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Monday, Dec 11, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

Will.i.am and Common perform Common’s new single “A Dream”. The song was produced by Will.i.am and will be featured on the soundtrack for the upcoming film Freedom Writers, in theaters January 5th. Get more at Youtube.com/beheard.


Common and Will.i.am - “A Dream” Live Performance


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Monday, Dec 11, 2006

In continuing to mull over the ways in which child-care responsibilities derail women’s careers, I began reading The Way We Never Were, a history of the American family by Stephanie Coontz. She puts forward the argument that in promoting individualism (and a separate private sphere), capitalism also instigates a gendered division of labor that shunts onto women all the various ways in which we remain socially dependent, locating them all within the family and outside of the public sphere and the recognized economy so that men can be productively self-seeking: “Self-reliance and independence worked for men because women took care of dependence and obligation…. The cult of the self-made man required the cult of the True Woman”—the “angel in the house”. (This argument is echoed in Nancy Armstrong’s Desire and Domestic Fiction, which finds evidence for it in female-authored novels). Women are presumed to be altruistic by default, while men are “rational” and businesslike in pursuing their advantage, maximizing utility and so on. And when the dog-eat-dog Hobbsean world of unfettered individualism begins to upset men, they can turn to their sheltered women, who exist above such calculation and competition, for solace. “Men began to romanticize women as givers of services and emotions thhat could not be bought on the open market or claimed as political tribute but seemed to flow from generosity and self-sacrifice rather than calculation of exchange.” (Sociologist Arlie Hochschild’s notion of emotion work, laid out in The Managed Heart is relevent to this, too; she argues that women make a economic resource of their emotional management skills after having other avenues to economic self-sufficiency systematically closed off.) From this historical account Coontz concludes that “liberal capitalism’s organization of both society and family depended on a rigid division of labor by gender that denied women the assertiveness that was supposedly the basis of contract rights and denied men the empathy that was supposedly the basis of companionate marriage. The chasm…was to be bridged by love.” (Laura Kipnis’s Against Love has a good rundown of all the confusion, hypocrisy and injustice that stems from this sentimental arrangement.) This, then, is the backdrop against which we are socialized into our genders. If you accept this account of capitalism’s rise, the difficulty of educating away the gender gap in career outcomes becomes much more stark. Those gendered tendencies are embedded in the structures that allowed our economy to assume the form we assimilate ourselves to. The whole thing seems like an inescapable, tautological loop.


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Monday, Dec 11, 2006

Shoes: A History from Sandals to Sneakers by Giorgio Riello (Editor), Peter McNeil (Editor) [Palgrave Macmillan $49.95]


This hefty, richly illustrated book provides deliciously high-end thinking about that which embraces our lowest ends: from the most minimal of sandals of Classical Greece to the coarsest military boots worn in World War I; from the tiny shoes made for a Chinese woman’s cruelly bound foot to the impossibly towering, tottering “chopines” shoes of renaissance Venice; from the coveted suave of hip-hop trainers to the high tech running shoes of modern day marathoners.  How we are shod throughout time and place speaks volumes about class, sexuality, and personality.  This book is as meticulously crafted as men’s finest Italians, and as entertaining to contemplate as the most impossible of stilettos.  Call it Foot for Thought for the cultural historian you love. [Amazon]


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Monday, Dec 11, 2006

NHL ‘07 (Various Platforms) [Electronic Arts - $29.99-$54.99]


The arrival of “next-gen” systems always means major overhauls for the sports games we’ve come to know and love.  Sure, all the love these days goes to the Madden franchise, but even since the days of the Sega Genesis, hockey’s been the sport that translates best to video gaming, and this year is no exception.  This is the year hockey went the Smash TV route, with almost all the control in the XBox 360 version of the game handled by the two analog sticks rather than the buttons: the left stick controls the player’s feet, and the right stick controls the hockey stick.  It sounds so simple, but it’s a revolutionary move, and it’s enough to make you want to invite over that dude that beat the hell out of you in NHL ‘95 12 years ago to give him the what-for in the new version.  Plus, NHL ‘07 has been transformed into a budget title for the gasping-for-breath current-gen systems, making it the perfect gift for those budget-conscious buyers. 



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Monday, Dec 11, 2006

Lollilove [Troma - $19.98]


Welcome to one of the best movies of the year. Yes, Troma’s LolliLove is just that good. Though it should have been a problematic project from the start—the mockumentary and/or ad-libbed comedy are two of the trickiest cinematic styles to get right, let alone perfect—what co-writer/director Jenna Fischer and her Hollywood screenwriter husband James Gunn have managed here is nothing short of pure comedic bliss. Brave, brazen, and filled with the kind of well-observed satire that’s practically impossible to capture on film, this ode to questionable intentions and even more perplexing protocols takes Tinseltown by the throat and really rings its silly, self-important neck. All we can do is laugh at the truth and wonder how far this filmmaker will push the concept. [Amazon]


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