A Look at “Gloria: In Her Own Words”

Last week, I had the pleasure of checking out an early screening of the documentary “Gloria: In Her Own Words,” which airs tonight on HBO at 9 ET. Instead of being just a simple documentary chronicling the feminist movement, it’s a powerful and intimate portrait of Gloria Steinem, reflecting back on both her professional and personal successes and crusades. Director Peter Kunhardt brought the story to life with archival footage juxtaposed with recent interviews of Steinem and we are given an in depth look at the personal toll of being America’s poster ‘girl’ for feminism. What was it like to be Gloria – a woman so vehemently loved and hated by a nation for over forty years?

This film might seem a bit too ‘on the surface’ for social and feminist historians, but as an intimate portrait of Steinem it’s successful and incredibly powerful. The documentary uses archival footage, period footage and current interviews to tell the tale that is Steinem’s rise to notoriety on behalf of American women, and seems to celebrate her actions without making her a martyr to the cause. Steinem is now allowed to reflect honestly one what brought her to the feminism fold and her early freelance assignments in NYC that made her aware that she wasn’t alone in feeling that as a female journalist she was not being taken seriously. Steinem says, “I’m not sure if I knew what feminism was. I thought if I was having difficulty, it was my own personal fault.” And after an assignment covering the early pro-choice/ Roe vs Wade movement for New York Magazine, she understood that it wasn’t just her, but the system as a whole. With her looks, access to editors and ability to connect with a large audience, Gloria found her footing in the movement. “Gloria” manages to tell the story of a feminist icon, without detracting from other movements, such as NOW and Betty Friedan, as well as those who worked alongside Steinem like congresswoman Bella Abzug and activist Flo Kennedy, whom she considered not only allies, but close and personal friends.

“Gloria” is able to look back as to why she might have been chosen as the face of the cause and where she sees the movement headed, alongside giving praise to the many women who stood beside her in the revolution for equality. While Steinem does dip back into her childhood and her love life, these plot points act more as explanatory exercises in why a woman who could easily have attracted notoriety by towing the line and continuously churning out standard women-centric fare and how she felt she was necessary to the cause. We watch the creation and evolution of Ms. Magazine, which Steinem and co. started in part when unable to tell ‘their’ stories, the backlash from the mainstream media and its continued success. This is more than just a portrait of a person — it’s also a great showcase of the power of a community. Her role as caretaker for her mother, her sadness of the life her mother had to endure, and her missing her father all played a dramatic part in the strength you need to be the face of the feminist movement. While celebrated by millions, Gloria was also the target of hate and was the punching bag for the eventual evolution of America.

What struck me most from the film was the reality as to how far we’ve come in the past fifty years, and how much further we need to go to achieve equality. Steinem even herself believes these movements take nearly 100 years to actualize change, so we are halfway there.

Check out the below clip before tuning in tonight’s premiere airing on “Gloria: In Her Own Words.” And if you plan on watching, why not join the Twitter watch party with the Women’s Media Center – Use #gloria and #WMC to join the conversation.

The film was an incredible treat, but the post screening Q & A with Ms. Gloria Steinem herself was amazing. To be given a half an hour to pick the brain of Gloria Steinem was incredible, and you can read more about this and what Ms. Gloria Steinem means to me tomorrow on Spielster. And you can ask Ms. Steinem herself where she sees the movement headed with an HBO live chat tomorrow at 4pm EST/1 PST on HBO Connect.

Texas Forever – FNL says goodbye, again

Last night, we said goodbye to the folks of Dillon, Texas and probably one of the most beloved TV series of all time – Friday Night Lights.

The show ended its final and fifth season last night, for a second time, with a perfect finale. “Always” was able to capture the essence of the main characters, including Dillon itself, and provide us devout fans with just enough closure to know that Eric and Tami Taylor, Tim Riggins, Tyra, Matt, Julie and Vince were moving forward, where they need to be. A show that went beyond the drama that occurs on a football field, FNL was about the American family, the dreams you hope to reach, and the battles you come across in your attempts. It was about the relationships between people: marriages, friendship and professional ties. And at the core of the show it was all about SUPPORT. Support from your husband or wife, your best friend, your teammate, your guidance counselor, the old man at a BBQ place – wherever.

