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The Politics of This Year’s Super Bowl

FEATURING STEPHANIE ABRAHAM - Sunday's Super Bowl game was watched by millions of Americans but overall, the game had an 8-year record low viewership. The National Football League has been a political flashpoint for a while and Sunday's game was seen as almost a proxy for the political mood of the nation. The Philadelphia Eagles won the game and some of their players are refusing to visit Donald Trump in the White House. The losing team's quarterback, Tom Brady, is a prominent Trump supporter. During the much-watched halftime show, pop star Pink sang a sugary version of the national anthem while some Eagles players stood raising their fists. Justin Timberlake also sang - his last Super Bowl performance was marked by his role in the so-called "wardrobe malfunction" of Janet Jackson. Super Bowl ads were significantly less political than last year's, but a commercial that used an MLK speech to

New Film Megan Leavey Focuses on Dog Not Iraqis

FEATURING STEPHANIE ABRAHAM - A new war-themed film just out in theaters repeats the tired trope of memorializing the heroism of US soldiers over the victims of war, except that in the case of Megan Leavey, a female soldier in Iraq is at the center along with her relationship to a dog named Rex. The film has been described as a, "touching, refreshingly apolitical military drama as a young Marine recruit ... finds her calling as a dog handler." But how can the Iraq war, where US soldiers claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, ever be "apolitical"? The desire to sanitize war, and even see it as a backdrop for feminism and women's empowerment is what jumps out from Megan Leavey. Stephanie Abraham is a writer and media critic, she helped found the feminist magazine make/shift and was the founding editor of the feminist magazine LOUDmouth. Her

Wonder Woman Review: Does It Stand Up To the Hype?

FEATURING STEPHANIE ABRAHAM - After decades of male-centered superhero movies, Hollywood has finally managed to release a female-centered one, and none other than the hero who has inspired countless girls and women for generations: Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman has returned to the big screen many decades after Lynda Carter first portrayed the feminist icon on film. Director by a woman - Patty Jenkins - this new Wonder Woman film features Israeli actress Gal Gadot in the lead. It has already broken box office records raking in more than $100 million in its first weekend in North America alone, and earning the distinction of being the biggest opening for a film directed by a woman in history. Does the new Wonder Woman film live up to the hype? Read Stephanie's review on Ms. Magazine HERE. Stephanie Abraham is a writer and media critic, she helped found the feminist magazine make/shift and was the

The Handmaid’s Tale TV Show Highlights Current Political Fears

FEATURING STEPHANIE ABRAHAM - It is not often that a fictional book written many years ago becomes a prescient story for our current times. George Orwell's 1984 is one such book. Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is another. Now, the online streaming service Hulu has produced a much-publicized televised version of The Handmaid's Tale starring Elizabeth Moss, Samira Wiley, and Alexis Bledel. In our current political climate where conservative lawmakers are prescribing nearly every aspect of women's healthcare and reproduction, and when a self-admitted sexual predator is in the White House, The Handmaid's Tale is a powerful warning against the dystopian future we could realize. Find Stephanie's writings at www.stephanieabraham.com. Stephanie Abraham is a writer and media critic, she helped found the feminist magazine make/shift and was the founding editor of the feminist magazine LOUDmouth. Her works have been published in McSweeney’s, Al Jazeera, Mizna and Bitch Magazine. She is the Pop

‘The Promise’ Brings Alive Saga of the Armenian Genocide

FEATURING STEPHANIE ABRAHAM - Just in time for the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian genocide, a new film is hitting theaters called The Promise. The film stars Oscar Isaac as an Armenian medical student, Charlotte Le Bon as an Armenian-born French woman, and Christian Bale as an American journalist. A love triangle between the three main characters is set within the tumultuous final years of Turkey's Ottoman empire and the Armenian Genocide. Because of its topic, the film has been roundly criticized by the Turkish government, which has refused to acknowledge the genocide. Responding to The Promise, Turkish investors bankrolled a film called The Ottoman Lieutenant and released it a month before The Promise hit US theaters, offering the Turkish government's perspective on the Armenian Genocide. Stephanie Abraham is a writer and media critic, she helped found the feminist magazine make/shift and was the founding editor of the feminist magazine LOUDmouth.

