Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Netflix

All the Weekend Links, Existential Despair on the Side

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* In case you missed it: the call for papers for SFFTV‘s special issue on the Mad Max franchise. And our Star Trek special issue is still open, too!

* Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment.

* Horror in Charleston.

What that means is that in South Carolina, the Confederate flag abides by its own rules. While governors—as well as the president—can usually order that all state and national flags within their jurisdiction be flown at half-staff, this one is exempt. Instead, the Confederate flag’s location can be changed only by a two-thirds vote by both branches of the General Assembly. “In South Carolina, the governor does not have legal authority to alter the flag,” said a press secretary for Haley. “Only the General Assembly can do that.” Take down the flag.

* Confederate flag in Orlando to be burned in symbolic burial.

* Denmark Vesey, Forgotten Hero. A recent flashback.

Meet Debbie Dills, Florist Who Called in Tip that Led to Dylann Roof’s Arrest.

* It’s Juneteenth.

* We still need to talk about white male pathology.

* The Treasury is going to put a woman on the $10. That’ll fix it!

* Poverty and the brain.

What Would Happen If We ALL Stopped Paying Our Student Loans, Together?

California Says Uber Driver Is Employee, Not a Contractor.

* Tech isn’t really making a “sharing” economy. So what is it making? The Servitude Bubble.

Reasonable Doubts About the Jury System.

hemingway* Hemingway’s rough drafts.

We Regret to Inform You That in 4 Days You and Your Family Will Be Deported to Haiti.

Women’s soccer will only achieve greater growth when we have a FIFA not run by sexist men.

Performance-Based Funding Can Be Fickle, One University’s Close Call Shows. Florida State would have lost $16.7 million if its median graduate had earned just $400 less.

7 Seriously Bad Ideas That Rule Higher Education.

* “When a non-tenure-track lecturer position is the fairy tale reward for a PhD and more than 7 years on the job market, it’s time to break things.”

* The Cult of Jurassic Park.

* The sheep look up: don’t drink the water edition.

* Did abortion cause the drought? I say teach the controversy.

* It’s a weird, weird world: Obama is going to be on WTF. I’ll never accept this is real.

* Theses on Hating.

11. Enthusiasts have hitherto only loved the world in various ways; the point is to hate it (too).

* Precarity rising.

* Maladministration killed Sweet Briar, says former board member.

The Best And Worst Airlines, Airports And Flights, Summer 2015 Update.

‘Screen Time’ For Kids Is Probably Fine.

Your Children Won’t Be Able To Live In Space, Without A Major Upgrade.

* Another pedagogy gimmick, but at least it’s cheap: roleplaying games.

* Science explains why you hate the word “moist.”

There Have Only Been 9 Days This Year When Police Didn’t Kill Someone.

* Another piece on the trolley problem and the self-driving car.

* Vermont vs. the Affordable Care Act.

* Euthanasia and non-terminal illness.

* Harris Wittels’s sister remembers her brother.

SethBling wrote a program made of neural networks and genetic algorithms called MarI/O that taught itself how to play Super Mario World. This six-minute video is a pretty easy-to-understand explanation of the concepts involved.

* X-Men and the spectrum.

* Making the world safe from Marjane Satrapi.

Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro in conversation.

* A people’s history of Singled Out.

* Game of Peanuts.

* Everything you want, in the worst possible way: please god don’t ever let Captain Worf happen.

No pricey pension plans, some argued. No promotions based solely on seniority. No set hours for a given workweek. No prohibitions against layoffs. Unions! Catch the fever!

* The arc of history is long, but Mitch Horwitz is doing a Netflix comedy series with Maria Bamford.

* Didn’t we do this one already? All six Star Wars films at once.

* And if you want to know why there’s no future for our civilization, just read this.

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Written by gerrycanavan

June 19, 2015 at 12:25 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Thursday Links

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* America, I just want you to know there’s still time to stop this.

* Really got our number here: All Possible Humanities Dissertations, Considered as Single Tweets.

RT @gerrycanavan: This short text, seen rightly, reveals the contradictions of a whole culture.

Scholarly Associations Defend Tenure and Academic Freedom in Wisconsin.

