Negotiating Oral History, Documentary, and Journalism

I realize I haven’t been blogging on this site regularly for a while, and this post is going to venture into far more pointy-headed territory than normal. But as I’m moving toward transforming the feature length documentary into a book and interactive film grounded in oral history research, I think its important to share my thoughts and process.

This post was inspired by a series of conversations, where it became increasingly clear that I was working in an area that wasn’t entirely transparent to the narrators who are sharing their stories with me. I’m hoping this will help clarify things for them, and for me.

 

In June of this year, the Oral History Society held its annual conference in Belfast. The theme? Dangerous oral histories. The conference organizers were concerned with physical dangers and risks when gathering and sharing oral narratives, but also about the fragile emotional ground for both oral historians and interview participants, or narrators, when conduction oral history interviews and research.

That ground becomes even more fragile when working at the intersection of oral history and documentary.

I think it’s incredibly important to recognize that the feature length film Pin Up! The Movie, while based in oral narratives, is still a documentary at its heart. By this I mean it has a structured narrative, with a three act structure (beginning, middle, and end). In the film I follow two sets of women involved in pin up culture. A group in Colorado was competing to win the pin up contest at the 1940s Ball in Denver. The second group was in California, where I was following a new model to her first professional pin up shoot and publication with an established photographer.

Both “stories” were contrived in a way. The Ball (and its contest) was one of the first things I shot for the film. In other words, I knew how that story was going to end before I really began. For the pin up shoot, the photographer held a casting call where women learned pin up hair and makeup techniques. She and I consulted with who should be “cast” for the final shoot after looking at her proofs from the day. While I contributed who would be a good “talker” (based on quick interviews with the women) and made suggestions, she had the final say.

But because it was a documentary, I also took control of the story shaping in the editing suite. The people participating had little say, and only saw the assembled film once it was completed. I tried to be fair, but I was also the “auteur.”

Mitzi (left) with some of the pin ups she’s shot with (and who are in the film) on the red carpet: Ashleeta, Bang Bang Von Loola, Miss Emilie, Leslye Rox, Miss Rockwell De Vil and Sydney Ralston (with slurpee).

But during this process, I struggled. The project, initially conceived of as a stand alone documentary and website, eventually seemed to morph into a more interactive, online entity. And as such, my own approach would change. The interactive film didn’t need a traditional story line — by nature it was non-linear with no clear beginning, middle, or end. Users could navigate as they saw fit. The individual could have more control of her story.

In other words, the interactive film began to look a whole lot more like an oral history project.

Oral history, in the words of Alessandro Portelli, is “history telling.” By that he means organizing what had been told in the past, perhaps to family and friends, into a coherent narrative. It is also, as Ron Grele notes, a “shared authority” between the narrator and the oral historian, with each having equal weight as to the interpretation of historical events. As an oral historian I cannot discount the theories of individuals about their lives.

I also am tasked with inserting the work into the public sphere. Oral histories do little to advance “history from below” by sitting in an archive. It’s important for the public to hear the interviews with individuals in their own voices.

The process looks very different than a documentary film, in that narrators are given copies of the interview transcripts (and often the interviews themselves) which they can edit and use as they see fit. This is their individual life story, after all. It’s important to make sure the story is told accurately and allow them to maintain copyright of that story.

While the journalist in me (I’ve spent two decades in the field) worried about interviewees attempting to retract some or all of their interview in order to sanitize history, the reality is that the editing usually is relatively minor stuff, like fixing a date that is incorrect, or correcting spoken grammar to written norms. When someone wanted to remove an important anecdote, I would explain to them why the anecdote was important from a scholarly perspective. Only once has a person insisted a portion of her story be removed, and that was only because she had been the victim of identity theft and feared the culprit could find her again. Narrators can withdraw from participation at any time.

Oral history is also a profoundly feminist activity. And by feminist, I mean feminism that considers a variety of perspectives and experiences and doesn’t privilege one over the other (I’m personally working from the fourth wave perspective). I need to find what is missing in a given story and bring people in to help fill that hole. My role as an oral historian isn’t to make judgements, or to say that one person is right or another wrong. Instead, my role is to find patterns and themes, and attempt to understand a community holistically.

