Karlie Kloss: A Coding Angel

You may have seen Karlie Kloss on CBS this past Sunday in the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. She looked great. All the girls did. I’m a huge fan of the show.

But Karlie Kloss is going beyond her modeling duties and partnering with Code.org in an effort to get other young women interested in coding, a skill that’s becoming more and more valuable.

According to this piece from Makers.org, Kloss is also becoming interested in learning how to operate and fly drones.

I personally think it’s really important for high profile women to show an interest in science and technology. There are still pay gaps in STEM fields and a lack of women in those jobs. Like any other career field it’s important to have more and more women participate.

Hopefully when young girls see Karlie Kloss, an international supermodel, interested in coding and drones, they’ll realize that being pretty and having fun and also being interested in math and science aren’t two totally separate things.

Find out more about the initiative to get girl involved in coding at Cambio.com.

Mindy Kaling also recently posted an instagram of herself learning how to code.

Once again, I think that when women in the arts like Kaling show themselves participating in more science and math based activities, girls and young women will realize they’re not limiting themselves by becoming involved in math and science.

You can download the app that Kaling used to learn to code at Get Hopscotch. It’s technically marketed towards kids, but who cares? It’s probably more fun than any adult equivalent.

Advertisements

Mariska Hargitay: Domestic violence victim advocate on screen and off

Law and Order: SVU is one of the best shows on TV. I don’t think anyone will argue with that. I mean, it’s been on the air since 1999. That’s how much people love it. The one constant on the show since then has been Detective Olivia Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay.

SVU touches on a lot of really sensitive subjects. It is about NYPD Manhattan’s Special Victims Unit, meaning that it deals with mostly sex crimes. Because of the nature of the show, many of the episodes do touch on current events having to deal with sex crimes, including when Chris Brown assaulted Rihanna and when Ray Rice knocked out his then girlfriend, now wife Janay Palmer at a casino.

I think it’s really important that there’s a show out there that comments on events like these. They talk about events as a crime, not as a celebrity story. Hargitay’s character Olivia Benson is known for being a huge advocate for the victims of sexual assault. Hargitay herself has also used her influence to help real life victims of sexual assault.

Today Hargitay’s part in the Speechless NFL campaign came out, and it’s pretty haunting. Out of anyone in the world, Hargitay talks about sexual assault cases a lot, and the fact that she herself got teared up and couldn’t talk about it says mountains about the nature of these crimes.

Hargitay uses both her Instagram and Twitter to promote efforts to help victims of sexual assault.

She is president and founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation. They’ve been able to reach a large audience with their “No More” campaign, enlisting the help of celebrities. Anything to bring more light to the subject is a positive thing.

Sexual assault is a hard subject to talk about. It always will be regardless. When strong women like Mariska Hargitay pledge their allegiance to helping women and men and children who suffer from sexual violence, it’s one more person who has added a voice to the hardship.

The holiday season is upon us, and if you so feel inclined, I would recommend donating to an organization that helps with sexual assault victims or volunteering at a women’s shelter in some way; even just donating clothes can help.

Never feel afraid to report sexual assault if you or someone you love is experiencing it. You can call the domestic violence hotline at 1.800.799.7233, if you don’t feel comfortable going to the police. The Joyful Heart Foundation also offers a ton more resources here.

“Women Aren’t Funny”

Comedians and spouses Bonnie Macfarlane and Rich Vos released a documentary in August called Women Aren’t Funny essentially in response to Christopher Hitchens’ Vanity Fair article “Why Women Aren’t Funny.” I would highly recommend reading the article before watching the documentary because you’ll be mad enough that you’ll enjoy the film that much more. Hitchens quoted a Rudyard Kipling poem as his main source of outside expertise on the topic. This is Rudyard Kipling:

342px-Rudyard_Kipling_from_John_Palmer

This is probably not the man to get the most up to date opinions from.

Just from the fact that I have a blog dedicated to highlighting positive representations of female in media, you can guess that I’m pretty passionate about the fact that women are funny and anyone who thinks that gender has anything to do with how funny someone is, is frankly an imbecile. So I was super excited this morning when my friend Bekah sent me the link to the trailer for this documentary. I thought “Oh my gosh, how did I miss this?” But, better late than never, right?

I was already stoked from the trailer because two of my personal inspirations/heroes were featured prominently- Sarah Silverman, Joan Rivers and Chelsea Peretti- as were some male comics I respect- Michael Ian Black and Chris Rock (real talk, I would probably also list Black and Rock under my list of inspirations if I ever became a stand up comedian and had a Wikipedia page). There were also some male comics I didn’t respect featured in the trailer, so I knew I was going to get a pretty full look at the topic of some people don’t consider women to be funny. Side note: if you don’t have respect for Dane Cook because you heard he steals jokes or whatever, this film surprised me by redeeming him. Watch the film to find out why. (That was me plugging something for entirely selfless reasons.)

