Bullock and McCarthy bring it in ‘The Heat’

UnknownThere have been quite a few strong female cops on television in the last three decades. Cagney and Lacey, Olivia Benson, Jane Tennison, Kate Beckett, Jane Rizzoli. On film? Not so much. Yeah, you’ve got a few FBI agents, like Clarice Starling. And Gracie Hart. But cops? Well… And female buddy cop movies? Nope.

That’s why “The Heat,” starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, which opened last weekend, is such a nice change. More, please!

Of course, being a pioneer in the genre puts tons of pressure on film-makers Paul Feig (who directs) and Katie Dippold (who wrote the screenplay). Fail, and they represent all women cops on film ever, and everyone goes back to thinking they won’t sell.

Luckily, “The Heat” is hilarious, and it’s not necessarily because of the plot, which is pretty basic police procedural. The two stars, particularly McCarthy, are what makes this watchable. (As are lots of smaller cameos from actors from SNL and “In Living Color.” Jane Curtin is hilarious as the pissy mom.)

Bullock plays very talented and by-the-book special agent Sarah Ashburn. She is great at solving cases, but sucks at working with others. One of her specialties is humiliating incompetent drug-sniffing dogs. When she sees a chance at promotion, her boss tells her her only chance is to find a particularly brutal drug lord working in Boston.

Off she goes, and soon runs into McCarthy’s Shannon Mullins, a very talented but very much renegade detective. Like Ashburn, Mullins is far from popular. She’s even pissed off her dysfunctional family by putting her brother Jason (Michael Rapaport) in jail for dealing drugs. She’s not wrong – it was a last-ditch effort to get Jason out of a life of crime, and unlike the rest of the family, he appreciates her for it.

When McCarthy and Mullins meet, it’s like the requisite oil and water. Each hates the other. But the grudging respect soon grows, and they turn out to be the perfect match at the end, etc., etc.

Both actresses throw themselves into the parts, and have great rapport, and great comic timing, which leads to some huge laughs.

For Bullock, it’s not such a stretch, since she’s done the whole uptight brainiac who softens before. “Two Weeks Notice” and “The Proposal” come to mind.

McCarthy, however – Mullins is very similar to Megan, the butch sister-in-law in “Bridesmaids.” She is even frumpier, though, and packs weaponry and lots more f-bombs. But the sheer joy with which McCarthy tackles the role (and every perp she can think of) makes it impossible to stop watching her, or stop her from stealing every scene.

That said, it would have been interesting if Bullock had played Mullins and McCarthy had played Ashburn. For Bullock it might have been too close to Gracie Hart in “Miss Congeniality,” but it would have been great for McCarthy.

Many moons ago, McCarthy played Sookie St. James in “Gilmore Girls.” Sookie was another strong, well-developed female character. She was also gorgeous, and her weight was never an issue (like it became a central issue in “Mike and Molly,” at least in the first seasons) , or an excuse for frumpiness or pity. Melissa McCarthy is a beautiful woman. Why is she only funny nowadays if she hides that?

What’s wrong with being gorgeous AND fat?

But anyway, “The Heat” is a lot of fun, and here’s hoping it will become a franchise, that will spawn other female buddy cop franchises. More, please!

Bringing Down DOMA, Putting Prop 8 in its Rightful Place

gay-marriage-300x184As the token gay lady at Sexy Feminist, I am especially ecstatic to share my thoughts on the Supreme Court’s rulings today.

To fully illustrate my glee on today’s decisions, I direct you to this little meme from Buzzfeed.

Seriously, my first thought is: finally. (As well as a huge sigh of relief.)

Not only was the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) deemed unconstitutional, but the court also dismissed California’s Proposition 8 case. The latter truly surprised me. My initial prediction was that the justices would strike down DOMA, but leave the notorious proposition alone. While long-term effects of the Prop 8 decision are a bit vague, it is clear to me that the court declared that the petitioners do not legal standing. In essence, the Supreme Court has validated the lower courts that have rejected Prop 8.

Now, I’m hopeful that with both positive outcomes, our country’s justice system will pave the way for future progress. That is to say it will be much harder (if not impossible) to defend discriminatory laws still on the books in individual states.

And for the states that have already legalized same-sex marriages, the defeat of DOMA carries an extra significance: your marriage is now federally recognized. (I think this calls for a second wedding and/or honeymoon, right?)