For this particular project, that meant trying to find what was missing. The feature film featured few people from out of the United States, and while it had a strong representation of people of color, it still wasn’t a satisfactory number to me. I knew there were transsexual pin ups, but I had none represented in the traditional documentary.

I worked hard to remedy that in the interactive project for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, I strongly believe that seeing diversity in media projects helps to increase receptivity to diversity in the “real” world. Second, the experiences of pin ups in Taipei or Norway may be radically different from those in Southern California. Ditto pin ups from marginalized communities. I paid special attention to making sure that the project wasn’t just made up of white women from Western capitalist societies. It’s not tokenism, but rather making sure that all aspects of the culture are there. A variety of perspectives means my analysis and work can be richer and more complete.

A former professor once told me that you keep doing interviews in a project until you stop hearing something new. I took that approach into this project (and am still interviewing because I’m still hearing “new” stuff).

Photo by Michael Dooley

What was weird in this situation is that it started as a film about a subculture; a subculture with an active social media presence. In the filmmaking process I became involved with the (mostly online) community in ways that I hadn’t in other projects. Documentary and oral history work is always intimate. I personally don’t know how scholars or filmmakers avoid personal connections and friendships with the people they’re collaborating with. But for this project it became even more intense, likely because these encounters were morphing into my own online presence. I’m involved with private groups on Facebook, and regularly text or message people who are part of the project about non-project related things.

In other words, I felt like many of the women I met were becoming friends.

Hence the danger. I’m treading on treacherous ground.

The back end of the interactive documentary.

My producer and I presented on the interactive documentary project at the International Oral History Association in Finland this past June. We talked about the ways the online documentary offered collaborative potential for oral historians seeking to put their work in the public sphere. Full interviews can go on a website, and the process offers numerous ways to edit and contextualize in a more user-friendly format than a bricks and mortar archive or even a book.

Afterwards, one of the audience members asked me, “Are you sharing the interviews and transcripts with the narrators?” I paused for a moment, but almost immediately realized the answer had to be “yes.” Again, this isn’t so that they can change their stories and sanitize their lives, but rather so that they can share in the storytelling process.

Does that mean as a scholar I’m going to sit back and pretend I don’t have opinions or observations? Of course not! I’ve already heard a variety of things that complicate my analysis and work: inconsistencies between interviews and public actions, ideological blind spots, or approaches that I personally think are unrealistic. My job as a scholar isn’t to judge, but to tease out patterns (do certain sub-demographics think a certain way, even among people with the best intentions) and offer context and analysis when looking at the interviews as a whole. If there are problems, even among the best intentioned, I will point those out.

And I’m also going to self-critically look at my own role in this whole process. I’ve already made mistakes and will likely make more. Discounting them would do my narrators a disservice.

It’s the least I can do for this culture that has so willingly shared so much with me.

 

 

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Happy Fourth — The Müscleheaded Blog

Loving this post from a year ago by our friends at the Müscleheaded Blog. Be sure to click through and see all of the images. Happy July 4th!

Hiya and a Happy Fourth of July to you !!!!!! You might just have figured that we here at ” The Müscleheaded Blog ” would have come up with something completely appropriate for the holiday, and, since you asked — Oh sure, maybe some people would consider it inappropriate — As for me, I just can’t […]

via Happy Fourth — The Müscleheaded Blog

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A Year in Pin Up – 2017

Time for the annual best-of list. So here are the highlights for our 2017 Year in Pin Up.

Week. By. Week


Week 1: January 1-7


The week we learned about the man-eating singing mermaids musical film. #swoon


Week 2: January 8-14

gypsy-rose-lee-performing

This photo of Gypsy Rose Lee. Well, it was her birthday…..


Week 3: January 15-21

The week more than 3 million women around the U.S. marched against racism, sexism and bigotry.


Week 4: January 22-28

o9jaa

The week we lost Mary Tyler Moore. RIP.


Week 5: January 29-February 4

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The week of Bang Bang Von Loola’s pirate adventures.


