Time, Honored: A Wrinkle Gets a Lift

Happy Wrinkle In Time Day!  Fifty-six years after the publication of Ursula Le Guin’s novel of a young heroine traveling through time, the motion picture version is shepherded onto the screen by shaman of black girl magic Ava DuVernay. After weeks swooning over Black Panther, now is not the time to forget how much representation matters.  A Wrinkle In Time is more than just a breakthrough in casting: it challenges the notion of who gets to be a hero and how.

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DuVernay’s adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time will star Storm Reid as Meg, a girl who travels in time to save her scientist father (Chris Pine) with help from three celestial beings played by Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kialing and Oprah (who may in fact have just been playing herself).  Like other films of late–Get Out, Hidden Figures and most notably Black Panther–the casting of A Wrinkle in Time brings a fresh face to the tired trope of the rugged Rambo-like hero.

Black women are the fastest growing group of female entrepreneurs.  They are the most educated group in America. They are also mothers to the next generation of black women who will shatter the ceilings still stifling the black excellence we are enjoying today. After the muck of video vixens and tragic mulattos their mothers waded through, our young girls deserve smart capable characters that reflect their courage, intelligence and agency.  A Wrinkle In Time gives girls a expansive vision of potential, encouraging them to dream big and risk bigger without fear.

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A Wrinkle In Time also challenges another convention of the hero tale: violence.  No matter how courageous and conscious our heroes are they always need to open a can of whoop-ass to get their job done.  Every superhero uses his power in violent combat.  While they often throw in a few pithy lines along the way, it is brute force that ultimatly solves every problem.  No wonder we have a hard time not believing that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun. Buried deep in the list of solutions to our gun problem is the need to address our cultural beliefs around violence.  Our hero Meg is unlikely to do Bruce-Lee-level roundhouse kicks to save her dad.  Instead, like people in the real world, her courage will take a different shape. The toolbox that she models for young girls has something other than an arm bar in it–solutions like knowledge, scientific thinking and compassion for others that girls (and the rest of us; looking at you,Trump) could use.  We need more diplomacy, characters that aren’t afraid to do something other than destroy the world, and we need heroes who show us exciting solutions that are not based on killing other people.

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Beyond the pettiness of our broken politics, human knowledge is advancing at a rapid pace.  The ideas in A Wrinkle in Time about multiverses, fractured time, and infinite possibilities are not just science fiction like they mostly were in Le Guin’s own time.  Quantum physics, gravitational waves and tesseracts are shifting from fantasy to provable theory–one step closer to becoming everyday reality. Our country is locked in a battle over simplistic binary ideas–left or right, black or white, Trump or the rest of us.  Only by drawing on all the knowledge humanity has to offer and expanding our thinking into the multiverse of opportunities that exist can we free ourselves from the small minded structures of power created by small minded men to control the masses.  A Wrinkle in Time encourages audiences to expand their minds, and evolve.

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A Wrinkle in Time is a vision of a world beyond the flawed one we have built. This is what science fiction can do best–help us visualize our way beyond the boundaries of our knowledge, support the thinkers and creators in building a map to this new world. Meg is a girl of this moment, brave and empowered, afraid sometimes but unstoppable always. This movie is for the girls who are like Meg. May they see their own power writ large on the screen. This is for the world that needs to see those quiet girls, the ones off thinking, silently saving the world. May we see them, may we be them.

 

 

The Real Beauty Aisle

This week drugstore chain (and recipient of a fair share of my money) CVS announced that is will no longer allow photoshopped images on the beauty products it sells.  Any brand looking for shelf space will have to use images that are not retouched both on their products, and in-store marketing.  CVS’s own house brand will also meet the same standard.

Picture your local CVS (Rite-aid, Walgreens, whatever money-sucking hygiene and health store you use) Aisle after aisle of products that are supposed to keep you healthy stock the shelves.  While you decide what soap or shampoo is best, a woman gazes out at you, shiny and sunkissed with nary a wrinkle or blemish.  She is more simulation that sister. The hope is this replicant-alien will communicate to me that if I used this product I’ll look like her.  I don’t have to hang around the aisle all day to know I’ll never look like her.  She doesn’t even look like her.  Shame and shampoo drop into my basket together.  By the time I get to the counter, a hundred dollars worth of face cream and mascara and nail polish seem insufficient weaponry in the fight to look like the replicants poking their perfect faces out of every beauty ad. Trading dollars for disappointment isn’t a good value proposition for any business.

