Dames Nation! Let’s talk a little bit about Ava DuVernay’s adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time and why we wants to have a Very Serious Conversation with the critical establishment that’s currently undervaluing it!
And also one with the internet about where we can find makeup tutorials on not just all the Misses’ otherworldly glamour...
But also for Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s flawless no makeup makeup look
If you watched it and found yourself underwhelmed as a viewer, we has no bone to pick with you-- it’s not a perfect film and there’s certainly room for ambivalence in individual responses. But from a critical standpoint, we believe, with the same strength with which we know Dame M. to be a total Mrs. Whatsit, that to say this movie failed as art-- which a 40% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes would lead many to conclude-- shows that you either fundamentally misunderstand its goal-- communicating directly to kids between the ages of 8-14, particularly girls-- or that you do not think that goal has artistic value. The movie itself makes no bones about this goal and the weight it gives to Meg Murray’s internal life, the care with which her emotional journey is depicted, and the thematic resonance that journey has within the plot feel objectively artful. This mismatch between our sense of Ava Duvernay’s cohesive, successful artistic vision and the movie’s critical reception left us agreeing ardently with this excellent and thought-provoking Twitter thread by a librarian named Jenny Kristine on the lack of critical vocabulary for movies and television that cater to children’s developmental needs rather than adults-- on how there is no way to say that a movie is “for kids” without in some way implying that it’s also lesser art.
If you saw the movie this weekend, let us know what you think of this conceit! And, if you have not yet seen it, let it be known that it is thoroughly and officially Dames Approved™.
Dame Margaret Cares More About The Invention of Synthetic Dyes Than You Would Expect
How do we actually come to “Think Pink”?
Color forecasting! All this time, we thought it was as simple as One Great Women dictating an editorial to her secretary admonishing women everywhere to “banish the black, burn the blue, bury the beige, and THINK PINK!” But in actual fact, it’s a vastly more complex process, one that began with the invention of synthetic dyes in the 19th century (something that features prominently in not one but TWO of Dame Margaret’s favorite historical romances-- A Lily Among Thorns [wherein the hero is a chemist focused on inventing synthetic dyes] and The Heiress Effect [wherein the titular heiress’s affection for aniline dyes has more plot importance that you would ever guess]) and one that is now carried out, in a process that’s half research, half witchcraft, by Pantone. And it’s one that happens to be the focus of this excellent longread from The New York Times Magazine-- “What Is the Perfect Color Worth?”
Which is not to say that One Great Woman cannot have a deep impact on fashion trends. For example, after years of really believing that my body was just not meant for jumpsuits, I have begun actively combing websites for one that will really suit me, all thanks to a vital piece of service journalism from Noted Great Woman, Unfriendly Black Hottie, and beloved #damespal Kamille Washington: her kind of infuriatingly well-written piece for On She Goes, “Yes, You Need a Jumpsuit.” It entirely convinced me that, even if the journey to finding the right jumpsuit for me is long, owning one will be sufficiently fun to make it worthwhile. If it leaves you feeling the same, let me recommend the best jumpsuit purveyors I’ve found so far: New York & Company, Zara, and ASOS.
And, in another important thing gleaned from the Unfriendly Black Hotties, it’s been too long since I screamed about HOW COOL CORVIDS ARE! Please join me in reading this great piece on CROW FUNERALS from Seattle Magazine and then ALSO this wild inventor’s plan to clean up urban centers by training crows to pick up cigarette butts, and let’s all feel intimidated again by how smart crows are, and meditate deeply on how badly we’d like a trained one for a pet.
Then let’s all think about how cool it would be if we held a Dames Nation retreat on this tiny Wisconsin Island that has, for reasons to do with nifty traditions and also prohibition, become the world’s biggest consumer of Angostura Bitters.