Week 6: February 5-11

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That week of Mainbocher …

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…and screenings in Illinois


Week 7: February 12-18

Circa 1950s. From vintagegal.tumblr.com.

Circa 1950s. From vintagegal.tumblr.com.

That week we sealed everything with a kiss.


Week 8: February 19-25

The week of Amazon Barbie.


Week 9: February 26-March 4

That week we worshiped Janelle Monae’s panniers.

And Emma Stone’s fringe.


Week 10: March 5-11

That week we were all about lifting women up.


Week 11: March 12-18

Our director with Ginger Rose.

The week of the screening in NoCo.


Week 12: March 19-25

Lauren Dukoff for Harper’s Bazaar.

That week we said sexiness comes from confidence.

#nobodyshaming


Week 13: March 26-April 1

Miss Dotty DeMure by by JRM Photography (left) and Jill Kerswill Photography (right) via the Nylon Swish.

The week we put on our stockings.


Week 14: April 2-8

The week we discovered the Old Milwaukee pin up beer cans.


Week 15: April 9-15

The week we discovered burlesque mermaids.


Week 16: April 16-22



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That week we were all about gender bending.

Because, makeup.


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And princess dresses.

Oh, and tattoos.


Week 17: April 22-29

That week we closed out a film festival.

And won best documentary

#BareBones


Week 18: April 30-May 6

Rita Ora. Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

The week we swooned over this.

Oh, and did a little thing called a podcast….


Week 19: May 7-13

Bellocq.

Bellocq. It was always Bellocq.


Week 20: May 14-20

Whitney Bell’s show “I Didn’t Ask For This: A Lifetime of Dick Pics.” Photo by Michael Mendoza for Vice.

The week of dick pics.


Week 21: May 21-27


A scene from a vigil outside the Town Hall in Manchester, England, on May 23.
Leon Neal/Getty Images

The week Ariana Grande became an unintentional symbol for people attempting to shut down the voices and empowerment of girls and young women.

We still ache for Manchester.


Week 22: May 28-June 3

Did you really need to ask?


Week 23: June 4-10

I still say the shorts would look hella better with flip flops.


Week 24: June 11-17

Angelique Noire by Tibrina Hobson/Getty

That week we celebrated black pin ups.


Week 25: June 18-24

The week boys at Exeter protested their uniforms…. by wearing skirts.


Week 26: June 25-July 1

 

Le clitoris – Animated Documentary (2016) from Lori Malépart-Traversy on Vimeo.

The week we discovered Le Clitoris


Week 27: July 2-8

The week we went vintage for July 4th.


Week 28: July 9-15

The week we saw I Love Lucy in color.


Week 29: July 16-22

June Rivas dressed in cosplay after her boss told her a headscarf and ponytail were “unprofessional.”

Because we’re all about cosplay… and fighting back against the system.


Week 30: July 23-29


When we met the Rolling Stones.


Week 31: July 30-August 5


Rose McGowan. Betty Boop. This made our week.


Week 32: August 6-12

Ashley Graham as seen in the New Yorker.

Two words: Ashley Graham.


Week 33: August 13-19

The back end of the pages and media files for the interactive online documentary for Pin Up! The Movie.

The week we launched our interactive documentary.


Week 34: August 20-26


Selena Gomez’s BTS of Fetish really caught your eye.


Week 35: August 27-September 2

Meet the LadyByrds. Girl band. Topless. #firsts


Week 36: September 3-9


*sigh* Paris Blues. With Louis Armstrong, Sydney Poitier and Paul Newman.


Week 37: September 10-16

Weegee (Arthur Fellig)/International Center of Photography via Getty Images)

Weegee + movie theaters + infrared + 1940s = photographic gold.


Week 38: September 17-23

Al Brule, September 1941

We KNEW you really liked #CalendarWednesday.


Week 39: September 24-30

Ernest Chiriaka 1954

Like really really liked Calendar Wednesday.


Week 40: October 1-7

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THIS. From AJ+ on Facebook.


Week 41: October 8-14

Courtesy Messy Nessy Chic.

The week of Friday the 13th. During October. And five places where you don’t want to get stuck.


