll also have a special project on sale there: my first-ever novella, DREAM HOUSES. It will be a limited print edition, the first 250 of which will be signed. (Cover below; I dig the art, but that '70s space-movie tagline may or may not be my favorite part.)

It takes a certain type to crew a ship that drops you seven years at a time into the Deep. Kite-class cargo ships like Menkalinan get burned-out veterans, techs who’ve been warned off-planet, medics who weren’t much good on the ground. The Gliese-D run isn’t quite the end of the line, but it’s getting there. No cachet, no rewards, no future; their trading posts get Kites full of cargo that the crew never ask questions about, because if it’s headed for Gliese-D, it’s probably something nobody wanted.

A year into the Deep, Amadis Reyes wakes up. Menkalinan is sounding the alarm; something’s wrong. The rest of the crew are dead.

That’s not even what’s wrong.

It's SF about survival, space, motets, and deer, and I'm very excited to share it with you.
Online pre-orders are available at the WSFA Press site. (For those who prefer their books in pixels, I hope to have some news soon about a possible e-edition!)

And for those coming to Capclave, I'll see you there!
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Published on September 11, 2014 09:07 • 80 views

September 1, 2014

The list of celebrities who had their pictures stolen numbers over seventy-five. Some of them aren't even capitalized; not names, really. They're just folders where the prizes go.

Jennifer Lawrence is on the list. Perez Hilton posted those, for those who might otherwise have had trouble finding them fast enough. The question went out quick on its heels: Is her career over?


Being a woman with any degree of public life in the age of social media is to be constantly sandblasted; you know the sand was always there, but the sheer force and volume with which it hits you isn't something you can ever get used to. You have to brace yourself to turn on your computer; stepping out your door becomes a thing you have to armor against.

Many of them are such small things, but there are so, so many, and there are always more.

It's suggested, often, that women develop thicker skins; before that can happen, of course, the sandblasting would have to stop.


This week, Anita Sarkeesian put out a new video in her series on Tropes vs Women in Video Games, dealing with women as wallpaper in the context of being the victims of violence, to set a gritty scene or serve as motivation for the hero to find the bad guy. In Assassin's Creed, we follow a fleeing villain through the city; if you time it right and stay far enough away not to engage, he'll kill as many prostitutes as he has to just to get your attention.

It brought on possibly the greatest-yet volley from gamers who took offense to the idea that displaying the sexualized bodies of women victims was wrong. The argument quickly solidified into "It's just video games, they're not real, and they're only reflecting real-life violence, so it's the world that's the problem," delivered in what one has to imagine is a ceaseless pterodactyl screech of ruined fun.

Some accused her of cherry-picking her examples (from twenty-five games). Others called out factual errors. Regarding Mafia 2: Joe's Adventures, someone pointed out that Sarkeesian had been misrepresenting the scene in which the men have a firefight over the body of a dead pole dancer; the description was, he insisted, because the player must kill her and drag her body to the stage before the firefight can even begin.

I looked for that comment again. I didn't find it, but there were several search results.

One, a YouTube tip on game play: "you have to kill her then you can rob the store".

Another, a list of "10 Hot Exotic Dancers in Videogames." (The Mafia 2 ladies come midway through the rankings, beneath the women in Yakuza 3: "They’re not the prettiest and aren't great dancers but they’ll get the job done!")

Another, a link to a topic on a gaming-questions website: "Why can't I beat women in this game?"


An excerpt from Helen Garner's This House of Grief:

"Having recently watched a bunch of blokes pour a concrete slab in my own backyard, I was equipped to imagine the effect of this sight in Cindy Farquarson's stifling situation. A concrete pour is a dramatic process. It demands skill, speed, strength, and the confident handling of machinery; and it is so intensely, symbolically masculine that every woman and boy in the vicinity is drawn to it in excited respect. Spellbound on the back veranda between my two grandsons, I remembered Camille Paglia's coat-trailing remark that if women were running the world, we'd still be living in grass huts. "


From Phil Blankenship on Twitter, a Facebook screencap of someone using the name Daniel Del Pozzo.

