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‘Plain Janes’ need not apply: Women in movie screenplays are invariably described as ‘attractive’
11:42 am



Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) in ‘The World Is Not Enough’

By now, a great many movie fans are familiar with the Bechdel Test, a thought exercise developed by cartoonist Alison Bechdel and her friend Liz Wallace that appeared in Bechdel’s comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For in 1985. In its common form, a movie passes the Bechdel Test if two named characters converse about any topic other than a man. Depressingly, as we’ve all learned, many movies have a hard time meeting even that low bar.

Another common area of irritation for women in films is casting. It’s far harder for an older woman to succeed as an actor than it is for a man, because casting personnel will tend strongly to populate every female role with younger women. One of the reasons Hollywood casts younger women is that younger women are perceived as more attractive, which gets us to the topic of this post.

A producer named Ross Putman has started an amusing Twitter account designed to point some obvious inequities in the ways characters in movies are apportioned.

Putnam’s Twitter account the parts of certain screenplays in which a major female character is introduced, pointing up how lazily, reflexively, automatically such characters are described as attractive, smoking hot, pretty, etc., whether it makes sense in the role or not. Here’s Putnam’s description of the project:

These are intros for female leads in actual scripts I read. Names changed to JANE, otherwise verbatim. Update as I go. Apologies if I quote your work.


After reading several of these tweets, one begins to wonder what’s motivating the (presumably) men who write this stuff.

James Bond movies are famous for being populated with sexy women for Bond to fuck, but in 1999’s The World Is Not Enough, one of four indistinguishable James Bond movies featuring Pierce Brosnan, they went over the line, creating a character called Dr. Christmas Jones, who is a nuclear physicist played by Denise Richards.

For the record, here’s how Christmas Jones is described in the screenplay

Moving fast, off comes the helmet to reveal a BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN GIRL. CHRISTMAS JONES is mid-twenties, shortish hair, hot right now.  In one movement she unzips and steps out of the suit, revealing a khaki sports bra, cut-off shorts, heavy duty boots.  A nasty-looking hunting knife strapped around her hips.  She has a deep tan and an incredible figure.

This character stretched credulity to the point that Canada’s National Post called her character one of the “ten worst moments in the history of James Bond on film.”

Anyway, here is a sample of some of Putnam’s JANE tweets:


More tweets about JANE and how attractive she is after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘We Are All Prostitutes’: Lost Pop Group vid discovered days before the song’s reissue. Coincidence?
11:21 am



When it was released in 1980, Bristol funk terrorists the Pop Group’s second studio album For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? was pretty widely panned. Though the band’s disorientingly noisy No-Wave/punk/funk musical attack had become significantly tighter than on their debut LP Y, singer Mark Stewart cut the brake cables on his lyrical politicking, adopting an uncompromisingly agit-prop “no one is innocent” ethos that was really, REALLY easy to hear as self-righteous finger-pointing. And I get it—one could get ballpark-similar musical kicks from the Contortions or the Birthday Party without feeling like one was being scolded for merely having been born in the First World.

That album has been extremely difficult to obtain legitimately since its first issue in 1980, (further editions do exist, but they’re few, and were released only in Japan) but despite its scarcity, it’s gone on to become the band’s definitive work, along with its contemporary single, “We Are All Prostitutes.” That single had everything that was essential to a Pop Group song—Stewart’s accusations chanted in a terrifying warble, rubber-band bass that sounded like a blind-drunk Larry Graham, guitars so sharp they could cut your throat, and drumming that threatened to shove the rest of the band down a flight of stairs.

On February 19th, both Mass Murder and the “Prostitutes” single will finally be re-released, after 36 years. The LP is a straightforward re-issue with no bonus goodies save for the addition of “Prostitutes,” and the single contains a non-album track. (The band’s best unreleased material was already compiled on 2014’s Cabinet of Curiosities.) The album’s reputation has significantly grown, in part because the band’s influence has reverberated through the decades despite the difficulties encountered in actually procuring its work, and in part because oh my fucking god we’re seriously still struggling against everything Stewart was yelling about 35 years ago. An edifying exchange between Stewart and Simon Reynolds appears in the latter’s indispensable book Totally Wired:

Reynolds: After Y came “We Are All Prostitutes” and For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder… The lyrics went from being abstract-expressionist to propagandist. Pretty direct protest.

