Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Random Good Reads/Views: Women in Media, ‘Homeland’ Finale, What’s Eating the Grinch?

Joanne Bamberger, aka Pundit Mom, clued me in to this provocative and eye-opening speech by Megan Kamerick, a former president of the Journalism & Women Symposium, about how women’s voices are disproportionately absent from news stories and features, despite the fact that women constitute over half of the population.

“Stories by female reporters are more likely to challenge stereotypes than those by male reporters,” Kamerick said.

“Women are more likely to be defined by their body parts,” she said, showing a cover image of Wired Magazine of a woman’s naked chest, noting that women rarely appear on the cover of Wired unless they're sexualized.

Image credit: Showtime
On that Homeland Finale

*Warning spoilers from Homeland finale*

Homeland showrunners told New York Magazine’s Vulture that they originally anticipated that Sgt. Nick Brody would only appear in the first season.

“I think when Alex [Gansa, his co-showrunner] and I first conceived the series, it seemed obvious that we couldn’t take the show with Brody as a character beyond the first season. But then we realized how rich that mine was and how much more there was left to get out of it,” Howard Gordon, the other Homeland showrunner, told New York.

“Brody’s surviving the finale was very much in doubt,” Gansa said. “We really talked about it both ways. Ultimately we felt there was more to tell in the saga between Carrie and Brody, in that relationship.”

Now there are some who thought the finale was a cop-out and they didn’t like it in the least. I was surprised at the abruptness of its tonal shift when Brody attempted to blow himself up, only to have his explosive vest malfunction. He fixed it, was ready to try again, but hearing his daughter’s pleading voice on his cell phone (prompted to call him by Carrie Mathison) persuaded him to go another way and later rationalize to Abu Nazir that he could do more damage by working within the system rather than just killing the folks in that bunker.

I admit I was a bit let down when the credits rolled on this finale. Then I slept on it. Why was I let down, because Brody DIDN’T kill people? I didn’t want him to kill people. I didn’t want to see the glorification of a suicide bomber. When I woke up the next morning and thought about what the Homeland writers had done – turning a would-be lethal protest into something more subtle in the form of working within the system – I decided that the writers took the harder and more intriguing road. In the world of 24, things were always blowing up, even nuclear bombs. Sure, seeing a bomb go off is dramatic, but seeing people wrestle with their conscience, with right and wrong, with loyalties and with consequences is so much more interesting.

Later in the New York interview, Gansa, who noted that Brody’s suicide video is still missing, added:

“[Brody] flipped the switch, which satisfied our feeling that this is someone who would go through with what he decided to do, and then it opened up the possibility of redemption after the fact, when he fixes the vest and almost goes through with it for the second time. We all like Brody now, and we want him to be redeemed, and we kind of got to have it both ways.”

What’s Eating The Grinch?

In honor of the Christmas season, I’m going to direct you to an essay in McSweeney’s by Robb Fritz which dissected what was really bugging that mean old Grinch and discussed how the green being used his happy-go-lucky dog Max as his “put-upon canine slave, made to dress up as an unconvincing reindeer with one heavy faux-antler roped onto his head.”

“There’s no indication that the Grinch, unlike Scrooge, is a wealthy, malevolent, card carrying member of the 1%,” Fritz wrote. “He’s more just a finicky grump who hates it when his downstairs neighbors have late night parties, ostensibly because the noise keeps him up, but maybe just possibly because he hasn’t been invited.”

Image credit: Showtime.

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