A Year on Saturn

...is approximately 29.7 Earth years.

"A Year on Saturn" is the website of Shannon Fay,
freelance and fiction writer.

Happy Holidays!

Posted on: December 26th, 2013 by Shannon Fay No Comments

I just wanted to say that I hope everyone had a great holiday/is having a great holiday/ got some time off to do whatever. My Christmas was fantastic, spent with family and friends. I feel ready to tackle the new year.

Speaking of the new year, now would be a good time to go to The Coast’s website and see what my top ten DVDs for 2013 were. To be honest I’m still not totally sold on my list. There were some really good movies that I saw (Fruitvale Station) that didn’t make it because they haven’t been released on DVD yet, and then there are some supposedly great movies that I just didn’t get to see at all (The Art of Killing). Even now I’m waffling a little bit on what made it and what got cut- maybe Frances Ha should be there instead of Much Ado About Nothing or The Great Gatsby? Oh well, too late now.

One thing I know for sure is that even though it might have been a lackluster year for movies, it was a great year for TV. Four out of my 10 picks were TV shows (Hannibal, 30 Rock, Orange is the New Black, Orphan Black).

This past year I’ve tried to read books from woman authors that I haven’t read before. This made me look closer at what i consume as far as pop-culture goes and how much of it is woman-created. As far as female representation in the stories themselves, my list strikes a fairly even balance: five of my picks featured female main characters, four featured male leads, and one featured a whale as the main character (this breakdown hinges on whether you think Benedict or Beatrice is the main character in Much Ado. I give it to Bea). But as far as woman creators behind the shows go, it’s a 3/7 split with only 3 women show runners/movie directors represented: Tina Fey (30 Rock), Gabriela Cowperthwaite (Blackfish), and Jenji Kohan (Orange is the New Black).

Also, the list is very white. Nearly all the lead characters in my picks are white, with the exception of the diverse cast of Fast & Furious 6 and, well, the movie featuring a whale. Even with Orange is the New Black, which features a diverse cast in nearly ever sense of the word, the show runner felt it needed a white lead in order to sell the show:

“In a lot of ways Piper was my Trojan Horse. You’re not going to go into a network and sell a show on really fascinating tales of black women, and Latina women, and old women and criminals. But if you take this white girl, this sort of fish out of water, and you follow her in, you can then expand your world and tell all of those other stories. But it’s a hard sell to just go in and try to sell those stories initially. The girl next door, the cool blonde, is a very easy access point, and it’s relatable for a lot of audiences and a lot of networks looking for a certain demographic. It’s useful.” –Jenji Kohn in an interview with NPR

I know that I am part of the problem here, that I am one the people the network has in mind when they’re considering a show like OitNB. I honestly do love all of the shows and movies on my list, but I am disappointment at how homogeneous it is racially and wish there were more female creators (not to say that guys can’t conceive of a good woman-centric story: Orphan Black has a largely female cast playing very different female characters and has a looming subtext about how patriarchy controls and suffocates women…anyway, Orphan Black is amazing). I guess one of my goals in the new year will be to continue seeking out women-created works as well as stories by and featuring people of colour.

In the meantime I have a deadline that’s less than a week away, and I just spent nearly an hour writing about TV and movies.


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