Stewart: The first album was written when I was sixteen or seventeen. But on Y there’s “Don’t Call Me Pain,” about torture, and “The Boys From Brazil,” about Nazis hiding out in South America. So yes, the first one is more mystical, but there’s songs about issues. “Don’t Sell Your Dreams” is one of my favorites of that period—it is poetic but it’s incredibly idealistic and it’s really out there, as pure as you can get.

Reynolds: Still, there was a period around that time…where it seemed like the Pop Group had decided that there was no room any more for music as sheer entertainment or art for art’s sake. That the political imperatives of the time were to urgent to allow for such decadence. In one interview [Pop Group guitarist] Gareth Sager even says it’s trivial to use interview time to talk about the music when they could be talking about serious political issues.

Stewart: It wasn’t really conscious, but there was a fire in our belly. The idea was that if there was a space to use in any kind of media, you had to use it to get out what you really wanted to talk about. It was connected to hanging out with all these radical groups, like People United in Southall, and Race Today. That was a really good magazine run by Linton Kwesi Johnson and Darcus Howe, based out of Brixton, and it was going on about the “Sus” laws—stop and search—which I sang about in “Justice” and “Forces of Oppression” on How Much Longer. Loads of black people were dying in custody. Demonstrations were getting broken up. Race Today was the only thing putting out that information at that time. For us, it was all part of the same thing—the fire, the music and the desire to get these things across. Nobody was talking about it really. It wasn’t party political; there was just this fire about different injustices. It wasn’t this worthy thing, you know. It wasn’t really preaching. The things that excite me—be it a musical form or a lyrical form—often the singing is buried inside the music. So it’s not like giving a fucking speech.

The use of torture is clearly far from a settled matter if you’ve suffered even one GOP presidential debate, and who could fail to see screamingly obvious parallels to the Black Lives Matter movement in that last response? Oh, how far Western Civilization hasn’t come. Stewart may have protested that singing a song is “not like giving a fucking speech,” but when his lyrics are clear, as in the pensively dubby j’accuse “There Are No Spectators,” and the completely fucking groovy indictment of authoritarian corruption “Justice,” um, yeah, it kind of IS like giving a speech.
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Intimate photographs of post-war Paris
10:07 am



A young Parisian couple dancing to Bebop in the Bebop Cellar at Vieus Colombier
A young Parisian couple dancing to Bebop in the Bebop Cellar at Vieux Colombier, 1951

“I had fun throughout my lifetime, building my own small theater”
—French photographer Robert Doisneau

When he passed away at the age of 81 in 1994, photographer Robert Doisneau had amassed a collection of 450,000 negatives that captured Parisian and French history throughout his 50-some odd years as a photographer.

Tarot card reader and occultist, Madame Arthur, Paris, 1951
Tarot card reader and “occultist”, Madame Arthur, Paris, 1951
A female worker at the Ouvrière de Renault, Boulogne Billancourt (the Renault car factory)
A female worker at the “Ouvrière de Renault”, Boulogne Billancourt (the Renault car factory)
At the age of nineteen, Doisneau took a job as an assistant to modernist photographer André Vigneau (who spent much of the early 1930s taking photos of fashion models, surely a dream job for a young, aspiring photographer). In 1934 Doisneau accepted a position as a photographer at the Renault car factory. Due to his habitual lateness to his day job, Doisneau was fired—an event that launched his career as a freelance photographer that would last for nearly his entire life.
One of Robert Doisneau many photographs of the gargoyle statues of Notre-Dame
One of Robert Doisneau’s many photographs of the gargoyle statues of Notre-Dame
Le Pendule (The Pendulum), 1945
“Le Pendule” (The Pendulum), 1945
Les potins d'Elsa Maxwell (Parisian gossip queen, Elsa Maxwell) 1952
“Les potins d’Elsa Maxwell” (American gossip queen, Elsa Maxwell, pictured in the center), 1952
A young Parisian couple dancing at Au Saint Yves, Paris, 1948
A young Parisian couple dancing at “Au Saint Yves”, Paris, 1948
While Doisneau’s name may not be familiar to you, his photograph “Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Town Hall)” is one of the most popular—and romantic—photographic images of the entire 20th century. His famous photos of the gargoyle statues that adorn Notre-Dame (one of which is pictured above) should look familiar, too. Doisneau’s post-war images, taken during the 40s and 50s captured candid moments shared by the collective residents of Paris. From members of high-society at parties, to its vagabond “tramps,” street performers, elegant circus clowns, to passionate Parisian youth dancing to “Bebop” in the clubs of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter.

