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You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages

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3.91  ·  Rating details ·  820 ratings  ·  137 reviews
In this smart, funny, impassioned call to arms, a pop culture critic merges memoir and commentary to explore how our culture shapes ideas about who women are, what they are meant to be, and where they belong.Who is "the girl"? Look to movies, TV shows, magazines, and ads and the message is both clear and not: she is a sexed up sidekick, a princess waiting to be saved, a mo ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 8th 2017 by Mariner Books
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Thomas
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

A whip-smart essay collection about how we portray women in movies, TV shows, magazines, and more, as well as how women learn to internalize and emulate these portrayals. Carina Chocano does an amazing job discussing the problematic ways women's stories get told, ranging form how women face objectification and sexualization, to how women always end up in marriages no matter how fierce or strong they seem, to how we glorify youth and innocence and slight playfulness in women and devalue
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Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell

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This author's name sounded familiar to me, which was odd - because as far as I knew, I hadn't read any of her works. Netgalley strikes again! As it turns out, Carina Chocano had published an essay in another feminist book I read recently, called NASTY WOMEN. The essay, titled "We Have a Heroine Problem" was about the Madonna/whore lens with which we view women in the public eye, except it's more like the paragon/demon complex (my name, BTW)
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Chris
August 2017 My Book Box Non-Fiction Selection
Recently, I watched part of Keeping Up with the Jones. It’s a movie about a suburban couple whose new neighbors turn out to be spies/special agents/CIA something or other. It has a good cast, and there were parts that were quite funny. I didn’t watch all of it, however, because it soured. The two men become buds, in fact the movie is really a bromance despite the couples, but the two women nope. In fact, the suburban wife dislikes the spy woman even
...more
AJ
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
You can also find this review at https://booksbestfriendblog.wordpress...

Note: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Similar to Bad Feminist, I often found myself nodding in agreement as I read You Play the Girl. For example, I also felt the same way as Chocano after watching Trainwreck. Why did Amy’s character think there was something wrong with her? Why did she have to use her father’s mistakes to justify her own life? Couldn’t she have both enjoyed having fun wi
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Laurie
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Carina Chocano is the essay writer I wish I was. She examines how pop culture treats women and girls- and how it affects us. From Katherine Hepburn and how her image had to be toned down for people to accept her movies; ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ and ‘Bewitched’ (how two insanely powerful women constantly deferred to men); to the huge Disney princess phenomena wherein a princess is someone to be saved by a man or presented to a man. ‘Desperate Housewives’, ‘Real Housewives’, ‘Desperately Seeking Susan ...more
Laura
Very nearly a 5 so I rounded up for how much reassurance and joy this book brought me. I will expand on this soon.
Michelle
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
“You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks and Other Mixed Messages” is a four part book of well written and analytical essays of various cultural themes. Popular films, books, articles and famous people and events are added and highlight author Carina Chocano’s stories and observations. Chocano, a journalist and storyteller takes pride in the creative thinking process, her short stories and articles have been featured in several notable publications including the NYT, ...more
Lexi Goyette
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Overall, this was a fast read for anyone looking to think critically about the media we consume on a daily basis. Movies like Pretty Women, Knocked Up, Thelma and Louise, The Stepford Wives... TV shows like Mad Men, The Bachelor, Inside Amy Schumer... All are dissected and analyzed critically. Carina Chocano had a career as a movie critic. Almost every essay uses TV/film examples to illuminate her thoughts.

Here's what I didn't like...

1. Chocano paints a vivid picture of the roles assigned
...more
Cynthia
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Chicano's focus on women's issues fills me with hope, and some anger. She explores the state of our lives through popular books, movies, and happenings and she does it with literary skill and always a sense of humor and fun which helps when the reader's gut reaction is likely anger or even helplessness. I last had the sense of being in the presence of someone who's wise years ago,when I read Faludi's Backlash and Wolf's Beauty Myth though neither of those women had he same joie de vivre that Chi ...more
Spencer Tierney
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Chocano takes the reader through a fast-paced yet precise history of roles women have played over time in real life and on screen & in texts, seamlessly showing the parallels between the literal and the symbolic worlds. There's even a brief history of the waves of feminism told through movies. She's a brilliant essayist and cultural critic, with strong one-liners, poignant questions, and a masterful way of weaving personal anecdotes, literary analysis, groundbreaking legislation, film review ...more
Jason Diamond
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This has been a great year for essay collections and this one is at the top of the heap. "Celebrity Gossip" is easy one of the best pieces of cultural criticism I've read this year.
Lisa Mcbroom
Chocano writes a memoir of her puberty and how events in pop culture shaped her as a person.
Julie
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned
This book started out strong. I was entranced and horrified by my own ignorance, and this book was going to help me see past the wool covering my eyes.

Then, it got...different. It stopped being an empowering look at how women are manipulated, or how many of us have forgotten our own history, and felt bitter and meandering.

Quite a few pieces of the essays read to me like they'd been shoved in sideways to bulk up the text rather than written because that was where they belonged. For instance, on
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gaargly
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Life-changing, though fails to often (or ever?) talk about race. Still, I feel relief and validation from reading how a woman cultural critic also feels angry and disappointed by pop culture. I learned the terminology for a feeling I often have when watching movies and television -- "symbolic annihilation". I am symbolically destroyed when characters who look like me are either never there, or represented as tropes, with very little of what makes us real.
Paul
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliantly written series of essays that made me glad I don't participate in popular culture and wonder why the author does.
Becky
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
An analysis of feminism in pop culture.

