We know it’s been 5 days, but dang you guys, that was a HECK of a twist ending at the Oscars there, huh?
Neither Dame Sophie, asleep several hours previously, nor Dame Margaret, who’d petulantly turned the TV off right as La La Land’s win was (incorrectly) announced, got to witness the cast of Moonlight reacting to the news of the movie's Best Picture victory live, but we’ve now watched videos of it a…. non-trivial number of times. It was a reversal that left us clutching our hearts...
...and cheering for joy.
In part, our delight about this win reflects what Jia Tolentino’s excellent piece on the ceremony astutely identified as “the general feeling that everything is politically charged at the moment, including, and perhaps especially, the purported absence of politics.” Seeing black excellence rewarded in a moment when we were both so sure that it would be unjustly overlooked yet again felt like a bigger moral victory than any one award could ever really confer. The Academy Awards celebrating a single film cannot erase Hollywood’s vast and weighty problems with representation, diversity behind the camera, pervasive abuses of power, or any number of other large & small violations. Heck, it can’t even erase Dame Margaret’s searing fury that Barry Jenkins lost the Best Director to Damien Chazelle. (YOU WERE ROBBED, BARRY. ROBBED.)
Practically, however, Moonlight’s win means one MAJOR, undeniable thing: it will return to theaters, and it will be released much more widely than it had been previously. Which means more people will have the opportunity to see it on the big screen, as it deserves to be seen, and we want to do our part to make sure that you’re among them.
If you’re familiar with the kind of stories about black life that the Academy Awards usually celebrate, you may be assuming that Moonlight will be Hard to Watch (....based on the novel Stone Cold Bummer by Manipulate), and may have avoided it on that count. But, while it does engage frankly with the realities of poverty, institutionalized racism, homophobia, and drug addictionMoonlight is a hopeful, beautiful story. It is not out to trick you into getting invested in characters only to use that investment to hurt you, thereby mobilizing you to some kind of change of heart (I’m looking at you, Best Picture of 2005 Crash). It’s out to tell a story of one specific boy growing up in one specific place and the types of love that both put him at risk and keep him safe, and to tell that story honestly. When Dame Margaret saw it, she could have happily sat in the theater and watched it all the way through a second time. When Dame Sophie saw it, she thought her heart might actually leap out of her chest as she saw Adult Kevin recognize Adult Chiron in the diner (and has not been able to stop thinking about their final scenes together since).
So: if you have been holding back because you’re in a tender place, and you did not think you needed to see a movie that would put you through the wringer, we just wanted to say-- we don’t think this one will. Your heart may crack open, but this is a film made to fill it right back up again. We cannot praise it highly enough, and we hope you’ll take advantage of this Oscar-granted second chance to catch it on the big screen.
This guy: STILL the Oscar reaction avatar America needs.
Dame Margaret’s New Slang, New Tunes, and Other Life-Changing Links
Sure, if you’re looking for iconic lines from teen movies about slang, the first thing you’ll think of is fetch. But DON’T SLEEP on 10 Things I Hate About You’s weird dad’s weird monologue!
You know that We Your Dames love language, slang, and discussions about the social context for both. So of COURSE this piece about the origins of new slang terminology, complete with beautiful charts, was inevitably going to be make it into the newsletter-- and I can’t resist sharing another piece from the same site, which demonstrates the challenge of making it big by charting the 7,000+ bands that headlined small venues in New York over two years to see how many of them ever headlined again, let alone at a bigger venue. A piece that was particularly fun to read because it tracks the rise of a few of my favorite bands like Lucius, Lake Street Dive, and Sylvan Esso.
And SPEAKING of bands vying across small venues to be the ONE that makes it, NPR Music has released its annual Austin 100, a list of 100 FREE-TO-DOWNLOAD songs by artists who will be performing at this year’s sprawling South by Southwest music showcase. This has been a reliable source of new favorites for me and I’m already falling for some of this year’s choices. In addition to learning these new tunes, I am also basking in a bunch of my established favorites (Best Coast! Bad Bad Hats! Honeyblood!) by listening to a perfect-for-early-spring, girls-and-great-guitars playlist that my friend Joe made for his new Twitter Mixtape Club.
Which brings me to this interview with reclusive pop music genius Max Martin, the man responsible for 90% of the bangers guaranteed to make me TURN UP at any time of day or night, which I am morally obligated to share-- not least because it’s the best way to make sure Dame Sophie has ALSO seen it.