* Now Cooper Union’s president is out, too.

Since starting to write this story about Champion, so many people have warned me away, expressed concern and shock, or (helpful but alarming) encouraged me to call the police if ever I felt threatened. I sort of knew what I was getting into when I began, and I believe I have as good an understanding now as I can have now that I’ve finished, but this fear is palpable. I know Champion will read this and I cannot imagine how it will feel for him. I would not want such a piece to be written about me, but I also hope never do to the kinds of things Champion has done. And I think that if I ever do them, I will deserve a story like this. Fascinating, frightening read.

* Unhappy career advice from the Chronicle: “You might not be ready for promotion.”

* UNC gets put on one-year probation for its recent student-athlete scandals. In other news, accreditation is a joke.

11-Year-Old Boy Played in His Yard. CPS Took Him, Felony Charge for Parents.

The Post-Ownership Society: How the “sharing economy” allows Millennials to cope with downward mobility, and also makes them poorer.

* History is a nightmare from which we are trying to wake George R.R. Martin.

This Artist Is Taking The Condemned Homes Of Detroit And Turning Them Into Gorgeous Fuddruckers Franchises.

* Clever girl: Reviewer From The Guardian Says Jurassic World Passes Bechdel Test Because of Female Dinosaurs. See also.

* Teach all girls self-defense.

* Bold new horizons in student debt moralism.

* The history of America, as seen through the Census.

* Twilight of “you guys.”

Quentin Tarantino is ‘retrofitting 50 theaters in the world’ with special projectors so they can show his new film properly.

* John Roberts, liberal hero?

* Being Kumail Nanjiani.

Doogie Howser, M.D. gets the gritty reboot you never knew it needed.

* Harriet Potter and the Very Dedicated Parent. There really should be an app for this.

* Male film critics are apparently unable to understand the explicit, surface text of Goodfellas.

* Alanis Morissette, before Jagged Little Pill.

* The arc of history is long, but.

* This is close, but I for one believe the hottest take is still out there.

* And I guess some people just see farther.

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Resolved: Thursday Links Will Take All Our Links

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* Tonight! DC! 6:30! Resolved: Technology Will Take All Our Jobs!

* Help, University Administration Is Terrible! Kids these days.

Statement by PROFS in response to JFC omnibus motion #521, item #39. Foxes in the Henhouse: The Republican Takeover of the University of Wisconsin System. A turning point for the UW Colleges.

* Han’s wife shot first.

Forgetting Lolita: How Nabokov’s Victim Became an American Fantasy.

* Michael Bérubé and Jennifer Ruth: Time for a Teaching-Intensive Tenure Track.

How the Red Cross Raised Half a Billion Dollars for Haiti ­and Built Six Homes.

Every United Airlines flight was grounded this morning in the US.

More People Work at Fusion Than Are Reading Its Most Popular Post.

The problem is that the IRB system is so fundamentally misconceived that it is virtually a model of how to regulate badly.

French Court Rules It Is Unconstitutional To Cut Off Water To Anybody.

Teen got arrested after cop tried to pick her up, failed. Warrants issued for people who cheered at Senatobia graduation. In the last seven years at least 29 police K-9s have sweltered to death after officers left the dogs inside hot patrol vehicles.

School kitchen manager fired for giving lunches to hungry students.

* Sepp Blatter resigns. Something something joke about George Lucas character names.

The Secret 1949 Radiation Experiment That Contaminated Washington.

How Ridic Are the New Scrabble Words?

* How Ridic Are Call-In Shifts?

Alternative Idea for Resolving Sexual-Assault Cases Emphasizes Closure. “Administrators promised to keep her charges confidential and to protect her from retaliation.” For what it’s worth, I had some general thoughts on Title IX earlier this week that I Storified on the off-chance anyone is interested. I don’t think the outlook is good.

The inside story of how the Clintons built a $2 billion global empire. Is Hillary Clinton in trouble?

* Draft, uh, let’s say Bloomberg.

* The Tampon: A History.

* Google NBA Jam truth.

New Study Confirms Self-Evident Truth: Time Warner Is Literally The Worst.