Week 42: October 14-21

Melanie Greensmith of Wheels and Dollbaby. Photo: Steven Siewert

The week Wheels and Dollbaby called it quits.


Week 43: October 22-28

Carrie Fisher. The Last Jedi. Why General Leia is important. #imnotcryingyourecrying


Week 44: October 29-November 4

This seasonal gif.


Week 45: November 5-11

The week we celebrated Veteran’s Day, and remembered the women who served in the US Navy as WAVES.


Week 46: November 12-18

Esther García López / TetraTheRipper

The week we were reminded why it’s so important for an artist to get credit for her work.


Week 47: November 19-25

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Because who doesn’t need Prince roller skates?


Week 48: November 26-December 2


Rita Heyworth. The Bee Gees. ‘Nuf said.


Week 49: December 3-9

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Just watch. It’s mesmerizing.


Week 50: December 10-16

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Meet the girl behind Alice in Wonderland.


Week 51: December 17-23


I’m looking for the sequel: revenge of the model.


Week 52: December 24-30

That week we (FINALLY) released our “Girls Like That” music video.

*SWAK*

 

 

 

 

 

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The 2017 Girl Power List

Last year we we started what has become our new tradition: a year-end look back at feminist icons from the past year. Because, #girlpower

January – Carmen Dell’Orefice 

Kristy Sparrow for Getty Images.

When an 85-year-old model takes to the catwalk – and rocks it – she’s making a pretty big statement about beauty and power in a youth-obsessed industry.

Dell’Orefice closed out Chinese couturier Guo Pei’s show at Paris Couture Week in January. Looking like a goddess. Adorned by two boy toys.

She started modeling at age 15. And last year she joked to Harper’s Bazaar:

I’m going for 105, then I’ll see if I want to change professions.

PLEASE.

February – Elizabeth Warren

Associated Press.

Who knew a little-known Senate rule would end up spawning a rallying cry for feminism?

Elizabeth Warren was in the midst of speaking against Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions on the Senate floor in February when Republicans decided enough was enough and attempted to shut her down.

But she didn’t stop talking willingly.

Warren was reading a letter from Coretta Scott King (from 1986) opposing Sessions as a federal judge. Senator Steve Daines tried to get her to stop, saying the letter was damaging to Sessions’ reputation… and in party-line vote to uphold a Senate rule, Warren was forced to stop speaking.

But it was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s explanation that then went viral… for all the wrong reasons.

She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.

And a new slogan was born.

Bustle.

March – Chrissy Metz

Lauren Dukoff for Harper’s Bazaar.

We’ve talked a lot this year about Chrissy Metz and her pin-up inspired photo shoot. But what’s important to remember here is that the This is Us star wasn’t doing this to somehow call attention to herself or advocate for fat acceptance.

No.

She was doing it for a whole other reason. As she told Harper’s Bazaar.

I’m on this journey to inspire people, and to encourage them. If you can’t love who you are now, you can’t get to the place you want to be. It’s a daily lesson for all of us. I’m paving the way for other women and men who know they’re destined for greatness but they don’t believe it yet.

That’s something that extends beyond body type, race or gender. She’s talking about confidence.

And that’s sexy.

April – Sonia Moy

Sylvia Moy and Stevie Wonder, with, behind from left, James Jamerson, Earl Van Dyke and Robert White of the Funk Brothers, in 1967. Credit Motown Records Archives

When I heard about Sonia Moy’s death this past April, I thought “Why the hell haven’t I heard more about this amazing woman?” She was one of the record company’s first female producers, and wrote hits for so many artists, including Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and the Isley Brothers.

In fact, she helped Wonder jumpstart his career after his voice changed, and people thought that maybe his career was over. The two worked together and came up with “Uptight.”

Wonder told Rolling Stone after her death

Sylvia Moy has made it possible to enrich my world of songs with some of the greatest lyrics. But, not only that, she, through her participation and our co-writing those songs, helped me become a far better writer of lyrics.

Moy left Mowtown in 1973, and signed with Columbia Records.

She died April 15th. Moy was 78… and left a legacy of amazing music.