Super Bowl Ads and Halftime Show Focus on Diversity and Immigration

FEATURING STEPHANIE ABRAHAM - It was a telling moment in the US when the Superbowl's highly-anticipated advertisements were considered political simply for focusing on immigration, racial diversity, and women's rights. In the context of our current political climate where Donald Trump is forcing through unpopular policies that demonize non-white males, simply showcasing the diverse beauty of the nation has now become a political act. Ads by prominent companies like Budweiser as well as obscure ones like 84 Lumber expressed support for immigration. Audi's ad challenged viewers to consider women's pay inequality. And, 10 Haircare went the furthest, by celebrating different hair styles and textures while mocking Trump's bad hair. Meanwhile Lady Gaga's elaborate half-time show, which was expected to take on Trump's politics, ended up offering the least provocative message of the night. The closest that the pop superstar came to making a statement was to sing a verse of

Pablo Larraín’s Biopic ‘Jackie’ Comes Ahead of Trump Inauguration

FEATURING STEPHANIE ABRAHAM - Coming just months before the White House will house one of the most unconventional First Ladies in US history, Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín has released a new feature film called simply Jackie. In it, Oscar winning actress Natalie Portman portrays the life of Jacqueline Kennedy in the days after her husband's assassination and how she navigates the expectations of being First Lady with the horrific tragedy that has just befallen her. Critics are raving about Portman's performance but today we turn to our own pop culture correspondent and film reviewer for the social and political significance of the film. Stephanie Abraham is a writer and media critic, she helped found the feminist magazine make/shift and was the founding editor of the feminist magazine LOUDmouth. Her works have been published in McSweeney’s, Al Jazeera, Mizna and Bitch Magazine. She is the Pop Culture Correspondent and Film Critic for

Aptly Named Film ‘Loving’ Reminds Nation Of What Is Important

FEATURING STEPHANIE ABRAHAM - Just days before the general election, a new feature film by director Jeff Nichols focused on a somewhat forgotten moment in American history that seems more relevant now than ever before. 'Loving,' named for Richard and Mildred Loving, is the story of a rural Virginia couple who wanted to be allowed to marry legally. Richard, a white man, married Mildred, a black woman, but because of so-called "anti-miscegenation" laws in Virginia (and other states) their marriage was not recognized and the couple were arrested multiple times. But the civil rights movement came into full force at the same time, and a lawsuit led by the ACLU on the Loving's case went all the way to the Supreme Court which eventually struck down all "anti-miscegenation" laws as unconstitutional. The film Loving is still in theaters. Stephanie Abraham is a writer and media critic, she helped found the feminist

Disney’s ‘Queen of Katwe’ Defies Some Stereotypes, Reinforces Others

FEATURING STEPHANIE ABRAHAM - Those of us tired of watching Disney movies that focus on lily white characters, real or animated, may be excited about the major studio's latest release, Queen of Katwe starring Academy award winning Lupita N'yongo and Oscar nominee David Oyewolo. It may be Disney's first time throwing its weight behind an all-black cast set in an African country, namely Uganda. Based on the true story of chess whizz Phiona Mutesi and her chess teacher Robert Katende, Queen of Katwe in a predictably Disney form, offers a syrupy tale of how one person can defy the odds and lift themselves out of poverty through sheer talent and hard work. The film is directed by Indian filmmaker Mira Nair. Read Stephanie's work at www.StephanieAbraham.com. Stephanie Abraham is a writer and media critic, she helped found the feminist magazine make/shift and was the founding editor of the feminist magazine LOUDmouth. Her

Will Hollywood Get Cuba Right? Reviews of Two Very Different Films

FEATURING STEPHANIE ABRAHAM - The warming of relations between the United States and Cuba means that for the first time in decades, Americans are going to have the opportunity to visit the island nation. In addition to celebrities like the Kardashians visiting, filmmakers are flocking to Cuba. Two new films, both by non-Cubans, have recently been released. One is Papa Hemingway in Cuba, the first American film to be shot in Cuba since the revolution. The film is actually set during the Cuban revolution and is centered on Ernest Hemingway and one of his adoring fans. The second film, made by Irish filmmakers, is called simply Viva and focuses on the life of a young Cuban man whose desire to perform in drag throws him into confrontation with his own father. Viva was shortlisted for an Academy award. Stephanie Abraham is a writer and media critic, she helped found the

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