"If you call yourself my friend, you will send me links to the pictures with Jennifer Lawrence, Victoria Justice, Ariana Grande (even though she claims they are fake) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead...oh and I also heard Emma Stone was one. Please and thank you."

He's updated the post with those he's seen, as if to reassure everyone it isn't as if he's gross, he's not greedy about it; he's just choosing off a menu, that's all.


The last line on the screencapped list of stolen pictures reads, "plus a show of alison brie and dave franco." He's the only guy whose name appears on the list; it's a content warning, in case you don't want a guy to ruin the fantasy.


Anita Sarkeesian received what is apparently the usual number of death threats upon release of this latest video. Some, however, were so violently specific that she alerted police, made them public, and left her home. (Those threats are screencapped here, though all possible trigger warning apply.)

Some gamers accused her of making these up. They threatened to kill her for it.


Some people have replied to the celebrities directly on Twitter, a sandblast of shame. What did they expect, taking photos on their personal phones intended only for the recipients? Privacy? Then this serves them right, apparently, somehow.

A screencap by @scotchka, of tweets sent to Mary Elizabeth Winstead since deleted from somoene whose handle begins @JohnnyMP:

"You deserved this because a girl like you would never date me in real life no matter how nice and courteous I was. Karma!"

"Sorry but it's not fair that only the guys of your choosing get to see the photos while the ugly, less fortunate guys do not."


Sonia Saraiya is a TV editor at AV Club, (where, for the sake of disclosure, I write TV reviews). Recently, one commenter went through four years of her Twitter and Tumblr to pull comments critical of white men, linked the resulting graphic in the comments at AV Club, and agitated for her to lose her job.

There are a dozen comments in the image (helpfully titled "Sonia's views on race" and assembled in what seems to be a frenzy of beginner Freudian design). It's not clear, due to the design, if all of them are hers, or where they're from. Some are small, clustered together as if to downplay the effort that must have gone into finding them all. Some are displayed prominently and centrally; the prizes. (The comments are not particularly important; the important thing is to remind her she's being watched.)

The centerpiece, large and offset with framing clips in dark gray that draw attention to this as a significant offense: "let's talk about how done i am with straight white men trying to explain things to me about GoT or anything else, really"

She didn't say it; a minor detail.


If Jennifer Lawrence had done a sex scene, her nudity would have been the talk of the press junket; they would have asked how she prepared, how much she dieted (of course she would have dieted, and of course it would come up - the size of her body has been public discourse for a while). Maybe they'd ask what her parents thought, but maybe she's old enough now that it's off the list of questions worth asking. Someone would have called up Mystique, and made a makeup joke.

It would be considered one of the many career milestones of a promising actress. The Academy Award gives her the protection to do the occasional nude scene; doing a nude scene can lead to the protection of an Academy Award, but it's a longer shot. Better to have the statue first.

If Jennifer Lawrence had done a nude scene, it would have been a performance. We would all have seen her body, gotten the usual thrill that accompanies the concept, and been finished.

Of course, it would be overanalyzed and screencapped and fetishized by everything from thinspo blogs to porn sites. But it would not have been as appealing as this crime is, now, to the people to whom it appeals. These photos are in demand because they are a thing she did for herself that got stolen from her. That's the draw. That's the prize.


A headline in the Telegraph, this week: "Mother of three poised to lead the BBC".


Since the stolen pictures were announced, they've apparently been the subject of discussion on a subreddit; The Fappening has begun tracking access problems to the "latest release."

Neetzan Zimmerman tweeted a screenshot of the announcement that the photos had been made unavailable:

The central comment:

"This is the fork in the road.

Reddit is officially a censorship based website.

No more free speech for us."


Jennifer Lawrence's career is not over. Scarlett Johansson's career wasn't over when her nude pictures were stolen. The advantage of being able to afford legal teams is that you can redress wrongs committed against you.

What she can't get back, of course, is the feeling that any part of her is safe from criminal commodification. As a public figure, it's considered a serious possibility that being the victim of theft might endanger her career. As a private citizen – well, she isn't now, is she? That's gone.