May – Ariana Grande

(Valerie Macon / AFP/Getty Images)

The Manchester terror attack was more than just extremists attempting to sow fear in one of the UK’s largest cities. It was also a direct assault on the power of girls and young women.

And so Ariana Grande became the unintentional symbol for that power, and fighting back.

As Christina Cauterucci wrote in Slate, Grande’s very public persona celebrates a “blissful, unsubdued feminine sexuality”:

Terrorism works by making people afraid to go about their daily lives, doing the things that make them feel human and whole: going to work, shopping at the mall, traveling by plane, dancing to Latin music at a gay club, singing along to a fun pop tune that lets young women envision themselves as powerful, sexual beings.

The pop star spoke out in the days following the attack:

We will never be able to understand why events like this take place because it is not in our nature, which is why we shouldn’t recoil. We will not quit or operate in fear. We won’t let this divide us. We won’t let hate win.

Grande later scheduled a benefit concert for the victims, and visited survivors in the hospital.

The bombing killed 22 people.

June – Patty Jenkins

Director Patty Jenkins as seen in the Hollywood Reporter. Photographed by Miller Mobley.

It would be easy to name the very public face of the Wonder Woman film in our girl power year in review. But the real superhero here is director Patty Jenkins.

She’s the person who became the first women to helm a comic book action film. The woman who holds the title of top grossing film directed by a woman.

Jenkins and Godot on set. Warner Brothers Entertainment.

It’s sad in many ways that we’re talking about these firsts in 2017. But the reality is that Hollywood is still a boy’s club. Only one woman has ever won the Oscar for Best Director. ONE.  In 2016, women made up just 7 percent of all directors on the top 250 films, according to Celluloid Ceiling, a report out of San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. That’s a 2 percent decline from 2015

Jenkins is aware of her role as a trailblazer. As she told The Hollywood Reporter:

There have been things that have crossed my path that seemed like troubled projects. And I thought, ‘If I take this, it’ll be a big disservice to women. If I take this knowing it’s going to be trouble and then it looks like it was me, that’s going to be a problem. If they do it with a man, it will just be yet another mistake that the studio made. But with me, it’s going to look like I dropped the ball, and it’s going to send a very bad message.’ So I’ve been very careful about what I take for that reason.

Jenkins and Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot are already contracted for a sequel.

July – Dukie Thot, Lupito Nyong’o, Ru-Paul and the cast of the 2018 Pirelli Calendar

Duckie Thot as Alice in the 2018 Pirelli calendar, photographed by Tim Walker.

The Pirelli calendar has transformed from a celebration of objectification to a more political beast in recent years. This year’s edition, released in July, featured an all-black cast of women (and men) reimagining Alice in Wonderland. From Nygono as the Doormouse to Whoopi Goldberg as the Royal Dutchess to Thot as Alice, the calendar was an attempt to, in the word of British Vogue editor Edward Enninful (who styled the shoot by photographer Tim Walker), behead old stereotypes and assumptions. As he told The New York Times:

Inclusivity is more part of the conversation than it has ever been before, but it goes far beyond black and white. It is about all creeds, all colors, all sizes and people just living their truths.

 

Ru-Paul as the Queen of Hearts in the 2018 Pirelli calendar, photographed by Tim Walker.

Or as Leomie Anderson said on Pirelli’s website:

In a world where women sometimes feel a sense of inequality, it is up to us to be our own Alice and create our own stories that will inspire others for generations to come.

Pretty big shoes for a calendar to fill.

August – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift and the groping incident. Via the New York Daily News.

One dollar. That’s what Taylor Swift won in her lawsuit against DJ Daniel Mueller for his groping of her at a meet and greet in Denver in 2013. And in the whole scheme of things a pop star’s lawsuit doesn’t really seem like much.

But it was just tipping point in what would eventually mushroom into the #MeToo movement – women who began speaking out about the pervasive sexual harassment that seems to go hand in hand with being a woman in the modern world. As she said in her testimony:

No, he did not touch my rib. He did not touch my hand. He touched my bare ass.