Have you ever watched a movie that made you feel icky for some reason that you can't precisely identify? This author can describe the reason, clearly and articulately. And spoiler alert, it's usually because the movie sends a pretty messed up message about women.

Movies discussed include Flashdance, Pretty Woman, Desperately Seeking Susan, Stepford Wives, Fatal Attraction, Knocked Up, Lars & the Real Girl, Frozen, and others. Don't get me wrong, I like
...more
Heather
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is the bomb.com. First off, Carina is a phenomenal writer with a cutting, eagle eye view of things. She's also super funny, there were times I would be eating while reading this book and nearly suck my food down my windpipe from laughing.

One of my favorite aspects of her essays was that she continually weaves in the story of her young daughter Kira's experiences absorbing advertising and movies at such a tender age. An excerpt from the book after she and Kira had passed a city bus wit
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Leslie Lehr
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for women who love the movies, their daughters, or just themselves. Which is a good place to start. This is a book of essays that combine a personal and public perspective on women and all that influences us. Meaning, men.
If you've ever seen a tree fort with a sign that says No Girls, this is for you. It is not a feminist book, it is a book for everyone. Sure you can highlight passages and tweet them (like I did), but you can also dip in and out just enough to avoid throwing it ac
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Julie lit pour les autres
Ça m'a pris bien du temps à passer au travers des essais de Chocano en raison de mon cerveau qui a pris temporairement la forme d'un fromage gruyère.

L'auteure s'intéresse à la représentation de la femme dans la culture populaire - que ce soit au cinéma, à la télé, dans le Playboy - et décortique les messages sous-jacents. De façon plus personnelle, elle s'interroge sur l'effet de ces messages sur les femmes et sur sa fillette. Certains essais sont très accessibles et assez provocateurs - dont c
...more
Kerry
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gender-feminism
It's been a long while since a book of essays could hold my interest (and continue to impress me) page after page. This book takes a look at how representations of women (and men) in pop culture reflect ideologies and values and reiterates the thought that many feminists have had: why aren't we beyond this yet, and how could I take it for granted that we were? Chocano's realization that, once you see how few strides have been made and how women's stories play out in pop culture, you cannot unsee ...more
Katie
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: girl-power
I absolutely loved this book and I HIGHLY recommend it! It was by far one of my favorite reads of the year. You Play the Girl by Carina Chocano is a collection of feminist essays dissecting our popular culture. Chocano analyzes the insidious social prescriptions hidden in everything from Disney princesses movies to Flash Dance to Pretty Woman. We are the movies, books and culture we consume. Chocano examines how we are shaped by a culture that repeatedly tells us that women are not full humans w ...more
Penny
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am overwhelmed with love for Carina Chocano’s essay collection. I highlighted, annotated, and reframed my thinking about women in film (and TV) over and over. So smart and funny and heartbreaking. I know I will return to this book again and again.
Lucy
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love picking my way through essay and short story collections a little at a time (bath reading) and this one was a solid read. It made me think, hard, about the messages I see and ignore everyday and the impacts they have. A smart read and one I enjoyed a little at a time.
Kristin Boldon
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, borrowed
Really enjoyed this dive into cultural depictions of girls and women. It makes me reconsider some things I formerly liked (Trainwreck), affirms sokme things I liked more than others (Ghostbusters) and makes me want to watch some new stuff (Doll and Em)
Tessy Consentino
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thought provoking essays. I loved Big Mouth Strikes Again and Celebrity Gothic.
paige
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Feminist pop culture writing. Say no more. Really liked this. The best combination of super smart and a little trashy.
Dc
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
i checked this book out from the library. i feel like i'll be giving a bit of me away when i return it. i won't rest until i have a copy of my own that i can underline & memorize. this book is BOMB.
Maddie Gretzky
I’ve read a lot of feminist essays, but this was one of the best. Chocano approaches familiar subjects (and not just familiar as pop culture, but familiar as a topic of feminist study) in a new way that reveals new insights.
Sarah White
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thought-provoking collection of essays on pop culture with a feminist emphasis. May make you hate Dirty Dancing.
Dani
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You Play The Girl

Page xxii- "Women's experience in its entirety seemed contained in that remark, not to mention several of the stages of feminist grief: the shock of waking up to the fact that the world does not also belong to you; the shame at having been so naive as to have thought it did; the indignation, depression, and despair that follow this realization; and finally, the marshaling of the handy coping mechanisms, compartmentalization, pragmatism, and diminished expectations."

Page 16- "And
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“But alas, I'd have to find a way to be opinionated without being too opinionated, authoritative without being a bitch about it, smart without being elitist, fair without being a pushover. If the boyfriends of my youth found me too authoritative when I should have been cheering on the sidelines as they kicked and tossed and smacked balls toward the vanguard, the male colleagues of my adulthood kept reminding me of my lack of authority as they unconsciously displayed theirs. I was always failing someone's standards of legitimacy, as a girlfriend, as a producer of opinions. It was an eternal no-win. I was always too big or too small, like Alice, and forever being told, in one way or another, 'Eat me.” 2 likes
“Strategic girls manage perception; idealistic girls go up against the narrative, because it’s at the root of the problem, and they get crushed every time.” 2 likes
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