Between watching the trailer for the film and renting it on Amazon, I thought of recent instances when people made comments about women not being funny. The most recent I could think of is someone was talking about comedy podcasts and was listing off a bunch he really liked: all podcasts done by men. I then listed off my favorites ending by saying, “…oh, and Call Chelsea Peretti.” The person I was talking to responded to that by, “I don’t know if I could really get into that one. She’s a little too off beat for a female comic.” Excuse me? Too off beat for a female comic? You just admitted to me that you enjoy listening to a myriad of men talk for an hour and a half about different weird interests and happenings on a regular basis but Chelsea Peretti does that same thing and it’s too off beat?

Well, this documentary, or “cocumentary” as it’s referred to in the film (comedy+documentary), definitely talked to a lot of people who had very similar feelings about female comedians as the unnamed gentleman above. I was amazed by how many men Bonnie and Rich found to talk to them on camera who are in comedy AND were willing to admit that they didn’t think women were funny or as funny as men. One comic whose name I forget now but if I remember I’ll come back and edit this said “Women only become comedians if they were molested.” What? Someone pays you to be funny? Then when he was asked if he was a comedian because he was molested he was very much offended.

A common phrase in the documentary was “Only ____ women are funny” with the phrases “fat” or “black” or “Jewish” or “lesbian” or, the most bizarre to me, “ugly” inserted in the blank. Do people say the same thing about male comedians? Why do people think it’s acceptable to say it about women then? After this was addressed in the film, the filmmakers awarded Wanda Sykes with the title of “Funniest Woman Alive” since she fit the most criteria mentioned above. I thought that made a pretty good point.

I don’t want to ruin the rest of the film because it is incredibly insightful and it’s probably better to hear a lot of those points from watching the film than just reading a blog post about it. Below I put the trailer for everyone to watch and decide for themselves whether or not they do want to watch this film. I spent $3.99 renting it in standard definition on Amazon but I’m sure you could find a better deal somewhere else (i.e. stream it illegally) if you’re really against giving money to people promoting a good cause.

Also here are other blog posts I wrote about funny women: (this is me plugging something for selfish reasons)

The Ladies of SNL

Another Chelsea Made a Netflix Comedy Special

Tig Notaro did a super cool standup set

Sarah Silverman being silly on a Saturday

Why Joan Rivers was so important, especially for female comedians

The Ladies of SNL

I’m a huge Saturday Night Live fan. I know people say that it’s not that funny anymore or the heyday is past, but I still think it’s a great staple of American comedy and watch it every week.

I also think the current cast of ladies on SNL is a collection of some of the funniest ladies alive. Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong are easily the next Amy and Tina. I thought I would take some time though to talk about all the ladies on SNL Season 40 and share some of my favorite sketches they’ve been in.

Vanessa Bayer

Bayer joined SNL as a featured player in 2010 and was promoted to repertory player in 2012 after Kristen Wiig left the show. My favorite Bayer sketches are as her substitute poetry teacher (see above.) Also she made me laugh a lot on Conan talking about her experience auditioning for commercials. Fun fact from that clip if you don’t decide to watch it: Bayer was an intern on Conan.

Aidy Bryant

Aidy Bryant is someone that I want to be friends with. I want to be friends with almost every funny woman in the world but Aidy Bryant is one of them in particular. Here she is talking about Drake on Late with Seth Meyers in the way that I would talk about certain other celebrities (not Drake, not my cup of tea, but others):

Bryant started on SNL back in 2012. I showed my favorite clip with Bryant to my mom and she actually laughed which means she’s hilarious to all sorts of demographics. Honorable mention best Aidy Bryant clip: her as Tonkerbell, Tinkerbell’s half sister.

Kate McKinnon

McKinnon was nominated for TWO Emmys in 2014. That’s crazy, especially since one was Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She’s also SNL’s first openly lesbian cast member which is crazy cool as well. Audiences might know McKinnon best for her impersonation of Justin Bieber. I’m a huge fan of her impressions of Jane Lynch and Ellen Degeneres. I’m pretty sure she could an amazing impression of anyone, but she portrays those blonde beauties amazingly well.