From the moment I saw the pilot, I was hooked on the show. It was a mini-movie, but not in the way that other series pilots are where they cram so much information within the first episode you feel guilted in to tuning in again. You were watching an entire town’s hopes and dreams be flushed down the toilet. Jason Street – all American, handsome, good kid – manages to ruin his life with a simple tackle, and the rest of the town, from his girlfriend, his best friend, his parents, coach, teammates and everyone else who was counting on him, so they could count on someone, were directly effected. Tragic events manage to have a ripple effect and the FNL pilot showcased that in a way that was so seductive and raw, you didn’t want to look away. You couldn’t – you were fully vested in the Dillon Panthers.

It’s not hard for me to make sense of why this show has had such an impact on me, specifically over the past year. I hit 30, got married and don’t actually balk at the idea of settling down in a house with my husband and our dog, and a possible family. I have become nostalgic in a way that I didn’t think would occur, where I can look at the past fondly without wishing I was there. I was a cheerleader, an athlete, a semi-stoner, and a teen with a job at the mall. The way Friday Night Lights captures the process of living – the expansive blue sky, muddied up football field and two-bedroom ranch homes as the settings for marriage quarrels, teenage pining, elderly nostalgia, and future dreaming – is in one word brilliant. You care immediately about the town, their love of the game and of each other, and how sometimes the simple little things can lead to a total other life. And this show is no longer a hidden gem, with its presence on Netflix, syndication on ESPN Classic, oodles of critical and mainstream support, not to mention the four Emmy nominations it received last Thursday. FNL has done what many other series haven’t and simply couldn’t – it bridge the gap between the beauty of TV and the realism of life. Peter Berg, the creator and executive producer, was smart enough when he developed the show for TV to cast unknowns, film it in Texas, in real settings and far away from Hollywood magic. FNL could have easily become overdone and overwrought, but its realness allowed it to maintain an authenticity, and that’s what I believe was the driving force to the series.

With the show ending, Grantland compiled an oral history of the program that confirms a lot of things that many of us loved about the show. It’s rare nowadays to be completely transplanted in to another world that isn’t very different from your own. And apparently I am not the only one who doesn’t want my trip to Dillon, TX to end this soon. Berg, who directed the original film based on the popular novel and then adapted it to the small screen as a series a few years later, has said that he is currently working on a way to bring the next part of the FNL story to the big screen. But let’s not get excited yet – this sort of idea can take years to occur, since the rights to the show and story are in about six different production companies and studios hands. But if fan enthusiasm can dictate the studio’s next move, we have not seen the last of the Taylors. Personally, last night’s finale, even after my fourth viewing, was so well done and a near perfect wrap up of the show, I can understand any hesitance to revisit Dillon on the big screen. But that being said, I would be first in line to spend some more time with Tim Riggins, Vince Howard, Jason Street, Tami and Coach Taylor. And here is my personal plea to Peter Berg – I am available for hire, so let me know if you would like me to head to Austin because I will do anything to work on this, and with you.

Back to the show, I will sincerely miss my time in Dillon and plan on revisiting with season 1 later this summer. Hopefully, the cast and crew will get their due come September when Emmy awards are handed out, and that this post-finale praise across the internet brings more and more fans to the fold. In twenty years, Friday Night Lights will hands down be one of the most referenced and appreciated programs in TV history, and it has certainly earned it. I have embedded the finale “Always” below for readers who have yet to see it.

In the words of Coach Taylor, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” TEXAS FOREVER, and ever.

DALLAS is back!