To say that Doisneau’s photographs are stunning, would be to vastly understate the fact that his images easily rank as one of the greatest contributions to the curation of 20th century French history. Doisneau’s work has been the subject of several books such as, Robert Doisneau, by Jean Claude Gautrand and, Robert Doisneau: A Photographer’s Life, by Peter Hamilton. I’m sure you will enjoy perusing the remarkable images that follow.
Les Megots (
“Les Megots” (“Butts). A “tramp” harvesting tobacco from used cigarettes in an alleyway in Paris, 1956
Coco Chanel,
Coco Chanel “Aux Miroirs” (The Mirrors), Paris, 1953
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Nappy Happy’: Radical thinker Angela Davis interviews Ice Cube, 1991
09:12 am



Before the release of Ice Cube’s Death Certificate, renowned black radical Angela Y. Davis interviewed him for Transition Magazine. It’s probably the first and last time a magazine has used a Gramsci quotation to introduce its readers to Ice Cube.

Davis, a former student of Herbert Marcuse, had been targeted by Governor Ronald Reagan in 1969 and 1970, when she was an assistant professor in UCLA’s Philosophy Department. At the governor’s urging, she was fired (twice), and Reagan vowed that she would never teach at the University of California again. Because who was better qualified to evaluate the work of philosophy professors than like Ronald Reagan? (Today, Davis is Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies Departments at UC Santa Cruz, and “Reagan” is a pair of syllables that stands for mental decay.) In ‘80, a decade after she was arrested because of her association with the Soledad Brothers, and again in ‘84, she was the vice-presidential candidate on the Communist Party USA ticket.

Ice Cube was coming from a different place. You couldn’t call his analysis Marxist, and “feminist” would have been a real stretch: he was reading The Final Call, not People’s World. This was during the period of Cube’s loudest advocacy for the Nation of Islam—before Friday, long before Are We There Yet?—when he was advocating black self-reliance (“We’ve got to start policing and patrolling our own neighborhoods,” he told Davis), endorsing an anti semitic NOI book called The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, and arguing that the Hon. Elijah Muhammad was more important than Malcolm X. He and Davis had plenty to talk about.

Angela Davis and Ice Cube in Transition #58
Hip-hop historian Jeff Chang, who thinks this meeting likely took place in July of ‘91, writes in Can’t Stop Won’t Stop that publicist Leyla Turkkan set up the interview, hoping it would position Ice Cube as “an inheritor of the Black radical tradition.” Chang continues:

The interview was a provocative idea—one that both Davis and Cube welcomed. But none of them had any idea how the conversation would turn when they got together in Cube’s Street Knowledge business offices.

To begin with, Davis only heard a few tracks from the still unfinished album [Death Certificate], including “My Summer Vacation,” “Us” and a track called “Lord Have Mercy,” which never made it to the album. She did not hear the song that would become most controversial—a rap entitled “Black Korea.” In another way, she was at a more fundamental disadvantage in the conversation.

Like Davis, Cube’s mother had grown up in the South. After moving to Watts, she had come of age as a participant in the 1965 riots. While Cube and his mother were close, they often argued about politics and his lyrics. Now it was like Cube was sitting down to talk with his mother. Davis was at a loss the way any parent is with her child at the moment he’s in the fullest agitation of his becoming.