* Hell is working at the Huffington Post.

* Teach the controversy.

* And the arc of history is long, but Arrested Development season five will air in spring 2016.

So Many Weekend Links!

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* I’ve seen this movie: Marquette working with firm to humanely manage seagulls.

* Best game I’ve played in a really long time: Rymdkapsel.

* The Milwaukee Experiment: What can one prosecutor do about the mass incarceration of African-Americans?

* The academic community has talked itself into a very strange corner with regards to adjunctification. “Respect” is just not a good rallying point: unquantifiable, unsatisfiable, turns political struggle into emotional one. The focus should stay on the system that produces adjunct jobs instead of full-time permanent ones.

* This report that administration and construction are not significant factors in rising tuition seems totally off to me. You’re dividing by different denominators in 2001 and 2011; that masks the magnitude of the change, but also hides new spending in real terms. The last student you add should be your cheapest student: all the infrastructure is in place, you’re just adding one more. But these numbers show the opposite trend: spending at colleges is increasing even given efficiencies gained by adding more students.

* CFP: The Superhero Project.

‘The Game Done Changed’: Reconsidering ‘The Wire’ Amidst the Baltimore Uprising.

* If you, like us, lusted after the art deco tiling and rose-colored lighting of the Grand Budapest Hotel lobby, or drooled over the yellow Parisian hotel room in Hotel Chevalier, here’s some enchanting news: Wes Anderson has designed a bar.

Bardolatry as Idolatry.

NSA mass phone surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden ruled illegal.

* Andrew Cuomo, pretty corrupt.

* So are the Patriots.

An Atlas of Upward Mobility Shows Paths Out of Poverty.

The Poverty Capitalism Creates.

As investigation enters fifth month, Tamir Rice’s mother has moved into a homeless shelter. Online activists raised $60K for Tamir Rice’s family — so where did all that money go?

* The End of LSU.

* If you want a vision of the future.

Some of the people ostensibly turning in those 80- or 90-hour workweeks, particularly men, may just be faking it.

The Secret Lives of Homeless Students.

Ten percent of you were meant to be police officers. You have it in your blood and bones and you will excel in this profession. For 80% of you, this is a job. It’s a job you will do well and honorably for your career with the NYPD. Ten percent of you should never have made it this far. You are too dumb, too damaged, or too criminal to be police officers and you very well will be hurt, killed, or arrested in the years to come.

The Hater’s Guide To Avengers: Age of Ultron. Are you Over the Avengers Yet? Ultron Has Always Been a Dumb Character, and That’s Okay. Even Whedon isn’t into it.

Leaked Email From Marvel CEO Is A Listicle About Why Women Can’t Be Superheroes.

* Reading the Black Captain America (both of them).

Joss Whedon Didn’t Quit Twitter Because of All the Mean Feminists.

In defense of the Mommy Track.

Urban fiction, or street lit, has been snubbed by the publishing industry and scorned by black intellectuals. Yet these authors may just be the most successful literary couple in America.

‘Comedy Bang-Bang’s’ Scott Aukerman: From ‘Screwing Around’ to a Podcast Empire.

Parents call cops on teen for giving away banned book; it backfires predictably.

The Pink and Blue Projects: Exploring the Genderization of Color.

* I really liked TNI’s “Trash” issue, though it gets Oscar the Grouch all wrong.

* Did a study find men’s beards are filled with poop?

We Accidentally Turned The Entire Statue Of Liberty Into A Battery.

Halo Players Spent Five Years Trying To Get Into An Empty Room.

* I’m glad that Facebook is choosing to publish such findings, but I cannot but shake my head about how the real findings are buried, and irrelevant comparisons take up the conclusion.

* A comics Kickstarter some of you might be interested in: Bizarre New World.

Lawmakers drop Walker’s plan to spin off UW governance.

Art Institute of Wisconsin to stop enrolling new students.

Remember when Gerber tried to market “baby food for teens?”

* What Was the Venus de Milo Doing With Her Arms?

Joan Would Have Lost Her Sexual Harassment Suit Against McCann Erickson. Assholes of Mad Men’s McCann pay dividends for real-life McCann.

