What if the re-make of Fame had more going for it than name recognition?

As a current fan of So You Think You Can Dance and a former fan of Solid Gold, Top of the Pops, and the original movie Fame, as well as the spin-off tv series, I was well and truly disappointed in the 2009 Fame re-make. It would have been better to stay at home and watch SYTYCD reruns. But, given the name recognition the title evokes, as well as the tie-ins with the popular SYTYCD show, I can imagine others were similarly sucked into the movie theatre this weekend – only to find that this was new version was NO match for Leroy, Doris, Bruno, and Coco.

As soon as I heard the techno-fizzed up version of the title song, originally belted out by Irene Cara in fem-power fabulousness, I knew I was in for a let down. I should have known that the movie I watched repeatedly as a kid (in rotation with Flashdance, Footloose, Saturday Night Fever, and Grease) couldn’t live up to my (admittedly nostalgic) feelings for the original.

But, did it have to be so dripping with woman are weak rhetoric? Did it have to be so bad as to make the female leads timid, under-talented, and naïve?  Did Denise’s mom have to wait until the end to stand up to her over-bearing husband and defend her daughter’s decision to branch out from classical piano? Did the stand-in Leroy’s mom have to be the typical, 3 job, stressed WOC who doesn’t see her son’s talent, cruelly asking him “Who in the world told you you were so special?!?” And did the marvelous Megan Mulally have to sing a squeaked out version of “You Took Advantage of Me,” written by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers circa 1928? While contemporary music has more than its share of misogynistic lyrics, there are far more proto-political songs (and outright political ones for that matter) that don’t include ‘romanctic’ references to sexual assault.

Here are some of the lyrics from the song Mulally sang in the film:

“A mental deficient you’ll grade me.
I’ve given you plenty of data.
You came, you saw and you slayed me,
And that-a is that-a!
I’m a sentimental sap, that’s all.
What’s the use of trying not to fall?
I have no will,
You’ve made your kill
‘Cause you took advantage of me!
I’m just like an apple on a bough
And you’re gonna shake me down somehow.
So what’s the use,
You’ve cooked my goose
‘Cause you took advantage of me!

Here am I with all my bridges burned,
Just a babe in arms where you’re concerned,
So lock the doors
And call me yours
‘Cause you took advantage of me.”  (find full lyrics here)

I thought the song was questionably icky when I heard it at the theatre, but when I looked up the lyrics once I got home, I was truly dismayed. Ah, the wonderful way music can make rape sound so romantic!

On top of the appallingly vapid representations of females, there was not an out gay character to be found, let alone a mixed-race couple among the lead hetero-romances. Fame 2009, I am not going to remember your name. In fact, I am going to erase your existence from my memory entirely, allowing only my beloved 1980 version to sing on in my head…

What if porn makes you gay?

As reported as Salon.com, the “Values Voter Summit” this past weekend (you know with a name like that this has got to be a scary meeting of ultra-right, ultra-white, hetero-loving nuts), a panel entitled “The New Masculinity” discussed how “feminism has wreaked havoc on marriage, women, children and men” in an attempt to get “the principles and ideals for a new ‘masculinism’ right.” Hmmm, sounds like this “new” masculinity is not all that new—rather, it’s the same old “blame women while keeping all our privileges” tactic. And, who deserves the most blame? Those nasty, evil, turning-your-kids-gay-and-away-from-god feminists of course!

But, there is a remedy—at least for sons. Tell them pornography will turn them gay!

With references to homosexuality as a “malady” that is “inflicted on people” Michael Schwartz, the chief of staff for Senator Tom Coburn (of Oklahoma), shared that “All pornography is homosexual pornography, because all pornography turns your sexual drive inwards.” Whoa, now there is some brilliance of the magnitude that if you touch yourself, your hands will fall off and you’ll be headed straight to the devil. Brilliance such as this harks from the Victorian age, that era of sexual repression that brought us circumcision as a “cure” for masturbation. It is also the era, of course, of thriving not-so-subculture porn and erotica. Surprisingly enough, with all that “smut” circulating in society, not all boys were “turned gay.”

That these conversations took place is not surprising given the right-wing homophobic bent of our nation, but it is still incredibly disturbing that leaders frame homosexuality as a disease, using tired ideas that you can be “infected” with gayness. Ah, if only the world could be “infected” with the idea that policing sexuality is not the answer to any of our problems. Rather, such rigid constructions of sexuality create a multitude of harmful practices and beliefs.

More generally, if we could “infect” the world with feminism, perhaps homophobic, misogynist leaders such as Schwartz would have to hide in the closet, masturbating to images of Dr. Laura or Rush Limbaugh.

Hmmm, how best to infect the world with feminism? We need some summits longer than a weekend to figure out our plan for transmission… Maybe we could sneak a dose of feminism into the swine flu vaccination?