Here is her and Ellen side by side both as Ellen:

Cecily Strong

Cecily Strong is my favorite current cast member. There, I said it. It’s out there. If I ever say it’s anyone else I’m lying. She joined the show back in 2012 and I immediately was like, “This was the perfect choice, good job Lorne Michaels.” Last season after Seth Meyers left SNL she briefly hosted Weekend Update with Colin Jost. This season they switched her out with Michael Che which is totally cool with me because I think she does much better in sketches than sitting at a desk. Fun fact: Cecily Strong recently adopted the world’s most adorable shelter dog. You can see him in the SNL opening credits or on her instagram. I also just found out from Wikipedia she’s dating Mike O’Brien, a writer and former cast member of SNL. She’s know for her impersonations of Khloe Kardashian and Megyn Kelly, among others. But I think she shines brightest as The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party.

“Mackenzie! Mackenzie!” “Who are you talking to?” “Mackenzie, duh.”

Here she is on Late Night with Seth Meyers:

Leslie Jones

Leslie Jones was hired as a writer on SNL this year and later in the season was promoted to a featured player. Her promotion made it the first time in history that two African American women were cast members on the show. This is also the season with the most African American cast members in total. She’s also in Chris Rock’s new film coming out later this month Top Five. This season she’s made me laugh a lot as Leslie Jones: Relationship Expert on Weekend Update. Last week she starred as an adult Orphan Annie.

Sasheer Zamata

You may have noticed last year that SNL hadn’t had a female African American cast member since 2007. In fact when Kerry Washington hosted writers made it a point to have a sketch where she played about a dozen African American women, to make a point. Sasheer Zamata, a standup comedian, was hired in January 2014, mid season and became the first female African American cast member since Maya Rudolph. The show has only had five black female cast members since the show started, which is more than a little ridiculous considering how many funny ladies there are out there. During Chris Rock’s show a couple week’s ago she was hilarious as a vlogger with an overprotective father.

Last but not least check out all the hilarious ladies of the 40th season of SNL plus Cameron Diaz in the music video for Back Home Baller:

Another Chelsea made a Netflix comedy special

Chelsea Handler came out with a comedy special called Uganda Be Kidding Me on Netflix last month. It was good, but I’m not talking about her special right now.

I’m talking about Chelsea Peretti’s special right now, Chelsea Peretti: One of the Greats.  It’s a pretty great standup special, no pun intended (who am I kidding, pun TOTALLY intended) but she covers a variety of topics that are super important to women.

For those who don’t know who Chelsea Peretti is, she’s a comedian and actress who has been on shows like Louie and is currently a regular on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Fun fact, she went to elementary school with Andy Samberg. Another fun fact, her brother is a founder of Huffington Post and the found of Buzzfeed. Third fun fact, Peretti is hilarious and tells jokes that other comedians should be jealous of because they are that funny. (The last one wasn’t really a fact, more an opinion, but I was talking about people that weren’t the topic of the blog for too many sentences, so I tried to even it out.)

Here’s her on Conan:

Back to the new special: I don’t want to ruin the jokes so I won’t say them, and jokes are always funnier coming from the comedian themselves, but she has this part of her special where she talks about what male comedians standup would be like if guys had periods. Mostly about the fact that the menstrual cycle wouldn’t really be a taboo thing to joke about anymore.

I’ve watched it twice in the last week since it came out, the second time with my friend Bekah. Bekah turned to me at one point and goes “I like her because she’s really self aware.” Which is such a good point. Peretti is incredibly self aware not only of how others view her but the world around her.

Also she makes fun of guys and girls pretty equally in the special, so yay gender equality.

I don’t watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine because I watch like three dozen other shows, but I’m sure it’s hilarious. I do listen to Peretti’s podcast called Call Chelsea Peretti. It’s hilarious. She’s also hilarious on other people’s podcasts, like Pete Holmes’ podcast You Made it Weird. You can find both of their podcasts on the Podcasts app on your iPhone. I don’t know what you do if you have a phone that’s not an iPhone but I’m sure there’s a similar app. Or you can ask your friend with an iPhone. They probably need a break from theirs for a little bit anyways and I’m sure they’ll appreciate you downloading a ton of stuff on their phone and taking up a ton of memory.

ANYWAYS, Chelsea Peretti’s special Chelsea Peretti: One of the Greats is available on Netflix and you should check it out if you like to laugh.

Taylor Swift is calling the media OUT in her new video

In case this blog post is the only part of the internet you’ve look at for the last couple days (and if that’s the case I’m flattered and frankly a little confused) then you know Taylor Swift’s music video for her song “Blank Space” came out yesterday.

You should watch it before you keep reading.

It’s great, right?! Like great enough that I think Taylor Swift could single handedly resurrect MTV as a music video channel with this video.