Of course Swift wasn’t fired for reporting about the groping, and she wasn’t physically harmed. But she also had a right to promote her music without being unwillingly grabbed on the butt.

September – Carmen Yulin Cruz

Carmen Yulin Cruz wades through water in the aftermath of Hurrican Maria. NBC News photo.

San Juan’s mayor was a force of nature in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Carmen Yulin Cruz used her platform, as mayor of the US Territory’s largest city, to beg for help from the federal government. In the days after the hurricane she said:

I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us, to save us from dying. This is a people-are-dying story.

Her ongoing criticism of the U.S. federal government’s response drew a Tweet-storm from President Donald Trump, who said

The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump. Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.

Carmen Yulin Cruz on Univision

Cruz defended herself by saying she was just asking for help, and later showed up on a television interview on Univision wearing a t-shirt that said, “Nasty.”

What is really nasty is that anyone would turn their back on the Puerto Rican people … That is not the land of the free and the home of the brave, the beacon of democracy that people have learned to look up to.

As she said in a hearing on Capitol Hill six weeks after the storm:

I am here to say what I was going to say at that hearing, that they seemed not to want to hear. Mr. Trump, do your job. Lives are at stake. This is not about politics. This is not about your ego. This is about the people of Puerto Rico and the people of the U.S. VI (Virgin Islands).

That’s a public servant.

October – #MeToo

By this time in the year, the floodgates opened on allegations of sexual harassment and assault. The New York Times story about Harvey Weinstein came out in early October, and suddenly it seemed as if every day there was a new allegation against men in power. It wasn’t always abuse against women (see Spacey, Kevin) and the abuse didn’t always end up with the accused masturbating into a potted plant (see Weinstein, Harvey), but the revelations painted a portrait of a deeply misogynistic world where women’s experiences are belittled and not believed.

LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 09: Actor Rose McGowan attends the screening of ‘Lady in the Dark’ during the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival on April 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. 26657_006 (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for TCM)

Among the developments:

  • Alyssa Milano encouraged other women to speak out simply by responding to her tweet using the #MeToo hashtag . In eight hours she had more than 30,000 responses.
  • Rose McGowan was temporarily banned from Twitter when speaking out against the abuse
  • Activist Tarana Burke, who created the MeToo movement in 2006, reminded people “We have to keep our focus on people of different class and race and gender.” In other words, abuse – and the ability to push back against it – manifests itself in different ways depending upon one’s own societal standing
  • By the end of the year, nearly 50 high-profile men had been accused of using their positions to assault and/or sexually harass women and men. Many had been fired or resigned from their jobs.

Activist Tarana Burke, founder of the MeToo movement.

November – Violet Chacki

Violet Chacki in Playful Promises.

The gender-fluid model Violet Chacki was used by Playful Promises to promote its Bettie Page collection of lingerie on social media.

And so, of course, out came the trolls.

Which gave Playful Promises a chance to hit back, noting that the pin up community needs to re-evaluate gender roles. And they added a bit of a history lesson.

We chose a gender fluid person that is not represented in the media, and certainly not in the lingerie industry … You can’t claim to be a fan of Bettie Page without acknowledging that what she was doing at the time was severely frowned upon. If you expect a brand named after her to do things by the book, you’re missing the point of what she stood for.

Amen.

December – Kelly Marie Tran

Tran with John Boyega in still from The Last Jedi.

It would seem that there would have been an Asian-American woman in featured role in a Star Wars film before 2017.  But Kelly Marie Tran was breaking boundaries as the year ended. She is the first Asian-American actress to star in a Star Wars movie, playing resistance fighter and mechanic Rose Tico.

She told USA Today:

We always hear these stories about people who are born into a specific position, like you’re the chosen one or you have a power or you are a hotshot. Rose represents this person who’s in the background. It’s really cool to see someone (like that) be forced into the forefront of the action and how she deals with it.

Vietnamese-born actress Veronica Ngo plays her sister in the film, a gunner.