And finally, let’s all celebrate two tiny bits of utterly trivial breaking news. One: in Vietnam, there is a cat named Dog who (happily!!!) dresses up in costume and “works” at the fish market, and he is great. And two, tickets for the world premiere of the new musical based on Alanis Morissette's seminal album Jagged Little Pill went on sale this week, and a video of three of the songs arranged for a Broadway production and sung by the cast is available, and they sound REALLY great. Come to Boston and see the production when it opens this May! Diablo Cody is writing the book???!!?! It will be, without a doubt, interesting.
Everything about this sequence is Pure Goals.
Local Culture Vulture Still Misses David Bowie Something Awful: Full Report At 8 PM
Hi, friends! I’m away for the weekend, heading up to New York to hang with friends in from out of town and to go to the David Bowie is exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. Since only about half of you were subscribed to this newsletter when we first published my anguished howl of grief over David Bowie’s death in 2016, we figured now is a good time to re-run it.
For those who have read it before, I updated the links section at the end, combining my favorites from the first two weeks of coverage following his death, and a few other great things that have been published in the two years since. It took me over a year to process this loss, and honestly, it still hurts if I let myself think about it for too long. Let’s rip the band-aid off again, starting with this iconic gifset:
It’s 1984. You’re a generally people-pleasing and well-behaved child of 9. Your parents decide to give this new cable thing a go for the summer, and your favorite babysitter, Rosemary -- a very glamorous teen who French braids your hair and taught you to roller skate in the driveway -- introduces you & your sister to a channel called MTV. You are, predictably, entranced. There’s a video for a song called “Blue Jean”, sung by a...well, a really compelling, strange-looking guy. (Re-viewing this video, you notice just how well he seemed to understand contouring before the Kardashians were even a glimmer in Kris’s eye.) But there’s just something about him. And what’s this? He’s playing a dual role in the video, as both the magnetic weirdo performer and the hapless yet swoony swain in a perfect suit? You really fucking love this song. Blue Jean does indeed send you.
It’s 1990. Thanks in large part to classic rock stations routinely counting down the Top 500 Songs of All Time (As Defined by a Group of White Dudes Older Than Your Dad), you are now a full-on music nerd with many crushes on many singers: Prince, Bowie, Bono, Sting, Michael Stipe, Michael Jackson, George Michael, George Harrison. You’ve watched Labyrinth more times than is probably healthy (still with the genius contouring! Not that the king of Punim Watch needs it, but still). You also babysit several nights a week and use your responsibly-gotten gains to subscribe to Rolling Stone & SPIN, and to buy a lot of tapes & concert tickets. One of your first purchases down at Tower Records is the remastered re-release of The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders from Mars (complete with bonus tracks! You never knew they were a thing before!). You listen to it all summer, memorizing the lyrics. You buy some more Bowie tapes on sale, your favorite uncle tells you about his favorite Bowie song (“Changes”, which you also love an almost unreasonable amount), you talk your friend Jen into going with you to see him play the Spectrum on the Sound + Vision Tour & splash out on a copy of the concert program (sadly long since lost). When he plays “Heroes”, you think you may die of an unbearable mix of happiness, sexiness, and melancholy.
It’s 2000. You tag along with your best friend to meet one of her best friends from her study abroad program, an English guy who you know has great taste in music. You put “Soul Love” on a mixtape for him, knowing it’s a deep cut & he’ll either know it and be impressed or (even better) not know it and be a little intimidated. It’s the latter -- yesssss! -- and you have a conversation about how for all their love of conformity, what the English love best of all is a beautiful genius weirdo like Bowie, Mercury or Morrissey. Thanks in part to your mixtape sorcery, you later marry that guy (who now lies next to you, gently nudging you in the shoulder and saying “yes, I think we SHOULD watch the 1972 ‘Starman’ performance again! And then the 1973 ‘Jean Genie’ with the fisheye lens stuff, please.”).