That’s a little hyperbolic, but it’s a pretty darn good video. She looks great, the set is amazing, her clothes are to die for, the guys in it are stupid good looking, and Taylor Swift is a total boss.

But none of that is as important as the fact that Taylor Swift is 100% calling out the media’s portrayal of her as “boy obsessed” with this song and music video.

She’s basically saying, “Ohhhh you think I’m crazy? Okay I’ll be crazy.” In the video Taylor destroys a phone, a car, slashes a painting, cries in front of a confused deer. All arguably “crazy” actions. But that’s what Taylor is right? I mean that’s how E! News* says she is, so she must be.

Reality check time: Taylor Swift dates as much as my average friend (not found through a mathematical formula, just through listening to my friends talk about the opposite sex for hours on end). She just happens to be in the public eye and there’s only so much you can do to hide that. And would you rather her stay with Harry Styles for years when she’s not really happy in the relationship to appease the media than break it off after a few months? That’s not fair to Taylor OR Harry.

If I was in Taylor’s position I would date every man on this list. Because why shouldn’t she have? She’s young. She’s allowed to try things out. Including dating around. She’s under no pressure to find the right guy the first, second, or even sixth time around. She can date a different guy every year until she’s 90.

Also the media that’s criticizing Taylor Swift’s dating life (and I’ll say now that there’s an incredibly small portion of the media that’s actually concerned with Taylor’s life, but for some reason their headlines scream pretty loud) is encouraging what could be unhealthy relationship and dating habits in young women and girls. It’s okay to have six or more boyfriends by the time you’re 24. Make your own rules. If you do want to have one boyfriend from age 14 that you date for ten years then marry, that’s cool too. Do whatever you’re comfortable with and makes sense for your life and lifestyle.

Taylor Swift looking adorable in polka dots.
Taylor Swift looking adorable in polka dots.

ANYWAYS, I really liked the Blank Space video. People in entertainment news probably aren’t ever going to stop criticizing Taylor Swift for living her life, but at least she’s making it known that it’s not super cool with her. And she’s profiting off her artistic statement. So, you go girl.


Here’s another blog post I wrote about Taylor Swift. She’s a cool chick. If you don’t think so, that’s okay. Because everyone is entitled to their own opinion.


*I wrote this while watching E! News. I’m a fan in general and will continue to watch their programming always, but they are a little critical of Taylor Swift’s love life, let’s be real. 

Tig Notaro did a super cool standup set (again) (she’s just really awesome) (and funny)

Tig Notaro did an amazing standup set in 2012 just days after she was diagnosed with cancer. It wasn’t just amazing because it was hilarious (it was) but it was also an incredibly personal look into someone’s struggle with illness and life in general (Notaro’s mother had also recently died before the standup set).

Last night, Notaro amazed her audience and fans again. According to a New Yorker article, the standup comedian performed the second half of her show topless. As Notaro was taking off her jacket, apparently someone in the audience catcalled her, and she said that she was “one catcall away from going topless.” When she had another whoop, she took off her button down, showing off her double masectomy scars.

Notaro received a standing ovation after her set and plenty of positive feedback on Twitter (obviously).

Tig Notaro performing standup at the Del Monte Speakeasy in Venice, CA in 2013.
Tig Notaro performing standup at the Del Monte Speakeasy in Venice, CA in 2013.

I first discovered Notaro’s standup after reading an interview with her in Time magazine last year. I’m a standup junkie and had seen her name before, but never listened to her specials or anything. After reading the article I thought “Hey, this is a pretty cool lady, I should listen to her be funny” and listened to both her specials that were on Spotify at the time, “GOOD ONE” and “LIVE.”

LIVE is an amazing, amazing special and I don’t want to go into too much detail about it besides Notaro is the human embodiement of Winston Churchhill’s quote, “If you’re going through hell, just keep going” and she sees the humor in literally the worst times of her life. She had a deadly virus that ate her intestines and she made it funny. Not in a “haha, poop” way but in a “life is horrible and sometimes all you can do is laugh” way. Everyone should listen to this album. Even if you don’t like standup.

Her current tour is called “Boyish Girl Interrupted” and you can find her remaining tour dates here if you want to check her out in person. Or just google her. You’ll find tons of awesome clips. Including this one from Conan.

ALSO, she’s in a really cool movie In A World  that’s on Netflix Watch Instantly. It’s a really funny and smart movie with a cool premise. Just go watch it. You have time I’m sure. Take a break from whatever show you’re binge watching (probably Gilmore Girls) and watch In A World and some of Tig Notaro’s standup.