Q: What do the US, Somalia, and South Sudan have in common? A: It’s totally cool to put kids in jail forever.

Academic Freedom and Tenure: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Health Insurance Companies Are Illegally Charging for Birth Control.

Report: Most College Football Concussions Happen in Practice.

* Nothing gold can stay be allowed to just be a good thing that happened one time.

Essential Reading: “I Am Error” Brings New Insight to the History of the NES.

From graduation to garbage job (literally): One twentysomething’s struggle.

The source of strange radio signals that have left astronomers at Australia’s most famous radio telescope scratching their heads for 17 years has finally been discovered. It turns out that it was a microwave oven.

“My father felt the U.S.S.R. treated him better than America,” said Tynes-Mensah, a former university chemistry instructor who was born in the Russian town of Krasnodar and now lives mainly in the United States, spending summers in Russia. “He was happy here.”

* How to lie with statistics, Nicholas Kristof edition.

* Portrait of a suicide at UPenn.

* You Oughta Know Dave Coulier Will Be On Fuller House.

Woman Who Tweeted ‘2 Drunk 2 Care’ Before Fatal Crash Gets 24 Years.

Galadriel, Witch-Queen of Lórien.

In “Let Us Now Praise Famous Orcs,” I suggested that the basic humanity of Tolkien’s inhuman creatures proved them to be more worthy of our sympathy than the elves, “whose near-perfection marks them with a profound otherness.” As immortals, elves are always playing a long game in which we finite beings cannot ever hope to be much more than pawns. The characters who seem most aware of this fact in The Lord of the Rings are, in fact, the orcs, as is tellingly revealed in the dialogue between Gorbag and Shagrat. They lament having to work for “Big Bosses,” remember the “bad old times” when elves besieged them, and make hopeful plans for a postwar future in which there are “no big bosses.” In their fear and loathing of aristocrats and high powers, these orcs express thoroughly modern, even vaguely democratic sentiments. The Witch-Queen of Lórien, much like the dark Lord of Mordor, champions a different social order entirely. I am not entirely sure that Galadriel’s vision for how the world system should be organized is necessarily the better one. For those of us who are in favor of changing the world, Galadriel and her coterie of hereditary aristocrats represent the enemy, a power to be overcome, and her “long defeat” cannot come soon enough.

* The Magicians is coming to SyFy.

Sheriffs Threaten Retaliation If The Price Of Prisoner Phone Calls Is Regulated.

* Starving the beast: The UNC system in 2015.

* There are no tough choices.

Meet the outsider who accidentally solved chronic homelessness.

* Meet the original patent troll.

* The vanishing of Molly Norris.

* Empty, Lonely Nothingness. Forever: Understanding the Fermi Paradox.

A Cancer Survivor Designs the Cards She Wishes She’d Received From Friends and Family.

* Get my checkbook! Original drawings depicting iconic Martians from HG Wells’s sci-fi masterpiece The War of the Worlds are on sale for £350,000.

Edit of the Day: Footloose Without the Music Turns Kevin Bacon Into a Maniac.

* Deleted Scenes of Women in Disaster Movies Written by Men.

* Get me Thomas Pynchon: Aide to Kamala Harris arrested for pretending to run 3,000-year-old rogue police force.

* Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot.

Fracking Chemicals Detected in Pennsylvania Drinking Water. More North Carolina Residents Warned Of Contaminated Drinking Water. Horribly bleak study sees ‘empty landscape’ as large herbivores vanish at startling rate. A future without chocolate.

* Only the super-rich can save us now.

McDonald’s to reverse declining sales with more attractive Hamburglar.

These Suburban Preppers Are Ready for Anything.

* Bill Clinton has an exciting new greatest regret of his presidency.

Someone made Game of Thrones into a Google map, and it’s amazing.

Native Americans Say This Man Enslaved Them. Pope Francis Wants To Call Him A Saint.

Which President Greenlit A Trip To The Center Of The Earth?

* The LEGO sublime.

* And a dark, gritty Sliders I wish had gone to series: Parallels. By one of the creators of The Lost Room, which I also wish had gone to series!

