media literacy

[Fan fiction is] a reaction to large publishers, a reaction to mass media,“ she says. "It’s a reinterpretation from a minority point of view, a female point of view, an LGBTQ point of view, a queer point of view — it’s reinterpreted to represent people who are often not represented in mass media.”
—  Nistasha Perez, from this article about Amazon’s Kindle Worlds

A reminder to all who haven’t heard: THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS WILL RIDE AGAIN…FUELED BY NETFLIX…IN 2016.

You read that right. Through Netflix’s acquisition of Scholastic, a 26-episode series will kick off in 2016, called The Magic School Bus 360°.

From the announcement via Mashable:

Netflix and Scholastic Media announced in a press statement that the new series will use CGI animation to feature a “modernized Ms. Frizzle” and an “inventive high-tech bus — so it looks like the companies are not afraid to take chances and make mistakes (and probably get messy in the process). The very 21st-century show will also focus on modern tech innovations, including robotics and wearables.

The all-new episodes also leverage advancements in animation, science and technology in a way that will delight a new generation of young viewers, and like its predecessor, will help kids around the world discover the magic and value of exploration and innovation, a press statement reads.

Listen to the original Magic School Bus theme music

The Magic School Bus is the longest-running kids’ science series in history, first airing on PBS in 1994 and continuing in syndication for 18 consecutive years. It has even earned an Emmy Award. (Undoubtedly for Liz the Lizard’s acting.)

Magic School Bus, the old version, is remarkably popular on Netflix, Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer told The New York Times. It teaches science in a way that transcends generations.

Scholastic Media has not yet announced if the original Ms. Frizzle, Lily Tomlin, will return to voice the character.

And from a similar announcement via CNN:

To do an animated show that has actually encouraged young people to pursue careers in the sciences or teaching makes us very, very happy.

– Forte, President, Scholastic Media

2016. The Magic School Bus. The original ship of the imagination.


Whether you’re a feminist or a fangirl or you just like to learn, these six “Tropes vs Women” episodes of Feminist Frequency are absolutely fascinating. Host Anita Sarkeesian makes sure you’ll never look at entertainment the same way. 


Stonewall (Movie) - Whitewashing & Trans Erasure

The plot of the movie follows the perspective of a gay, white, cis-male protagonist. When historically, an African-American, butch, lesbian woman, Stormé DeLarverie, actually accounted for the pivotal moment that sparked the Stonewall riots. Transgender people of color, Marsha P. Johnson or Sylvia Rivera, among others, also played an immense role in Stonewall. The movie is capitalising on the erasure of the people who started the Stonewall movement by whitewashing, cis-ifying and rewriting LGBTQ history.

Conventionally the media presents an image that the world is built by a young generation of white, straight, cis men acting as knights in shining armour. The movie also applies this ideal, although the protagonist is gay, he is still a white, cis-man. In short its about a white boy saving the gays. The movie thus serves as a disservice to the individuals who fought and started the LGBTQ liberation.

Revised on August 7th 2015: Original version made it seem as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera sparked the Stonewall movement, and although they were pivotal, Stormé DeLarverie’s involvement ignited the Stonewall movement. 

So here's what I've found about the NAACP bombing today

-NAACP office in Colorado Springs was bombed at 11am today
-no one was hurt, but part of the building is burned
-no mainstream news has covered this, even though suspect is still missing
-here’s the official description of the suspect:

“The FBI said it is looking for a person of interest, described as a balding white man in his 40s who may be driving a dirty, 2000 or older model, white pick-up truck with paneling, an open tailgate, and a missing or covered license plate.”

Re: Captain America

I see a lot of people up in arms about the possibility of Steve Rogers joining Hydra. Well, it’s not true.

The source of that story, The Outhousers, is satire.

From the About Page:

The Outhouse has basically done for comics news what The Onion did for regular news, shown how ridiculous and formulaic and wrong it all is.