It’s 2016. One week, you think, “oh, I must watch that ‘Lazarus’ video. Excellent surprise, Bowie! Please never change, you big wackadoo.” The next, you’re in mourning. You reflect on all the things David Bowie gave you: The notion that being a restless cultural magpie might be a worthwhile thing to be. A sterling example of how rewarding it is to collaborate with people you love and respect. Some solid reasons not to do hard drugs. A lifelong appreciation for beautiful genius weirdos. Lust. A day (quite a few days, really) when you had occasion to sing “Moonage Daydream” in the car with your ten year-old, as loud as you could.
A key motto over here at the Bossy Aerie.
Posthumous Link Buffet
I’ve updated this section with lots of extras! Enjoy, fellow Bowie-philes.
Consider Bowie’s 1972 live performance of Starman. It’s lost none of its explosive appeal as a giant, audacious middle finger extended in the direction of the confines of masculinity (while also being a combination of sexy and endearing that Dame S. finds irresistible).
In 1983, during an interview with MTV’s Mark Goodman, David Bowie mentioned that he thought it was weird that the network wasn’t showing many videos by Black artists. Watch his Politely Smiling Face of Disgust & Disbelief as Goodman digs himself into a whitesplaining hole.
We associate Bowie so strongly with Germany & France, but he was global artist, with global reach, as shown by these eight Latin American tributes to his songs. My husband & I caught Brazilian singer/songwriter Seu Jorge on his moving and fun Bowie/Life Aquatic tribute tour the night before the 2016 election and it stands out as my last perfectly joyous memory of that year, which is a real saudade way to feel about anything.
Remember when Bowie wore a pistachio-green suit to Freddie Mercury’s tribute concert & took a knee to recite the Lord’s Prayer after performing Under Pressure with Annie Lennox? That was pretty great.
Bowie: A Book Nerd who compiled a master list of his Favorite 100 titles. (Can we make him an honorary librarian?) His son, Duncan Jones, launched an officially sanctioned Bowie Book Club in January, but intrepid podcasters David & Karianne launched the Original Bowie Book Club back in 2016, and were very lovely about my bossing my way onto their show to yell about Wonder Boys
And finally, a surprisingly effective Bowie Grief Management Strategy: The Flight of the Conchords’ silly, perfect, loving parody, Bowie’s In Space (PLUS: Jemaine Clement’s story of how they wrote the song, but couldn’t get Bowie on the show.)
Per usj, the pop criticism bros in our head over at the NYT Popcast did some beautiful work honoring Bowie’s legacy, this time with philosopher & Bowie-phile special guest Simon Critchley, whose lovely piece in the Times is also well worth a read.
In the longform Bowie reads category, Rob Sheffield’s On Bowie was one of my very favorite books of 2016. You’ll breeze through it in a day and it’ll stay with you for months.
I defy anyone with eyeballs and a heart to watch this interview segment on a 1997 episode of the Rosie O’Donnell Show and not be completely won over when he a) gives Rosie her heart’s desire and b) is so clearly beside himself with love for Iman (well, who wouldn’t be?).
As usual, Avidly has published a heartsong essay for us, on How to Bring Your Kids Up Bowie, moving & useful regardless of your reproductive status or plans.
And here’s a three-hanky read on Bowie grief, which pairs nicely with my tribute above.
If you’re a fellow music storytelling nerd, don’t miss Toni Visconti on how “Heroes” came together in the studio and Nile Rodgers telling the story of how “Let’s Dance” emerged. You’ll also want to watch this documentary clip about the recording of Low.
Two Bossy Dames is brought to you by:
This puppy, who is beginning to find her sea legs,
Harry Styles’ leveling up in all aspects of the arena leg of his tour, including maximum sequins, a get-up that is plainly a plea for him to be cast on the next season of Harlots, and his steadily-improving skills as a French speaker devoted to leading his audience in saying “85” (one of the silliest numbers) and exploring the maximally enthusiastic pronunciation of “pamplemousse”,
And this heroic man in an Elsa-from-Frozen costume who helped a police van get unstuck from a snowbank during the nor’easter that just walloped Boston!
We appreciate you, readers of Dames Nation!
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