That's the appeal of the photos, of course. Photoshops of Playboy models with Jennifer Lawrence's head pasted on wouldn't be nearly worth what these are worth. The act of violation is what makes the results so valuable; they're in demand because she made them for herself, and you can take that from her just by looking.

The lawyers will shut down the distribution, but that's hardly the point.

Women are being watched. Women are never safe. The goal is always to strip you, of anything, of everything; the hunt is on.

Tomorrow morning, step outside.
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Published on September 01, 2014 15:11 • 233 views

August 26, 2014

[Before we get to current fashion, I have an article at The Toast about Victorian rational dress and cycling, "I don't think I'll venture on dual garmenture".]

Ah, the Emmys. The Emmys can mean a lot of things. An evening to honor the year’s most awardable TV shows based on a complicated rubric in which actual quality is often way down the list; a way for designers and stylists to begin the complicated mating dance that will eventually culminate in the Oscars – or, for a lucky few, the Met Costume Institute Gala. For us at home, it's a chance to celebrate the increasingly murky TV/movie divide, and get early hints about what the Stylists' Guild has in mind for us in the coming red carpet season, just like whatever the first vegetables are that bloom in a season of however long growing stuff takes, I know shockingly little about vegetables.

It was, by and large, a lovely and tasteful year on the red carpet for the Emmys, an awards ceremony in which almost everyone has realized the cost-benefit analysis of hiring whoever needs hiring to make you look effortlessly, fashionably employable. I appreciate that. I also appreciate everyone who showed up looking slightly ridiculous, because they serve a useful purpose, just like things in a vegetable patch that provide shade and whatever even though they're probably poisonous.

Let's run down this red carpet.

My pick for look of the night: Robin Wright showed up in a long-sleeve faux-tux backless pantsuit and no jewelry, and it looked damn good. (Yes, she has that weird hem red carpet pants so often do where it looks like your legs are just tubes instead of having feet and shoes, but ugh, look at this, it's a pass.)

But honestly, it was a tough call this year. Deco looks poised to be a huge trend this red carpet season, so a lot of people looked pretty great.


Amanda Crew, whose work I had to look up because I've never watched an episode of Silicon Valley, in what is a serious contender for my look of the night. The t-shirt formal is a tricky but rewarding silhoutte, and the creeping Deco ivy of her embellishment is gorgeous without taking over the lines of of the dress. It's like the most beautiful silver filigree wedding dish in the world, and I love it.

Taissa Farmiga. God help me, I think this dress is so fantastically, fascinatingly oddball that I love it impossibly much. It's like a horror move broke out during a bridal shower, neck-first. What a delight.

Lizzy Caplan, whose dress was a gorgeous, chic black cutout dress, and a white train that honestly did nothing for the rest of the silhouette except to declare that she was prepared to walk all the way up to that podium with all that white trailing behind her and pick up a freaking Emmy if she got even a sliver of a chance to do it. I'm not sure if she ever really thought she had a chance, but I like to think this operated as a pysch-out on her way across the red carpet. There will be another season of Masters of Sex, and oh, Lizzy Caplan will be ready.

Melissa McCarthy, who I always love when she goes slightly starker on the red carpet, and whose dress manages to carry several textures in harmony.

Kate McKinnon, whose dress I am way into even if I am not 100% certain of the logistics of the lining in the vest.

Allison Tolman, in a lovely ball gown in a delightful color for her, whose stylists have made me realize the evergreen problems of a one-shoulder dress with long hair if you want to leave some of it down. Does it meet the shoulder of your dress, creating an unbroken line that, if someone played around with the settings on her graphics program late at night when she should have been asleep, looks like her hair has melted onto her dress into one Godiva mass? One would think not, but to move it to the opposite shoulder ruins the empty-shoulder effect you want from a one-shoulder gown in the first place! And yet why half-down hair instead of a soft updo that would give you the best of both shoulders? I need a decision tree on this, there is a lot going on.

Mayim Bialik, going Liz the First But With Attached Pockets in a my favorite shade of purple (that shade of purple is Essentially Blue), and a ferns-and-daises lace that's kind of better the more of it there is, which is not something you can say about all laces.

Amy Poehler, to whom the phrase "What if it was Deco but super casual, with like, sexy beach hair?" was palpably uttered.