My advice to people is that before you pass along concerns about an inflammatory story make sure that it is has been reported by a reliable source, preferable multiple reliable sources.

There is plenty to be pissed at Marvel at from a Jewish perspective. Plenty. But they haven’t done this.

Edit: So this turned out to be a legit scoop. Regardless, I stand by my argument that we need to approach news from satire sites or non-reputable sources with skepticism. 

How I Met Your Mother – Fatphobia

“Over 200 women, spanning six continents, 17 nationalities, 74 sexual positions, and not a single fatty. It’s impressive.”

This is said by a character in Barney’s imagination, and it is just one example of the fat phobia in How I Met Your Mother. It usually comes from Barney but other characters are guilty of this as well. For example, this is an interaction between Marshall, Barney, and Robin.

Marshall: He’s rich? Please tell me he wrote you a big, fat check. A check so fat, it doesn’t take its shirt off when it goes swimming.

Barney: That is a big, fat check. A check so fat, after you have sex with it, you don’t tell your buddies about it.

Robin: A check so fat, when it sits next to you on an airplane, you ask yourself if it should have bought two seats.

The show constantly puts down overweight people, especially women, and makes it into a joke. For example:

Barney: […] why can’t there be a day for those who are single and like it that way?

Marshall: Now you just sound like a fat girl at Valentine’s Day.

While giving advice to Ted about a threesome, Barney asked if “the aggregate weight of both contestants [is] under 400 pounds” In another episode, Barney revealed that he talks to overweight women at the gym, but will not have sex with them until they have lost weight. He also installed a body weight calculator under his doormat, and explained it with:

Let’s say the young lady you’re bringing home is dressed for winter. Under those layers, an unwelcome surprise could await you. The scale with body fat calculator I’ve hidden under the welcome mat makes sure you never have banger’s remorse.

When talking to a minister about his wedding, there is the following interaction:

Minister: If you want to get married in my church, you’ll stop breaking the ninth commandment.

Barney: Uh, no fat chicks?

Minister: Thou shalt not lie!

Barney: With fat chicks?

The show treats larger women as if they are a joke and not real people, and this is a common problem in media that needs to stop.

Updated on August 5th 2015: Changed overweight to larger women, seeing as overweight implies that there is a weight standard people should conform to. 

We get stories much faster than we can make sense of them, informed by cellphone pictures and eyewitnesses found on social networks and dubious official sources like police scanner streams. Real life moves much slower than these technologies. There’s a gap between facts and comprehension, between finding some pictures online and making sense of how they fit into a story. What ends up filling that gap is speculation. On both Twitter and cable, people are mostly just collecting little factoids and thinking aloud about various possibilities. They’re just shooting the shit, and the excrement ends up flying everywhere and hitting innocent targets.

Farhad Manjoo, Slate. Breaking News Is Broken.

FJP: Two things here – Adopt a slow news diet or pay very close attention to how you follow breaking news. Else, as Farhad suggests, take a long walk.

Dear LEGO - Take the Street Harassment Out of Your Stickers

My son is just getting into Legos, so I thought he’d love these stickers. Then I took a closer look and saw that one of the construction workers (the only one wearing “cool” sunglasses) was labeled “Hey Babe!”

I was stunned. Maybe it’s the fact that I just saw the team at Hollaback speak this month, or maybe it is that this is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, or maybe it is just that street harassment sucks. But chances are it was all three of these things that made me so mad to see a brand I love pushing this sort of thing.

The Hollaback website notes that street harassment is the most prevalent form of sexual violence for both men and women in the United States. Internationally, they point out, “studies show that between 70-99% of women experience street harassment at some point during their lives.”

Lego hasn’t really been on a roll recently when it comes to gender and its toys. See for example this post over at Ms. Magazine that picks apart the images of beauty in Lego’s new line of toys for girls (and check out the great ad from 1981 to see how far they have fallen).

Needless to say, I didn’t buy the stickers. 

(UPDATE: LEGO has responded to the concern over these stickers - Read more)