Cube sat back behind his glass desk in a black leather chair, the walls covered with framed gold records and posters for Boyz N The Hood and his albums. Copies of URB, The Source and The Final Call were laid out in front of him. Davis asked Cube how he felt about the older generation.

“When I look at older people, I don’t think they feel that they can learn from the younger generation. I try and tell my mother things that she just doesn’t want to hear sometimes,” he answered.

There’s more, after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Louder than a bomb: Public Enemy’s intense extended live set on Dutch TV from 1988
08:50 am



Public Enemy - Chuck D, DJ Terminator X and Flavor Flav
Public Enemy - Chuck D, DJ Terminator X and Flavor Flav
1988 was a huge year for Public Enemy. That year they released their second record, one of the most important records in history (hip-hop or not), It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and toured all around the world in support of the album, to insanely enthusiastic, packed house crowds.

I saw PE on that tour, and it was like nothing else that I’d ever seen before. Everything about that show was in fact, harder than the hardcore. Love them or hate them, everybody knew who Public Enemy was in 1988. Even in the Netherlands.
Public Enemy, 1988
During the tour, PE found themselves in Holland and made an appearance on a Dutch music television show called Fa. Onrust. During the show, Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, and DJ Terminator X rip through “Night of the Living Baseheads,” “Rebel Without a Pause,” “Bring the Noise,” and “Don’t Believe the Hype.” If that’s not enough for you, Run DMC just happened to be in Holland themselves at exactly the same time, and Joseph Simmons/DJ Run and Darryl “D.M.C.” Matthews joined PE on stage to kick out their 1988 track, “How’d Ya Do It Dee?” from Tougher Than Leather. Damn.
Public Enemy and Run DMC on Dutch television, 1988
Public Enemy and Run DMC on Dutch television, 1988. Chuck is asking the audience to throw up the “peace sign”
Despite all the good times that you will see in the video below, there is a slightly uncomfortable interview segment with the two (rather clueless) female hosts of the show. The interview was already going off the rails—thanks to the always brutally honest Professor Griff)—but then the always eloquent Chuck D. decides to give a pop quiz his hosts about the Netherlands’ political system, which they obviously don’t know a lot about…

Here come the drums!

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Public Enemy’s ‘It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back’ Deconstructed

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Just a nude drawing of Donald Trump in all his glory
08:11 am



This seems fitting, right? The pastel drawing is by Illma Gore and appropriately titled “Make America Great Again.”

From the artist:

“Make America Great Again” is about the significance we place on our physical selves. One should not feel emasculated by their penis size or vagina, as it does not define who you are. Your genitals do not define your gender, your power, or your status.

Simply put you can be a massive prick, despite what is in your pants.

But Illma, tell us how you really feel about Donald Trump…

Click here to see a larger image.

via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
An actual rose bush plays ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn’
02:31 pm



What’s that, friend? You say you’re narcotized by modern life, and Cupid’s arrow has lost its sting? Love just doesn’t hurt like it used to do?

If hearing Bret Michaels serenade Rock of Love contestants with his 1988 hit “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” wasn’t painful enough for you, artist Michael Ridge has come up with just the thing to give this hoary old power ballad some spice. With the aid of a contact mike, Ridge has figured out how to play Poison’s hit on his turntable using a branch from a rose bush in place of a stylus arm, and like actual thorns doing the needle’s job.

Remember that one relationship that “really put you through some changes”? It felt just like this sounds. As I type this, I am suffering serious chest pain!

Thanks to Aaron Dilloway and John Olson of Violent Ramp

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Doin’ the do with Betty Boo, the original spice girl
12:22 pm



If you are say, 35 years of age and up, hearing the opening bars of “Doin’ the Do,” the 1990 smash hit single by Betty Boo will probably bring an instant smile of recognition to your face. I could easily “name that tune” with just the very first note, and so can many of you reading this very sentence, I’m pretty sure. If you are younger than 35, however then you probably only know it as that catchy song they always play at LA Fitness during your spinning class.