There are few things within pop culture that mean as much to me as DALLAS I literally grew up watching the show, which might not have been the smartest thing for a seven year old, but whatever! I spent many a Friday night with my mother and grandmother, snacking on potato chips and a few cokes, visiting Southfork Ranch. I learned about oil tycoons, dueling brothers and high stakes business in Dallas, TX so when I heard about TNT’s reboot of the show I was worried. Could this live up to the original? Would it tarnish the memory? Will JR Ewing be back and in charge?

The jury is out on all my questions until the summer of 2012, when the show will premiere, but TNT wanted to get us all riled up a whole year early and released a trailer. First, I got chills just from hearing the theme song again, which speaks volumes about dorkiness. But it seems things haven’t changed much in the Ewing family, as Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy reprise their roles as JR and Bobby Ewing. They are still battling for good and evil and trying to squash the rivalry between their own sons. Charlene Tilton and Linda Gray will also return, and the new cast is rounded out by Josh Henderson, Jordana Brewster and Jesse Metcalfe. Are you like me and super excited to spend some more time at Southfork? How about a return to some serious evening soaps in the sea of reality TV? Check out the trailer below and let me know what you think.

Do you think this reboot will succeed with DALLAS fans, and manage to attract a whole new viewership? Are you thrilled to see the Ewing brothers fight the good fight once again? Let me know in the comments below.

A Look at the HomeGoods Decorating Event

Two weeks ago I told you all about the awesome HomeGoods and BlogHer event I was going to and I have to say it was a great time! Let’s get right to it, HomeGoods has everything. And they certainly know how to treat a blogger well. I was a bit bummed to get a chance to shop there at their special event right after my wedding (literally three weeks) because I just got almost everything I could have wanted for my home courtesy of bridal showers and wedding gifts. The newest NYC location was super easy to get to, and we were welcomed right away with a representative and a gift card for my mother and myself. And hat tip to HomeGoods for letting me bring my mom, who just helped me plan for my wedding, as she is a huge HomeGoods fan. I looked at it as some serious bonding time, and doesn’t love some shopping quality time with mom. Since I had only a few must-pick ups at the store, I wanted to really see what they had to offer before settling on the best way to tackle this shopping excursion.

The selection was great, with brand names at great prices but as opposed to similar stores that offer bargains on top brands, it didn’t feel picked over nor leftover merchandise. It was awesome to go shopping with a bunch of other lifestyle bloggers because we all chatted about what we were getting throughout the party and I picked up a few ideas from some of the ladies. I knew I wanted to check out the linens section as we were still in need of a lighter comforter for the upcoming summer months. I thought it would be cool too to see if there were any throw pillows to go with my brand new couch and some smaller pots to complete my kitchen collection. There were a handful of things that caught my eye that might not be considered necessities, but I wanted them anyway. My mother picked up two new sheet sets for her new bedroom set and a few kitchen items, including some cool cooking mixes. Continue reading

Decorating With HomeGoods

As a very recent newlywed, I have been tasked (by myself) with updating the décor in my home. My husband and I have lived together for nearly ten years and we are in desperate need of a mini-home makeover. So it was amazing timing that I was picked as a blogger by the lovely ladies behind BlogHer to participate in an exciting HomeGoods lifestyle shopper event.

If you are unfamiliar with HomeGoods, it is an amazing home décor and goods store where you can get everything for your place, like rugs, lamps, vases and even stuff for your garden. And the best part of HomeGoods is you can stay in style and not break your bank. This store was a huge help a few weeks ago when I was looking for affordable decorations and vases for my wedding reception. Unfortunately I had to trek all the way out to Long Island a few times to check out the goods since there wasn’t a store close to me in New York City – until now.

HomeGoods just opened up its first New York City location and has graciously opened their doors to a few select bloggers to shop early and report back to their readers about the space. HomeGoods is allowing me to shop, along with my mom and another pal, for a few must-have items to help me spruce up my living room. And they want you to join in on the fun too! Continue reading

Sifting through the day's pop culture goodies..so you don't have to!