Daily Archives: December 17, 2015


IMG_7140  I wasn’t even going to go. The relentless merchandising of Star Wars: The Force Awakens had turned me off months ago. Don’t feed the hype, I said to myself. Corporate films still suck.

Then a couple of weeks ago, we went to see the final Hunger Games, and the theater was selling $5 advance tickets for the preview night of Star Wars. Okay, it’s a shitty little theater (tonight we counted the number of hand prints we could see on the filthy screen). But it still seemed like, well, the force was with us. So we bought, and tonight, we went.

The Force Awakens is relentlessly self-conscious and self-aggrandizing. It’s an oIMG_7141de to its own history, and mostly to the first Star Wars, which was the first movie I ever saw on a date, so I have to admit I have a sentimental fondness for the franchise. The audience applauded when old characters appeared on screen. It’s corny like that.

It’s also great movie-making, if you believe great movie-making is about creating a world — which few films do better than the Lucas legacy. And while the effects, the sets, the costumes, the animation, and the music (Lin-Manuel Miranda!) are all big and breathtaking, it doesn’t make you feel like it’s showing off the latest high-tech wizardry. With cute creatures/robots and lots of top-gun aviation acrobatics, it’s quaint in a way. A throwback to the breakthroughs of the OG film. Plus, it’s got a kick-ass heroine and a funny, sweet African-American black lead. Their romance is nostalgically chaste, built around hand-holding. This is family entertainment, which frankly is a relief to me after having to turn off so many TV shows because my kid enters the room. Game of Thrones, Star Wars is not. IMG_7142

The Force Awakens was fun. Entertaining. Not earth-changing. But a message there, about how morality is about the choices we make, and how the good team is the one that unites all manners of beings: human, alien, animal, android.

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No women. Not one. There is not a single female in any of the five acts to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year. The Cock Hall has a long history of exclusion, as I’ve written about before. But this year is the worst. MOR white-guy classic rockers Steve Miller, Deep Purple, Cheap Trick (okay, I confess, I voted for them), and Chicago over nominees Chic, Chaka Khan, and Janet Jackson. Not to mention all the deserving women who were once again passed over for nominations. When you break it down intersectionally, as this blogger did yesterday, the omission of women of color is even more egregious and depressing. Rock and Roll Hall of Shame.

The most disappointing aspect to this year’s winners is that the HoF tried. They recruited women and people of color, adding many new voters to the induction process. I know, because not only was I finally sent a ballot — 30 years after I became a professional music critic, need I point out — I was sent two! And I was asked by a board member to suggest other voters, at least one of whom received his first ballot after a similar amount of time as an extremely well-regarded Latino cultural journalist. (I should point out at this juncture that nominee Los Lobos were not inducted. Someone please crunch the numbers of Hispanic acts in the Hall of Shame. Only one act with predominantly people of color — famed misogynists N.W.A — made the cut this time.)

Someone with more time than I have needs to investigate this further. My sense is that having been launched by old white guys, the Hall is too big of a ship at this point to change direction. No amount of course correction can keep it from plunging off the edge into irrelevancy. It’s a true shame, because I was there the day the Hall opened, and I believe in honoring the important but complicated history of American popular music. But building a voting body around a sexist, racist industry is the wrong way to go about it.

I appreciate having been finally invited into the boys club. I’ll vote again, because enfranchisement is precious. But dammit, I’m ready to build my own club.


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