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Magazines, long the primary purveyor of the beauty ideal, are making some occasional concessions to women wanting more realistic images of women on their pages.  But magazines make up only one aisle at CVS.  This latest move by the chain will create 9,600 stores where women will look like women.  Time will tell if this will result in a better shopping experience that translates to real dollars, but if the fashion industry in any indication, inclusivity pays. Size and age inclusivity is helping fashion brands like Eloqui and Universal Standard reach underserved markets.  The wild profitability that results from inclusive sizing and marketing is making even traditional retailers take notice.  Can the same happen for hygiene products?

With CVS’s move, the same ads will still be full of women.  I’m pretty sure they’ll still look amazing and beautiful, but now their faces will occupy the same physical reality that mine does.  The material consequences of time and air and life might show on their faces.  My trip to maintain my own face will be a little less fraught with angst. And together we’ll all just be women.

The City a Safe Space

Boston has a reputation: cold, unfriendly, racist and hard–not all undeserved.  But in case everything you know about Boston you learned from a Matt Damon movie, rest assured that there is something else here.

As home to over 70 Colleges and Universities, including some of the world’s best, Boston is a place that has a close relationship with reason–eve if it doesn’t alway win.  We love freedom and liberty–we created it here, no matter what Philly says.  We love a good protest and most importantly–we don’t like to take shit from anyone, especially someone that hasn’t read a book lately, Cheeto boy.  This doesn’t look like a Whitey Bulger movie.  It looks like this:

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is doing the most to be an ideal sanctuary city.  He makes a safe space for all kinds of people attacked, targeted and affected by the Trump administration’s solution to Make America a Police State Again. He not just paying lip service either. He’s going to tuck you in, dude. So when Marty says he’s got you, he does.

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This city may still bear challenges–we’re a rough bunch, just ask Roger Goodell. Still no matter what Ben Affleck tells you, you should know that this is my Boston.

Sweet Protection

If you think Beyonce was slaying as Oshun in her lemonade video, check out the real deal–Oshun is a hip hop duo out of New York who fully fux with the Yoruba deities.  They take not just the look, but the spirit and intention of West African spirituality and infuse throughout their work.  Check out their latest video “Protect Yourself” when the gods don’t aim to smash windows but instead take a hit at all that ails the community.

 

REI-thinking What Matters

In a bold business move, camping superstore REI has announced that it will not open on Black Friday.  Wait, not open?  That’s the mythical Dia de La Dough, when shoppers abandon their families still sleepy with turkey, and roam rabid through the malls.  If the packs of shoppers are large, then all winter, the nests of the elite are feathered with fat stacks of cash.  If the shoppers stay in their dens, then the winter is long and cold indeed.

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So imagine the upset when a bunch of earthy crunchy types decide to close on this most important of seasonal hold-days.  While the trend for some time was more and more stores opening earlier and earlier–some on Thanksgiving itself–it seems the season is changing. The most rabid of shoppers may want to get to the hunt, but for most of us, having a chance to cozy up in the den is worth any killer deal.

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I can remember when things really did close over the holidays.  Gone were all the distractions of daily living and the streets were hushed. Days seemed long and wild. With all of the usual hustle and bustle on hold, my Mom and Dad had the time to tell stories at the dinner table, to play with us kids, to snore like crazy in from of the football game, to create culinary delights that required more time than weekdays held.

The magic of the season wasn’t in jingling store bells, but in heat crated out of love alone that time at home allowed us to create.

Thanks, REI, for bucking the tired trend and giving each of us a chance for the greatest gift of all.

Chicken Over Beef

The world is a very tense place:  no peace in the Middle East, violence in the streets, violence on the campaign trail and just a whole lot of beef.  If you’re like me, you’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately.  What can you do in the face of such sadness?  You could look at this.  GIF artist, you’re doing it right.

Yasssssss, dance chicken dance!!!!

The Lavender Aisle

This week mega-retailer Target announced that it will be doing away with gender signage in the children toy,entertainment, and home goods department.  The move comes after parents complained about the pink aisle, a pink fluffy princess zone full of all things sugar and spice and everything nice.  How do you grow up to love math, or science, or reading, or adventure if the only toys and goodies you see are focused on looking pretty and dressing up?  You can’t.

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I grew up with three brothers and I never wanted to be left behind because I was a girl.  Seeing my older brothers as role models meant I saw worlds of possibility blocked from the view of the pink isle.  Now all girls, with brothers or not will see a world of play more like the real world that they will grow into.  Boys likewise will be freed from early training in hyper masculinity and have new opportunities for play and imagination–like this sweet easy bake oven.

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Let’s hope target is just the first of many stores that open up the traditionally binding boundaries of gender in boys and girls play and products.  Here’s to more lavender!