Betty Boo was the original Spice Girl—it’s fairly well documented that Chris Herbert, one of the music biz managers who originally “manufactured” the Spice Girls was looking for “five Betty Boos”—but this is not to imply that Boo—real name Alison Clarkson—was a pre-fab pop star because she was anything but, not only writing, but producing much of her debut album, the platinum-selling Boomania. She was the real deal, even if this was not widely recognized during her brief fame.

When she was 16 and still in school, Clarkson joined a Salt-n-Pepa influenced rap trio called She Rockers. In a chance encounter in 1988 with Public Enemy’s “Minister of Information” Professor Griff in a McDonald’s in Shepherd’s Bush—incredibly caught on video—the cheeky young Clarkson performed an impromptu rap with Griff’s “beatbox” accompaniment. This led to She Rockers going to New York where Griff produced their debut single “Give it a Rest.” She Rockers also opened for PE during some American tour dates, but Clarkson soon left the group.

Back in London, she attended a course at the Holloway School of Audio Engineering and sang as a guest vocalist on a hit single by the Beatmasters, “Hey DJ / I Can’t Dance (To That Music You’re Playing)” in 1989, which led to her getting signed as a solo artist. With the financial windfall from the Beatmasters collaboration, Clarkson loaded up on audio equipment—samplers, sequencers, keyboards—so Betty Boo could do her own do. Boomania, which spawned three hit singles, was largely self-produced on her own equipment in her own bedroom, and written by Clarkson herself.

When Boomania came out, I played the shit out of that record. Pure pop perfection in a glossy pop art package. What’s not to love? The album’s first single was “Doin’ the Do.” The way she spits out her brassy, sassy rap out here is razor-sharp. Monie Love-level good!

“Doin’ the Do”

If you don’t think that song is absolutely amazing, please stop reading this blog. I hate you.

Annoyingly, she was seldom given full credit for her accomplishments, not even for her own highly original fashion sense!

Clarkson lamented to The Independent in 1992:

‘When you’re a girl and you make pop music, it’s assumed you haven’t got a mind of your own. But it was me who wanted the Emma Peel look.’

And she chose her musical style, too, that blend of rap and frothy pop. ‘I like the Beatles, the Monkees. I like dinky sounds. I’d like to sound like the young Michael Jackson - sweet.’ She did a course at the Holloway School of Audio Engineering and co-produces her recordings. She says it sometimes irks her how little credit she gets for that, but she offsets her frustration with the thought that ‘the people who buy my records like the sound of my voice and the tune; they’re not interested in credits’


I met Betty Boo in New York in the summer of 1990. It was in a nightclub where I was working at the time called Mars on the Westside Highway just below 14th street. I think it was her publicist from Sire Records who introduced us. I told her that I really loved Boomania and congratulated her on the clever use of the “morse code” Reparata and the Delrons interpolation (it’s not really a sample) from “Captain of Your Ship” in “Doin’ the Do,” which she seemed quite pleased someone had noticed. Obviously, she was a complete knockout and although she would have only been 20 at the time, she was reserved and serious, giving the impression of being someone who was very much in control of her own destiny. She didn’t in any way act all full of herself, either, as you would expect a young person thrust suddenly into that kind of rockstar fame might behave. I thought she’d go on to become a big star, but her second album, Grrr! It’s Betty Boo—which is excellent, too—sold disappointingly. She was on the verge of signing with Madonna’s newly formed Maverick Records—Madonna has praised Betty Boo several times in interviews—when her mother became terminally ill and she took time off to care for her, and later her grandmother, effectively abandoning her performing career.
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Meet the legendary ‘glam rock’ wrestler of the 1970s, Adrian Street
11:59 am



In Britain during the 1970s live wrestling matches were broadcast every Saturday afternoon on the ITV channel. Millions of fans tuned in to watch such legendary British wrestlers as Mick McManus, Jackie Pallo, Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy. These men were working class heroes—no nonsense traditional wrestlers in trunks and boots. Though they looked like your Dad—a bit a chubby, with a liking for beer—in the ring they were ruthless. Each was a master of a particular wrestling technique with which they showed off their athletic prowess.