Kelly Marie Tran poses with a First Order Stormtooper at the world premiere of ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi.’ (Photo: Alex J. Berliner, ABImages)

But what’s perhaps most exciting about all of this is the absolute joy Tran has had doing press for the film.  As she wrote on Instagram:

As weird as this sounds, my dumb, stupid little heart isn’t ready to say goodbye. I HAVE LOVED IT SO MUCH. 😢💔 But deep down, I know this moment doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to everyone who made this movie. Maybe even more, it belongs to anyone who has ever had a seemingly impossible dream, anyone who has ever loved a world outside of their own.

We’re feeling that force.

 

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Veteran’s Day

This is a repost of a blog that we wrote in 2011 on our sister blog Hinges of History. It explains the motivation behind our film Homefront Herorines, the WAVES of World War II. The US entered World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941.

Seventy years ago today (11/11/11), America wasn’t officially involved in World War II.  In less than a month, the country would be. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor would thrust the United States into the war and transform the country.

This is a photograph of my (Homefront Heroines Director Kathleen Ryan) mother, Mary Marovich Ryan. It was taken after she enlisted in the WAVES. She came from a large family and grew up on the south side of Chicago. They didn’t have much – it was the Depression and there were a lot of mouths to feed.

But as the war enlisted all of her brothers – except for her younger brother who was too young to join up – enlisted in the military. They joined the Army and the Coast Guard. Two of her brothers joined together. By the time my mother enlisted, every member of her family was in the service, except for that younger brother and a sister who was married with a young child (her younger brother would serve during the Korean War). I love her quote in the article below about wanting a six star pin so she can honor her brothers.

Those of you who have been following the Homefront Heroines project know that my mother didn’t talk much about her military service. I knew that enlisted in mid-1943. She went to New York for boot camp, and then traveled across country on a train to head to her specialty training at a Naval Hospital in California as a pharmacist’s mate. A pharmacist’s mate helped out in various  medical capacities; my mother actually worked in the pharmacy. She was stationed at Treasure Island in San Francisco where she met my father, a pilot in the Army Air Forces. She was decommissioned shortly after V-J Day, and she and my father eventually settled about an hour north of New York City in a town along the Hudson River.

But she kept things. Like these photographs (including the one above of a celebration at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco with a group of friends) and the articles about her service. Or a book discussing the properties of various prescription drugs. Or gloves. Dozens of pairs of white cotton gloves, which were part of the formal WAVES uniform. And before she died, she asked that she be buried with military honors, commemorated by a headstone listing her dates of service.

On this Veteran’s Day, we salute all of those who offered their service to our country, including those Homefront Heroines who blazed a trail for women in the future – in the military, of course, but also in the civilian workplace.

Don’t Fall In Love With My Body, Fall In Love With The Way I Think — Thought Catalog

The sentiments in this post from Thought Catalog are amazing!

Gabriel EcraelaI don’t want you to see me across the room and image your fingertips tracing my skin, or your lips on my mouth. I don’t want you to talk to me with wandering eyes, scanning over every part of me. I don’t want you to whisper in my ear, to coax me, to tell…

via Don’t Fall In Love With My Body, Fall In Love With The Way I Think — Thought Catalog

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These Insanely Impressive Pumpkin Carvings Take the Art to the Next Level — TIME

Amazing pumpkin art.

Halloween is still three weeks away, but you might as well put down your pumpkin-carving knife now. As Twitter user and fantasy author Kevin Hearne shared over the weekend, his “neighbors” have gone above and beyond in their spooky decorations for the fall holiday, displaying festive, fiery pumpkin-carving skills that are much more than your…

via These Insanely Impressive Pumpkin Carvings Take the Art to the Next Level — TIME

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Watch Baz Luhrmann’s New Short Film for H&M, Scored by Years & Years — Flavorwire

New Bax Luhrman via Flavorwire.

Baz Luhrmann, one of our foremost creators of pretty, empty things, has landed on his perfect gig: an extended commercial for a clothing line. “The Secret Life of Flowers” is a short film created by the Australian filmmaker for H&M’s new collaboration with London-based ready-to-wear brand Erdem. The four-minute clip echoes not only Luhrmann’s Great…

via Watch Baz Luhrmann’s New Short Film for H&M, Scored by Years & Years — Flavorwire