SURE, turkeys might idiotically circle the corpse of a cat in a way that is simultaneously hypnotic and sinister. But, bless The Washington Post, who won’t let you get so caught up in this one weird video that you forget that CROWS are the ONLY birds that we know recognize death and learn from it.
Despite the fact that both of Us Your Dames are librarians, we address library business in this newsletter somewhat rarely. But permit me to make a BOLD STANCE: late fees in libraries are trash and they should be abolished! If you are among the non-librarians in Dames Nation, you should look into whether the fines you pay even go to support the library that charges them-- in many cities (SUCH AS BOSTON), they go directly to the city government and libraries neither pass go, NOR collect $200. Instead, they just lose all borrowers who don’t think of $5-$15 as a negligible amount of money-- i.e. exactly the kind of users libraries should be doing the most to support. So, when I share this story about all the interesting things received by the San Francisco Public Library during their recent fine forgiveness period, I do it not do so merely for the neat stories. I am also doing it to highlight the fact that the 5,000 patrons San Francisco regained through this drive are much more valuable to them and other similar libraries than the $330,000 in fines it sacrificed. LATE FINES ARE GARBAGE and no, I don’t merely think this because I currently owe the Boston Public Library too much money to borrow eBooks.
And finally! How about a remarkable, nuanced long read about the Addy Walker American Girl doll and what it means that we ask little black girls to grapple with the harsh realities of slavery even when we’re giving them a $115 toy.
Dame Sophie’s Smorgasbord of Feels
Truly, she has earned that self-satisfied ponytail stroke, and then some.
I’m having quite a few more Rihanna thoughts than usual this week, thanks to her acceptance of Harvard University's Humanitarian of the Year Award (for her work funding cancer treatment in Barbados), this profile of Melina Matsoukas(who directed, among many other iconic videos, “We Found Love In A Hopeless Place” one of my favorites of all time, “Losing You”, and of course, “Formation”, oh, and Issa Rae's show Insecure, basically she is doing everything and has exquisite taste, I love her), and this profile of her personal chef, Debbie Solomon. May we all be inspired by her generous embrace of deeply personal causes, new directions in her art, and lavishly long ponytails.
Also, a lot of Riz Ahmed thoughts? Care to join me? My beloved Rec Center newsletter highlighted this fabulous canonical illustration of Holmes & Watsonas portrayed by Dev Patel (whose mother, we learned from the Oscars broadcast, knows all the words to “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers, a fact that has sustained me all week long) and Ahmed. And then here he was on the UK’s Channel 4, talking about the need for way better representation of POC directors for British contemporary & costume dramas. Riz for Member of Parliament/Minister of Culture! Can’t you just see him tearing it up legislatively with #DamesFav Mhairi Black?
Beloved DamesPal Syazwina shared this conversation between Alain de Botton and Krista Tippet on the actual tough work that goes into love & relationships - both romantic attachments and friendships - and it’s so full of quote-worthy insights about compassion for and communication with the people we love that I’m just going to run around while emphatically waving my arms around and yelling GO READ IT (OR LISTEN TO IT IF THAT’S YOUR THING).
Finally, as a person with chronic migraine, living in a Young Old body that I know I need to make stronger so it can survive the coming dystopia, I’ve often been known to shout “UGH, BODIES”. You know, in a drily whimsical, “I’m going to joke about this, lest I cry, won’t you all laugh along with me, it’ll be fun, promise!” sort of way. So it was quite a moving relief to read two pieces that helped me relocate & re-embrace my often-vexing corporeal form this week. First, as a large person with a very loud winter coat (one that Dame M. herself correctly urged me to buy), Amanda Mull’s My Ridiculous Fur Coat Is My Armor Against The World spoke to me on a very deep level. Fake furs are classic neutrals and everyone who wants one should own one and truly own it. Second, The Trash Heap Has Spoken, found via Spotify Playlist Master Builder & past Dames Guest Co-Editor Amy Spalding, is a joyous, tough and moving celebration of female fatness that absolutely everyone should read, relish, and pass along.
We should all be so bold with our accessorization schemes.
Audacious faux furs: not just for extravagant selections of organic baby lettuces
(or daymare Saint-Laurent-wearing gorgons)