Written by gerrycanavan

May 8, 2015 at 8:08 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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What Day Is It? Links

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* Later today, at UC Davis: Environments & Societies: Gerry Canavan, “Science Fiction and Utopia in the Anthroposcene.”

Marquette Protest on Diversity, University Seal.

The LAO and Permanent University Austerity.

* Proclaims British economist Noreena Hertz, who recently surveyed more than 1,000 teenage girls in the United States and England: “This generation is profoundly anxious.”

* Failing the entire class.

* Rebirth of the Research University.

* Our research indicates children learn 4% more efficiently when being slowly boiled alive.

* Natalia Cecire on resilience and unbreakability.

2015-04-29 12.20.23 amThe Brutality of Police Culture in Baltimore. The Mysterious Death of Freddie Gray. Nonviolence as Compliance. Images of the Unrest in Baltimore. “I Blame The Department.” “Those Kids Were Set Up.” The Baltimore Riots Didn’t Start the Way You Think. In Freddie Gray’s Baltimore neighborhood, half of the residents don’t have jobs. Why Baltimore Rebelled.

How Often Do Officers Lie Under Oath?

Police Cadet Turns in Cop for Turning Body Cam Off Just Before Pummeling his Victim.

Sneaky crosswalk law in Los Angeles is a tax for the crime of being poor.

How Photography Was Optimized for White Skin Color.

The disturbing differences in what men want in their wives and their daughters.

* It was a group assignment for four of them, but one of them did any actual work.

The Shining, Retold as an Atari 2600 Game.

If a bug in a slot machine says you’ve won $41.8m, can you claim it? Not in the case of Pauline McKee, 90, denied the payout after Iowa’s supreme court sided with the house.

* I didn’t become a doctor for the money.

* Netflix’s numbers are much less impressive than you would have thought.

I will burn this fucking place to the ground before I get rid of that mirror.

* The struggle is real: Zoo Keeper Helps Constipated Monkey Pass Peanut By Licking Its Butt For An Hour.

* Your Tumblr of the day: Samplerman.

* “Sucralose, better known as Splenda, and acesulfame potassium, which is often called Ace K”: parent, talk to your kids about drugs.

Men Accused of Sexual Assault Face Long Odds When Suing Colleges for Gender Bias.

Jane Goodall Says SeaWorld ‘Should Be Closed Down.’

* Wisconsin’s roads are the third-worst in the nation. That’s pretty grim: how could two different states possibly be worse?

* Sounds like Age of Ultron will disappoint you twice.

* Scenes from the class struggle in California.

Who created Caitlin Snow on #TheFlash? According to @DCComics, nobody.

* And why not him? The Bernie Sanders Decade.

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Weekend Links!

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South Carolina Officer Is Charged With Murder of Walter Scott. The police can’t police themselves. And now the public is too scared to cooperate with them. Police Reform Is Impossible in America. The Police Are America’s Terrorists. Man Who Recorded Walter Scott Murder Is Worried Police May Kill Him. White America’s Silence on Police Brutality Is Consent.

Montreal professors stare down riot cops.

Colleges are raising costs because they can.

How self-segregation and concentrated affluence became normal in America.

How to survive a mega-drought.

The Last Time Oceans Got This Acidic This Fast, 96% of Marine Life Went Extinct.

None of the world’s top industries would be profitable if they paid for the natural capital they use.

In The Midst Of Toxic Oil Spill, Vancouver Announces It Will Go 100 Percent Renewable.

Report: Hillary Clinton Overlooked Labor Violations After Millions in Donations. Guess what I’m #ready for?

* Is Hillary Clinton even any good at running for president?

The Assistant Economy.

Elizabeth Warren Is Right About Everything.

The Columbia Report on Rolling Stone‘s Rape Story Is Bad for Journalism.

The Brontosaurus Is Back. Take that, science!

A Map Showing UFO Hot Spots Across The United States.

The analysis concluded that, over the past 10 years, the five pension funds have paid more than $2 billion in fees to money managers and have received virtually nothing in return, Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said in an interview on Wednesday.

The man who was accidentally released from prison 88 years early.