And speaking of the Feds, the President did not disappoint me. Obama released a statement on the landmark decision. The money quote: “The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”

To paraphrase my latest Facebook status, I knew I would live to see this moment, I just didn’t know it would come so soon. The snowball that began rolling at the beginning of my formative years is now a bona fide avalanche. In the decade plus since I’ve come out, I’ve witnessed the airings of “Queer as Folk” and “The L Word,” Massachusetts legalizing same-sex marriage, Ellen DeGeneres becoming a household name, the defeat of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; my home state of New Jersey legalizing civil unions, my residence of New York legalizing same-sex marriage, and today, the highest court in the land validating it all.

Now, as MC Hammer once rapped, we’re too legit to quit—in every sense of the phrase.

The Best Feminist Porn and Erotica

booksIn this guest post, Los Angeles-based sex therapist Moushumi Ghose, co-host of The Sex Talk web series, recommends some great female-centric porn and erotic options. For more feminist-friendly sex advice, join us at The Pleasure Chest in LA July 10, where we’ll be leading a panel discussion and Q&A with Ghose.

Not all porn is created equal. Feminist porn and erotica is a genre that caters to the feminine senses of lust sensuality, eroticism and sex, drawing from the emotion centers of pleasure but are for men and women alike. On a deeper level porn may be considered feminist because the actors are treated fairly, with respect and with equality in terms of wages, gender roles, consent, beauty, pleasure, and more. I have devised a list of my favorite feminist porn movies (and the sites where they can be accessed) as well as some of my favorite erotica from the last year. Please note that there is so much well-made erotica and porn out there made by women that this list is by no means all inclusive, nor is it in any particular order.

 

  1. Lust Cinema presents Cabaret Desire: A Swedish director who relocated to Barcelona, Erika Lust has created her most personal and sensual film to date. Erika Lust and Lust Cinema are committed to incorporating women’s voices into adult entertainment, and this movie is a sensual delicacy.
  2. Lesbian Curves by Courtney TroubleFor women by women, this sexy film explores the far reaches of girl-on-girl sensuality and sexuality.
  3. I.M. in Love, available on BrightDesire.comI am a sucker for sexy nerd stories, so this nears the top of my list.
  4. Best Women’s Erotica 2013 by Violet Blue: This compilation of erotica, selected and edited by Violet Blue, is playful, smart, and of course sexy—told from female perspectives, these stories highlight female pleasure in every story.
  5. Dr. Carol Queen: GushThis is more like a tutorial than it is a story, but nonetheless it is highly informative and features an all-star cast of sexy feminist XXX actors.
  6. Petra Joy and Candida Royale’s Female FantasiesCandida Royale is the pioneer when it comes to feminist porn. She continues to support and produce excellent feminist porn and in this film has teamed up with director Petra Joy for a tasteful, sometimes humorous, and intimate film.
  7. Simone Sinna’s Were Devil’s CurseDid you like the Sookie Stackhouse series (which the HBO series True Blood was based on)? Well, if so, you’ll dig Simone Sinna’s erotic stories about sexy were-devils, ghost vampires, glamour, glitz, and hot sex.
  8. Incredible Girl: I saw this sexy short film at a film festival in Los Angeles. The entire story is set to music and takes place at a sexually charged club. The movie focuses on two extreme individuals, an innocent-seeming, shy girl and the club diva who tries to seduce her.
  9. Expert Guide to Female Ejaculation by Tristan Taormino: This is another sex instructional, this one brought to you by Tristan Taormino, feminist sex educator and adult film director.
  10. Wicked Pictures Presents How to Be a Better LoverThis is not directed by a woman, but Wicked Pictures actors say that Wicked has always had a feminist outlook when it comes to film production. This sex-educational video talks about being a better lover and is narrated by a man, but still will appeal to many feminists, men and women alike.

Why We Need More Naked Women

It says a lot about the state of our relationship to our bodies that I cried from watching this simple video (embedded below) about a simple photo project: Jade Beall is putting together a book of real, untouched black and white photographs of real women’s bodies. Looking at these gorgeous images, with all their supposed “flaws,” you realize how seldom we see other non-model women’s bodies. You also realize how critical it is that we do so.

We’re so used to thinking that women’s bodies are for straight men’s enjoyment that we forget there could be real advantages to presenting images of the naked form outside of Victoria’s Secret ads and Playboy pictorials. This is where women’s bodies, and even sexuality, truly becomes empowerment. I recently did a boudoir photo shoot with my sister, Julie, who runs Chicago Doll Photography, and it is empowering, as a real woman, to treat yourself like a model in the good ways.

You don’t have to objectify yourself to feel the effect; there’s simply a power in treating yourself as worthy of being photographed this way, as if you are as “beautiful” as those VS models. It starts sounding cheesy pretty fast here, of course: You are beautiful! You do deserve it! That’s only because the ad industry has taken these images and these ideas from us and used them to sell products to us that supposedly make us more beautiful since advertising began.