Julianna Marguiles, who clearly knew on her way in that she was walking away with the statue.

Michelle Dockery. I love the shape and drape of this dress so much, and the pink and the blue are both stunning. (The green's a harder sell, but the look still works.)

Christine Baranski, in my favorite cape.

Kim Dickens, who approaches everything with the all-business mein you secretly hope for from Kim Dickens, is wearing this dress like it's the most utilitarian possible dress for reasons that aren't your business, and there's a bangle belt around her waist and a clutch in her hand and she's supposed to be showing them both off so here they are, shiny, doing just what they're shined here to do.

A lot of the women on the carpet belonged to a single show that the Emmys quietly ignored!


Laverne Cox, in an honest-to-god Wonder Woman formal dress. (I did not think I would have to qualify this, but I have to: of all the drape-capes that appeared on the red carpet last night, it's my second favorite.)

Uzo Aduba, looking fantastic, though if we are being honest I could do without the chiffon ruffly bit on the mermaid tail. Still, it's an amazing look. Also a good reference for when someone says "The bangle bracelet makes the outfit really sing" and you think "How can a bracelet possibly do that much work?" And yet, here we are.

Kate Mulgrew, whose subdued dress and amazingly careless sheer sleeves look straight-up like she's here for a Tony, somehow. (Not a bad thing.)

Samira Wiley, in the Lemon Curd version of the Original Barbie Dress we will be seeing a lot this evening, and which will never be my favorite silhouette, but it's a stunning color on her even if the seams look like points of articulation on a formal-event action figure.

Danielle Brooks, lover of geometric lace, wearer of a skirt whose slit was one design element too many.

Taylor Schilling, whose dress was a nicely Deco beige business until she started talking about how her clutch only had a phone in it because there was a team of people assigned to carry the stuff she actually had to use later, with the unspoken subtext that it both amused and quietly frightened her, so she's still wearing a nicely Deco beige business, but she's well, well aware.

Laura Prepon, in a gorgeous color, and a silhouette that thanks to Project Runway the nation already knows as "overworked."

Natasha Lyonne, in a dress that felt less like its own dress than a Kate Mulgrew Practice Dress, somehow, and that's just fine.

Not to be outdone, Game of Thrones sent every woman it could find who had the time, either from hiatus or from being killed already.


Lena Headey always dresses like the head of a vaguely post-apocalyptic punk enclave who has to dress well because the punk enclave demands it but who has clearly barely ground out her cigarette butt on the hand of a willing underling before the picture was taken. I adore it.

Sibel Kekilli, looking elegant and lovely, and reminding us that the bangle belt is happening all around us.

Rose Leslie, who is being amazing in Utopia and I hope we can all start officially talking about it soon, in a way I don't really feel like saying much about this dress, except that the very-close colorblocking combined with her hair looks slightly like a really fancy drowned ghost, and I'm into it.

Natalie Dormer, in a very interesting dress whose lines and colorblocking are interesting even if things seme to get a little murky past the knees, literally cannot stop making this face. I have four pictures of her from different points on the carpet both posed and candid, and she is either making this face or caught in the desperate effort to make this face as quickly as possible before the shutter goes off. From an objective standpoint I suppose we can all admire that level of commitment to a shtick, and you might as well, since she's never stopping.

In terms of trends in color, the red carpet saw more white than the Emmy winners themselves (TIMELY)!


Sofia Vergara, Eyebrow-Raising Platform Spinnee, is almost always in a bombshell dress. Less often is she wearing the gown of Arachne Venomina, Queen of the Space Spiders, and suddenly that seems a shame, because why wouldn't you?

Angela Bassett, who looks stunning even (especially?) if that's gold braid on her cuffs.

Anna Chlumsky, in another great '30s throwback, and the facial expression of someone who's just realized she dressed to match the Emmys photo wall and there's nothing she can do about it now.

Michelle Monaghan, who went Full Bacall for this red carpet and then added the world's shiniest spike heels, which are both so fabulous and so uncomfortable I'm afraid to look right at them.

Lucy Liu, whose dress is almost amazing except right in the bodice region, where things begin to look like she decided to do a quick plaster cast of herself so it could dry in the sun.