What Was On a 1920s Membership Application for the KKK?

Haunted by The Handmaid’s Tale.

* On correcting the Bible.

Wired proves the laws of physics don’t apply to Legolas.

Videogame Publishers: No Preserving Abandoned Games, Even for Museums and Archives, Because All “Hacking” is Illegal.

* Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to get even more boring spinoff. If that’s possible.

Memorial for the “Unknown Deserter” – Potsdam, Germany.

The Photographer Who Took This Picture Barely Escaped With His Life.

This Probably Made Up Reddit Story About a Potato Is Incredibly Good.

* There’s nothing sweet in life.

* Lili Loofbourow takes the bait on the “is that all there is?” Mad Men and boredom thinkpiece. Also from Lili: You Should Be Watching ‘Fortitude,’ A Murder-Mystery That Makes Climate Change The Real Villain.

Arrested Development returning for 17 episodes, according to Brian Grazer.

* A cheat sheet for figuring out where in the US you are by recognizing the background from movies.

12 Ways Humanity Could Destroy The Entire Solar System.

* And I really hope they catch him this time.

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Notes Towards a Miss Reading of Kimmy Schmidt

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Seeing this review of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt at the Los Angeles Review of Books has inspired me to finally write up some somewhat idiosyncratic thoughts I’ve had about the series that I haven’t seen reflected anywhere else. (And thanks to the people who have indulged me about this on Twitter, especially @millicentsomer and @evankindley.) I definitely agree with the reviewer that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a “woman out of time” story, but I really think the interpretive emphasis on “Unfrozen Middle Schooler from the 1990s” should be on “middle schooler” rather than “from the 1990s.” My take is that the 1990s nostalgia is largely driven by the Millennial audience the show is pitching itself at — it’s an engine for jokes but not really the center of the project. “Unfrozen Middle Schooler,” in contrast, is the actual heart of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, at least the way I want to read it as a feminist work.

One of the things I talked about with Lili and Evan on Twitter was whether Kimmy’s abduction is taken seriously as an event or if the bunker is taken seriously as an actual lived environment. Having completed the series now, I still don’t think so: I think “the bunker” essentially functions in the series like being in a coma, or being shot with a Grow-Up Beam, or making a wish to be Big. It’s a magic spell to get Kimmy from middle school to adulthood without having to go through high school and college, which is the source of her power in the series, from her refusal of the usual rules of society to her love of backpacks and bright, mismatched clothing. You can see this utopian imaginary working really clearly in the incredibly infectious theme song, where the removal of the girls from the bunker and a closeup on Kimmy’s ecstatic childlike grin over the lyrics “Unbreakable! They alive, damnit! It’s a miracle!” quickly gives way to a montage of nostalgic, home-video-style images of childhood (and specifically girlhood), which express the same unvarnished joy but also absolute self-confidence (thumb’s up), total mastery of their environment (the dancing, the hula hooping, the monkey bars), and maximum resilience in the face of adversity (the baby plopping down face first).

We return to the in-universe “autotune the news” frame only once during this thirty-second sequence, to be told that “females are strong as hell” — the clear implication to me being that we ought to draw an interpretive connection between the claim of female power and childhood, specifically, girlhood: before sex, before even puberty, before the male gaze, before pervert teachers and abusive boyfriends and quasi-consensual sexual encounters and ubiquitous street harassment and the too-familiar host of other abuses inflicted upon women from the moment they enter young adulthood. What the magic spell of the bunker allows Kimmy to do is pass over the moment in which girls are forcibly conscripted into becoming “women” (somewhat or entirely against their will) and emerge instead as an adult who has not internalized our society’s misogyny or its mean, psychosexual aggressivity. So much of what is delightful about Kimmy is precisely the fact that she has retained the aspirations, expectations, confidence, and general affect of a precocious middle-schooler without having had to temper or diminish herself through unhappy experiences with patriarchy. If the show has a moral or utopian message for women, it’s Let’s all go back to thinking about ourselves the way we did before society told us we were worthless, and it’s a pretty damn good one.

