Presenting my paper — “The Woman in the Room: Lucille Kallen and Your Show of Shows”
One of the most fun parts of being a part of the academic world (cue “Little Mermaid” music) is the conferences. Are they exhausting? Sure! But you get to hear talks on your pet subjects, attend cool events, and explore a new place. Plus, you do not feel that oppressive “grad school guilt” to be working on your own stuff, because you are working, sorta…
This year’s Popular Culture Association/American Studies Association was held in our nation’s capital, where I listened to talks on some of my favorite TV shows (including Girls, The Newsroom, and Homeland), a talk-back with Oliver Stone, a burlesque*/improv comedy show, the 1951 movie The Day The Earth Stood Still, and a kite festival/contest outside Washington Monument.
My panel was on Women and Television and featured some great talks on Lena Dunham, Joss Whedon, and Ellen Degeneres. I gotta tell you, I could study popular culture until the cows come home….
I learned something very special during my panel, something I would like to share with my readers. One of my colleagues was speaking about Sophia Rose, the adorable self-aggrandizing tot who performs on Ellen. My question became: “When Sophia Rose says she’s great, we all applaud her confidence, but when Anne Hathaway shows a whiff of the same, there is a huge back-lash against her: she is childish, she is too girlish, she is arrogant! At what age are women no longer allowed to be like Sophia Rose?”
Professor Rhonda Matthews, in our panel audience, replied: “Middle age.”
My take-away: if you are pre-pubescent or post-menopausal, call yourself awesome. All of the period in which you can get your period, [false] humility is the path to popularity. Noted! See how much you can learn from studying contemporary media!
*To some, it would seem that burlesque and academia do not go together; welcome to Gender Studies, kids! That said, I think I am too incurably Second-Wave to enjoy those sorts of performances. Even consensual objectification makes me arch my eyebrow and internally intone “Problematic…”