Retta, wearing a perfect accent sash and an overskirt that looks like sheer curtains from the honeymoon suite, which, if you must, is the very nicest place from which to snag your sheer curtains.

But it wasn't the only standout color on the carpet!


Julia Louis-Dreyfus, whose kiss bit with Bryan Cranston was funnier than the entire season of Modern Family that won the award last night, has made a red-carpet habit of wearing perfectly nice dresses that pretend to nothing else – usually not overly fussy, overly shiny, overly anything. It's a good game plan when you're in it for the long haul. I love the little details on this that make it interesting; the necklace and pleated top look perfect together, and do what my grandmother told me and must have also told Julia every dress should do, and draw attention to your lovely face.

Octavia Spencer, who is wearing a perfectly lovely dress with most of another perfectly lovely dress draped on top of it for no particular reason, but who cuts so fine a figure that I'll just assume the beads fell off the bottom dress in the cab and woodland creatures descended with the chiffon business to help out.

Christin Hendricks, whose dress has some outstanding embroidery, whose ears have some outstanding earrings, and whose silhouette suffers from Red Carpet Action Figture Articulation right above the knee.

January Jones, who is so done she's delivering this dress-wearing performance from space, in a dress that benefits enormously from a high-low hemline lined in black to frame a pair of questionable witch shoes, and which, in a year of Deco influence, does not benefit at all from looking like it's made out of Deco couch fabric.

Claire Danes; once I would have tried to like this dress and its busy necklace and its oddly loose studded evening belt, but it's just never going to work, just like Claire Danes for me.

Mindy Kaling, another victim of Red Carpet Action Figure Articulation Effect.


Small, but necessary.

Debra Messing, who will not be wearing this dress for long once she starts playing a woman whose life involves being a cop who is also attempting to raise children, SIMULTANEOUSLY.

And Kate Walsh, sunniest mermaid of them all, who will be playing a woman who is also attempting to be a judge, SIMULTANEOUSLY.

Truly, it's a golden age.

And speaking of golden, every year a few people decide they're going to dress in something that's a pile of nonsense just to give people like me something to talk about, and I appreciate it so, so much.


Kiernan Shipka. The the thing is, this dress looks amazing...from one angle. At this angle it looks like she's cosplaying the Fortress of Solitude with a single belt that's already fallen off in back so she's pinned her arms to her sides to try to keep it on until judging..

Sarah Paulson, bravely soldiering on through a seasonal attack by a swarm of laser pointers.

Viola Davis. I love the color, but that bodice is literally Golden Girls material, so this dress could not go anywhere else.

Color amazing. Neckline, perfect. The rest? Remember the Borrowers, where they would make dresses out of hair bows and everything and the scale was always way off because they were tiny people and the velvet hair bows of the world were so super big? Yeah. Anyway, here's Allison Janney.

Kate Mara. I've begun to find it comforting that wherever there's a red carpet, Kate Mara will show up there in a dress that inevitably looks like it perished of acidic sadness on its way onto her body.

Kaley Kuoco, who honestly just has to be kidding me.

Look at Lena Dunham's face, though. She knows. She knows. This Fauntleroy haircut and melting-pipe-cleaner ombre? It's on purpose. She will MAKE you look.

Julia Roberts, whose dress has contracted the kind of maritime buildup that usually only boats get.

Anna Gunn in what is, for reasons only she can know, an exact replica of one someone wore to Homecoming my freshmen year of high school, when everyone involved was fourteen years old, and even then it seemed a little twee.

Katherine Heigl, the fanciest ambassador the 1701-D has ever hosted.

Kerry Washington, wearing a Magic Eye dress that's trimmed so she looks like the glitter outline of a 2D paper doll.

Julie Bowen, wearing a Magic Eye dress that's the embodiment of how everyone feels about the show she's on.

And Betsy Brandt. Sure, the show might have been almost impossibly bleak in its final season, but Brandt wanted to make sure we could all end on a laugh, and I respect that. She didn't wear this dress for herself, okay? She wore this dress for all of us.
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Published on August 26, 2014 13:03 • 241 views

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