We’ve been working with children’s stories a lot in my “magic as literature” course this semester, and one of the oppositions we’ve really been focusing on (especially as we’ve studied Disney, and Frozen, recently) is the opposition between what mythographers call “the girl’s tragedy” and what we’ve been calling instead the utopia of childhood or (here more directly) the utopia of girlhood. The girl’s tragedy is the female answer to “the hero’s journey,” but the narrative doesn’t work the same way: instead of the boy hero who sets out from home, masters the outside world, slays the dragon, and then returns home to become king, the girl’s tragedy is a story about being ripped from safety and forced to accommodate oneself to the whims of adult men, particularly their sexual urges. The happy ending for the girl’s tragedy — the happiest one available — is that she accepts her role as wife and mother and gives birth to a male son who will then inaugurate the next cycle of heroism; girls and women who refuse to play the proper role are typically cast out of the realm of the human altogether, turned into animals or plants or stars or foam. The utopia of childhood describes those comparatively rare stories that are exceptions, where the girls are neither forced to become mothers nor punished, but allowed to remain what they were without transformation by instead bending the adult world to their will (as in Brave, or Moonrise Kingdom, or arguably Frozen, though in most of these the girl-heroes seem only to buying themselves time rather than enacting a full and permanent transformation of their circumstances).

Of course the utopia of childhood can itself be deeply retrograde, and is frequently misogynistic in its way — we spent a lot of time on “The Problem of Susan” in the Narnia books precisely so we didn’t fall too in love with the impossible fantasy of never growing up (when in the end we all have to). Nor can we safely imagine childhood in such uncomplicatedly rosy terms, both because childhood can also be a time of fierce frustration, competition, and intense pain even when it is not actively shattered through the cruelty and abuse of adults. But all the same there is something undeniably appealing about the idea of returning to a childhood that is both happy and which never gives way to something else, a desire that structures so much of our culture (particularly the middle-class culture of “good parenting”) that it really almost goes without saying. And in the case of Kimmy Schmidt‘s feminist politics of course the idea is not that women find some fantastical way to literally de-age themselves so much as they look to their younger, effortlessly capable and supremely confident selves as inspiration in the present.

There’s one more thing to say about Kimmy Schmidt, which is again about the abduction and the bunker, which would seem to be a rather large problem for my reading of the series. Isn’t Kimmy’s entire situation itself a literalized girl’s tragedy, insofar as she is abducted as a child and put into radical seclusion, all the while being fed obscenely misogynistic lies by a woman-hating male adult? Well, yes! The question of Kimmy’s abduction, and the horrific sexual violence it inevitably implies if thought about too much, is a pretty thorny one for the series: fixated on too much, it threatens to derail any potential for comedy in the show at all. (UPDATE: Someone just sent me Emily Nussbaum’s review, which talks a lot about this issue.) The series cleverly solves the problem by opening the door just a crack — “yes, there was weird sex stuff in the bunker” — and then simply leaving it there. Something happened — perhaps, as Evan suggested in what has become my headcanon, it was all between the girls and not involving the preacher at all — but it hasn’t changed Kimmy, or defeated her. And she emerges from Hell neither pregnant with the monster’s baby, nor transformed into a weeping plant or into sea-foam, but just as unflappable and unbreakable as she was when she went in.

And in any event the treatment of the bunker doesn’t really work the way the ten-second summary of the setup would suggest. The presence of the preacher is actually a further occasion for Kimmy to refuse to internalize her sexist training, precisely because it is now located within a single, odious man against whom she can fight. The button at the end of the first episode demonstrates precisely this: Kimmy proves he is lying to them, he says he’s going to break her someday, and she replies no, he never will. It’s easy to see why, in contrast to the microaggressions and little indignities — alongside the very big ones — that make up girls’ training to be women in our society, which is constantly delivered by parents and siblings and friends and trusted authority figures and widely celebrated mass culture texts, Kimmy’s more direct training in misogyny at the hands of the Reverend never really takes. In the bunker she had an obvious enemy, someone she could tell she was feeding her poison, and so she could reject it. It’s actually outside the bunker where the true brainwashing takes place, which is all the more insidious because it seems like education, like help, like love.

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