In this week’s Wednesday 5, we ponder whether criticism of Kate Middleton’s official portrait is inherently sexist; hope for a black female heroine we can relate to in Django Unchained; marvel at (and also try to understand) Jodie Foster’s Golden Globes speech; feel incredibly inspired by one woman’s idea to create father-daughter dances in prison; and applaud Justice Sonia Sotomayor for making history (again!).
Kate Middleton Portrait Buzz: Art Criticism, Sexism, or Something Else?
Last week’s unveiling of the the portrait of Kate Middleton, commissioned by the royal family for Britain’s National Portrait Gallery, resulted in an onslaught of criticism. Although Middleton herself praised the portrait by artist Paul Emsley as “brilliant,” others, particularly those in the media, weighed in that the portrait shows the duchess as old, dour, bland, awkward, and worn, among other not-so-nice adjectives. With all the hoopla, Samantha Villenave of Hyperallergic.com posed an important question, one we thought should be commended:
“Do these comments reflect the painting, or rather the unflattering light in which Kate is portrayed? Is the problem, in the eyes of the critics, media, and general public, an issue with the actual painting, or rather with a standard set for such a public persona, and for women in general?”
Perhaps, says Andrew Rigsby, one of the site’s readers, the portrait might have been a “very intimate conversation between the artist and his subject. . . We could really be looking at the way Lady Middleton really feels after all her time under the far too hot lights of the paparazzi.”
Read more at Hyperallergic.com.
Invisibility in Django Unchained: Broomhilda in Chains
Even with all the praise and accolades that Quentin Tarantino’s film Django Unchained is receiving for the creation of a unique black hero, Eisa Ulen of Truthout.org argues that the film nevertheless continues an age-old trope in Hollywood—that of the damsel in distress. The film itself centers on the saving of Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife of the character Django (Jamie Foxx), who has been captured and tortured by slave owners. What we’re given, writes Ulen, is a female character who is a perpetual victim in need of saving:
This lost opportunity to authentically render the real-life heroism of Black women during slavery weakens the film. When Broomhilda first sees Django, she faints. When the shootout occurs, she can’t manage to grab a gun and fire even one shot all by herself. When Django comes back for her after the shootout, she doesn’t help plan the destruction of Candie Land. When the mansion where she was sexually assaulted on a regular basis is blown apart, she can only close her ears and smile approvingly at her man’s cunning power.
The alternative? How could the film and the character been been portrayed differently? “I would have liked to see her kick ass, too,” says Ulen. “I would have liked to see Broomhilda unchained.”
Read more at Truthout.org.
Jodie Foster’s Golden Globes Speech
‘Tis the season. Awards Season, that is. And with Awards Season come the notable speeches that will be archived, shared, replayed, and spoofed all over the Web. Jodie Foster (who, by the way, at 50 years old, is stunning), received the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes on Sunday night and left the audience—well, speechless. At times rambling, at times meaningful, at times confusing, Foster’s speech (read full text here) has been making the headlines since Sunday evening. Ellen DeGeneres called it an “amazing and laudatory act.” The Associated Press wasn’t impressed, deeming it “long, breathless and rambling” and “anything but predictable.” Salon says it was “awkward and at times angry and brave and strange.”
Whatever your thoughts on Foster’s speech (perhaps you feel all of the above), we did find moments where she spoke powerfully and with an urgent call to action to be authentic and to make a contribution to the world. Foster concluded:
I will continue to tell stories, to move people by being moved: the greatest job in the world. It’s just that from now on, I may be holding a different talking stick. And maybe it won’t be as sparkly. Maybe it won’t open on three thousand screens. Maybe it will be so quiet and delicate that only dogs can hear it whistle. But it will be my writing on the wall: Jodie Foster was here. I still am, and I want to be seen, to be understood, deeply, and to be not so very lonely.
Jodie Foster Speech, Golden Globe Awards 2013
Angela Patton: A Father-Daughter Dance . . . in Prison
Children of incarcerated parents are saddled with the knowledge that they will be without their mother or father as they go through life. Angela Patton, a nonprofit professional working with girls in Richmond, Virginia, believed it was wrong that daughters have to be separated from their fathers because of barbed wire and bars. “Because a father is locked in [jail] does not mean he should be locked out of his daughter’s life,” says Patton. So she created Camp Diva, which helps support “at-promise” girls ages 11 to 17 and works to help girls and fathers stay connected and in each others’ lives. Watch the recent TEDx Women Talk in which Patton shares her story of creating a very special father-daughter dance in prison that provides a way for girls to connect with and invite their fathers into their lives. Her strategy isn’t just about securing father-daughter bonds, it’s also about curbing rates of men returning to prison. “When fathers are connected to their children, it is unlikely they will return to jail,” says Patton.
Angela Patton on Father-Daughter Dances in Prison, TED Talks
Making History (Again): Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor
On January 20, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor will administer the oath of office for Vice-President Joe Biden. She will become the first Latina to administer an oath of office. Equally significant, she is among only three other women who have administered the oath in the history of the United States. Those women are Judge Sarah T. Hughes (President Johnson, 1963); Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (Vice- President Dan Quayle, 1989); and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Vice-President Al Gore, 1997). 2013 is shaping up to be a very good year for Justice Sotomayor. Her new memoir, My Beloved World, is receiving rave reviews for its candor and for being, according to NPR, “disarmingly personal.”