Staunchly, vol. 48: Miranda for Governor

(Originally posted: 3/9/18)

Happy Friday buds & babes, 
Cynthia Nixon’s potential run for governor of New York has me rethinking my retirement from electoral politics. Cuomo has been a disappointment, and his dismissal of Nixon as a lame celebrity lacking in both agency and civic sophistication was obnoxious and frankly sexist. Plus, I think we could all use a break from dynastic politics and shady leaders who protect misbehaving men, right? 
As a society, we are firmly in a Miranda cultural moment right now. Politics would be smart to catch up.

We’ll see if Nixon actually ends up running, but in the meantime I’m having a fun time reimagining Miranda’s iconic lines as campaign slogans: 




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Here’s everything you need to know about the inclusion rider Frances McDormand mentioned in her Oscar speech, which was really the only interesting part of the whole ceremony besides Tiffany and Maya, who should emcee everything from the Academy Awards to the Westminster Dog Show to my forthcoming adult bat mitzvah.
I thought Kimmel was perfectly charming and capable as a host, but somehow the show felt anti-climactic and soggy. It hit all the notes, but without any pizzazz. Mark Harris in Vulture likened it to “watching figure skating, but the compulsories, not the free felt defined by determination rather than inspiration.” I guess it was too much to expect that the momentum of a truly batshit year in Hollywood would carry into the industry’s annual (at least consensual) circle jerk…Here’s hoping that people at least wear interesting outfits next year. Angela Bassett can’t do it all by herself.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

In addition to inclusion riders, here are four other ways Hollywood can meaningfully support women artists (and another, more holistic one: make good movies).
It’s worth mentioning that my boyfriend Michael B. Jordan became the first major star to adopt the inclusion rider. He makes me so proud to be the greatest most radiant love of his life (his words).
The New York Times announced a new project to publish obituaries for women it overlooked in its nearly 170 years of circulation. The first installment features Ida B. Wells, Sylvia Plath, and Bollywood legend Madhubala, and had me in tears. Given my very robust dose of Prozac, this is not an insignificant feat.
Make time for those obits but also make time to recognize the extraordinary work of women who are still very much alive and doing cool things. Maybe start with this amazing interview on the aesthetics of Afrofuturism with Ruth E. Carter, the costume designer on Black Panther.
On the subject of women who are alive: you should be reading more contemporary fiction written by women. Here are 10 books to read by dynamic, warm-blooded women (instead of 10 by Dead Old White Men), and 15 more that book critics at The New York Times classify as “The New Vanguard.”  
It’s time to get over the idea that women are only geniuses by accident. Lili Loofbourow essay in VQR on the “male glance” and the disregarded intentionality of female art is the best thing I’ve read in a long while. This is the best quote even though it is lousy with best quotes.

There’s better performance art in almost any woman than there is in a thousand James Francos.

I was so disappointed by RuPaul this week. Mama Ru’s comments on the relationship between gender and drag were not only transphobic and profoundly damaging, they were historically inaccurate. I’m gonna leave the heavy lifting here to Charlene Incarnate, a trans drag performer from Brooklyn who expertly rebutted Ru in Buzzfeed. The whole piece should be required reading, but this is the section that had me shouting COME THRU across my dining table (to no one in particular because #alone):

The problems with RuPaul’s comments are obvious and conspicuous. She told the Guardian that “drag loses its sense of danger and its sense of irony once it’s not men doing it, because at its core it’s a social statement and a big f-you to male-dominated culture. So for men to do it, it’s really punk rock, because it’s a real rejection of masculinity.” Implying that men are capable of rejecting masculinity in a way that women are not is nearsighted to say the least, and her mention of “danger” is especially repulsive at a time when queer and trans women are raped and murdered in record numbers with every passing year.


This is not the point, but reading this essay by Monica Lewinsky—who is a beautiful, soulful writer—made me think of all the great culture we lose when we demolish women for their mistakes (and forgive men). Spurred by a chance encounter with Ken Starr, Lewinsky reexamines what happened to her in 1998 under the filter of #MeToo—the cousins of trauma and regret that have shaped her last two decades and the bright burst of hope the movement has inspired among women. Her piece made me nostalgic for a world that never existed—a world that broke differently for her.

Switching gears ever so slightly...the incredible victory of the teachers strike in West Virginia was a triumph for organized labor at a time when unions are under relentless attack from conservative ideologues in state legislatures and on the Supreme Court. It may even inspire sister protests from teachers in other states. As the granddaughter of a union member and steelworker (who is also still alive), I’m hopeful about how this win could spell a changing tide for workers’ rights across the country.
New research shows that in times of economic instability, voters are more likely to favor male politicians over women. It boils down to this: voters (mostly men) don’t trust women to handle the Big Boy Policy Challenges, like a struggling economy (or the perception of one). So there you have it: another fabulous prejudice based totally in reality.
Speaking of the gender leadership gap, I saw a statistic this week that both shook me to my core and reaffirmed everything I know about female access to power: what are the odds that, if women and men had equal opportunity to become president, all 45 of our heads of state would be men? The answer: 1 in 36 trillion. Keep that number at the tip of your tongue next time anyone suggests that influence in this world is doled out by merit.
Also in “wtf”: France, the Mississippi of Western Europe, is finally moving towards establishing an age of consent. In 2018.
Some good news: the founder of the Fyre Festival who isn’t Ja Rule plead guilty to wire fraud. I hope his punishment somehow involves cold cheese sandwiches.
If you had to split with your boyfriend because he created the Fyre Festival, my friend Dana has a tip for getting over a breakup. It involves outsourcing your stalking—a rare example of outsourcing enhancing one’s autonomy.
If you’re cold and anxious because when you close your eyes at night, you’re back on the island of Great Exuma huddling for warmth with a Blink-182 roadie under a slowly-caving geodesic dome, may I suggest a weighted blanket? I haven’t tried one, but was fascinated by Jia Tolentino’s piece on their allure for the New Yorker—half review, half meta commentary on “capitalism’s ability to create a void and then to fill it, for those who have the cash.”
Finally, this piece on Robert Mueller’s style is so delicious, I saved it for last, like dessert. This is my favorite bite:

Mueller’s strong tendency toward foulard ties, with their navy or burgundy fields graced by suave geometries of small patterns, demonstrates a refinement that is nicely balanced by his wristwatch, with its horsey hexagonal chunk of a black plastic case. Identified by amateur horologists as a Casio DW-290 sport watch, with a list price of fifty dollars, it is synched to project an incorruptible constancy.


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Taraji P. Henson’s interview with alleged-harasser Ryan Seacrest on the Oscars red carpet was an excellent example of micro-shade.

photo credit: E!

photo credit: E!

Also, take 11 minutes out of your day to watch John Mulaney and Nick Kroll’s opening monologueat the Independent Spirit Awards. They are so precise and in sync. It is like watching ruthless, very funny water ballet.
And lastly, Samantha Bee thinks NRA members should defect to another group that is “small and universally disrespected.” Enter: Scientology. After all, “Who needs a rifle to defend themselves when, as an OT VII, you could blow someone away with your brain?”

Also: merch!


Staunchly yours,