Then one Saturday there arrived Adrian Street—a peroxide blonde, in lipstick and mascara, nail polish and pantyhose. He was the most glamorous wrestler on the planet. Street was camp, outrageous, a glam rock wrestling superstar who dispatched his opponents without chipping a fingernail. He was the “merchant of menace,” the “sweet transvestite with a broken nose.” A herald of the social and sexual changes happening at full tilt across the country. He was loved and loathed in equal measure—an older generation feared what he represented; a younger generation embraced it.
Each week Adrian turned up in more elaborate costumes, more glittering makeup and a selection of moves that brought the crowds to their feet. His trademark was to kiss his opponent. While they reeled from the shock of being kissed by another man, Adrian flattened them with a forearm smash, a drop kick, or his favorite the sleeper hold.

Adrian Street was born into a mining family in Brynmawr, Wales in 1940.  As a child he fantasized about running away with a tribe of Native American Indians. He wandered neighboring fields dreaming he was Tarzan and picking bluebells to give to his mother. In his teens he started body-building and briefly worked with his father down the mines. He then moved to London where he began his wrestling career in 1957. He was trained by Chic Osmond and fought under the name Kid Tarzan. During his time in London Adrian had his first taste of bohemia life hanging out with artists and writers most notably Francis Bacon. By the late sixties, Adrian reinvented himself as the androgynous wrestler “The Exotic One.” He went on to fight an estimated 15,000 bouts over a seven decade career.
In 2010 the artist Jeremy Deller made a documentary on Adrian Street called So Many Ways To Hurt You. Deller had been inspired to make his film by a photograph of the wrestler.

I first became aware of [Adrian] through a photograph showing him with his father in 1973, which seemed to me possibly the most important photograph taken post-war. It encapsulates the whole history of Britain in that period – of our uneasy transition from being a centre of heavy industry to a producer of entertainment and services. It’s a rather bizarre and disturbing photograph, taken when Adrian went back to Wales, to the mine that he had worked in as a young man, to meet his father. Adrian’s still very much alive and still wrestling in Florida, where he has settled. He’s an incredible person, who has tremendous willpower and a great sense of his own worth. His story has an epic quality to it, he has basically reinvented himself for the late twentieth century.

As much of an influence as all the pop artists who liberated teenage minds during the 1970s, Adrian Street opened up a world of rich diversity to an older generation who had been shaped by the austerity and hardship of post-War Britain.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Stranger in a Strange Land’: 1987 documentary on Nick Cave from Dutch TV
11:53 am



One of the first images in “Nick Cave: Stranger in a Strange Land” is a glimpse of the Berlin Wall, which (it’s strange to imagine) would only be in use for a couple more years. “Stranger in a Strange Land” was produced in 1987 by Bram van Splunteren, and it appeared on the Dutch TV channel VPRO. I saw the second half of this movie when I was living in Austria in the early to mid-1990s, so it’s a pleasure to come across it again!

Cave lived in Berlin in the 1980s, during which he appeared in one of the greatest movies of all time, Wim Wenders’ Das Himmel Über Berlin, known to English speakers as Wings of Desire.

Giving the crew a tour of his digs, Cave says one of those things only Nick Cave would say, glumly referencing “my collection of German Gothic paintings, my gun, and my desk.” Later he grabs his “little black book,” which is a little album containing some startling religious iconography, some of which made it into the artwork for the 1986 album Your Funeral ... My Trial.

There’s some bracing footage of Cave with the Birthday Party as well as rehearsals with the Bad Seeds, during which Cave belts out the chorus to “Yesterday,” of all possible things. In the rehearsal we see them do a version of “The Singer,” which appears on Kicking Against The Pricks.

The voiceover is in Dutch, but the interviews with Cave, Blixa Bargeld, Mick Harvey and so on are in English. Mark E. Smith pops up unexpectedly, Cave makes a joke about “two hugely intelligent frontmen.”


Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Nick Cave’s handwritten dictionary

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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