Tag Archive: The Boondocks


Been super busy with writing gigs, school and running book clubs. As summer approaches, the promised themes will begin and there will be an increase of post. But until then, why not do a more personal post so you can get to know me a little better.

This survey is based on the Anglo alphabet, but since this blogger is also fluent in Finnish this survey will add the Letters Ä and Ö. The survey was originally created by the blogger Jamie over at The perpetual page-turner”.

A: Author you´ve read most from.

Tove Jansson. I took a class on her authorship at the University before I got a Bachelor degree. Because of that I´ve read nearly all the Moomin books and comics, and one of her standalone novels, ”The Summer Book”. While ”The Moomins”-series is one of the best book series out there, ”The Summer book” kind of faded from memory.

B: Best Sequel Ever.

Alice through the looking glass”. A major accomplishment considering its predecessor. While I´ve always loved both ”Alice”-novels, ”Alice through the looking glass” was the book I made my dad re-read to me continually before I learned to read myself.

C: Currently reading

Ender´s Game” by Orson Scott Card. The copy I have was bought at ”Housing Works”, a second hand store in Manhattan (so no profits have gone to Card! The profits in fact went to giving aid to homeless people and people diagnosed with HIV) last year. I am reading it for a Science Fiction book club. 85% and find it to be a very engaging read, but a little formulaic at times.

D: Drink of choice while reading:

Lidl´s Cola light. Cheap and tasty.

E: E-reader or Physical book?

Physical book. But I also love Audiobooks. When stuck doing house chores, traveling on a crowded buss or cooking, an audiobook gives readers the opportunity to multitask.

F: Fictional Character you probably would have actually dated in High School:

If he would be aged up, Huey Freeman. (This counts because of the comics). When I was sixteen years old, Huey Freeman was my idea of a perfect man: politically active, nerdy, serious, and badass. Now, I´m not so sure. He´s a bit of anti-social sometimes 😀

G: Glad you gave this book a chance:

To all the boys I´ve loved before” and its sequel, ”P. S. I still love you” by Jenny Han. While I tend to avoid romance books and books set in high school (the Young Adult novels I read usually take place outside of high school), these books are delightful in their sincere exploration of family, life, identity, and even bullying.

jennyhan

H: Hidden gem Book:

Butterfly burning” by Yvonne Vera. A forgotten feminist classic.

I: Important Moment in your reading life:

Reading ”The Trial” by Franz Kafka when in the 8th Grade (which made me at the time 14 years old). That´s when I truly fell in love with the written word.

J: Just Finished

Pig tales” by Marie Darrieussecq, a required reading book for a class at the University. The book is a first-person narrative about a woman who starts to slowly turn into a pig while dealing with a misogynistic boyfriend and working at a abusive cosmetics/brothel department store. It was a wild ride, with great biting satire.

pigtalescover

K: Kind of book you won´t read:

Self-help books. A very problematic part of our current neoliberal society.

L: Longest Book You´ve Read:

Blonde” by Joyce Carol Oates. It is 867 pages long (at least the copy I own has that amount of pages). It is a very easy read despite it´s length and is a very well crafted depiction of sexism in American culture.

M: Major book hangover because of:

No book, but usually after finishing an exam I have a couple days burn out where reading is impossible. This was especially true last February, when the stress of finishing my bachelor degree made me unable to do anything outside of school.

N: Number of bookcases you own:

Counting the ones I don´t share with my parents: six.

O: One book you´ve read multiple times:

I´ve read ”Home” by Toni Morrison twice.

P: Preferred place to read

On my bed.

Q: Quote that inspired you

Politics means accepting that things happen for a reason” – ”I love Dick” by Chris Kraus

and from the same book: ”Art, like God or The People, is fine for as long as you can believe in it”.

First quote sums up why I´m a feminist/leftist activist. The second sums up why I´d ever study literature and be a critic/poet.

R: Reading Regret

That I never finished ”All the light we cannot see” by Anthony Doerr. Everybody loved that book. My significant other read it in a week and could not stop talking about it last year.

S: Series you started and Need to Finish (in where all the books in the series are published):

I am yet to read ”Madaddam” by Margaret Atwood, the final book in the ”Madaddam” trilogy. I adored ”Oryx and Crake”, the first book in the series; it was fresh and original. The topics are also still relevant, with genetic mutation and environmental concerns, as well as child slavery.

addam4

T: Three of your All-time favorite books:

The Trial” by Franz Kafka, ”Waiting for the barbarians” by J. M. Coetzee, and ”The Handmaids tale” by Margaret Atwood.

U: Unapologetic Fangirl for:

The Hunger games”-trilogy by Suzanne Collins. These books have great characters and discuss issues most books shy away from (even the more progressive ones), such as Poverty.

V: Very excited for this release:

Hunger: A memoir of (my) body” by Roxanne Gay. It deals with a topic quite rare in literature, which is the eating disorder of over-eating. Can´t wait to finally read a book about this topic.

W: Worst book habit.

Reading multiple books at the same time. Means that some books I end up not finishing and adding it back to the to-be-read pile.

X: X marks the spot. (the blogger is suppose to Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book.

Brown girl dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson. Birthday gift this year.

Y: Your latest book purchase.

In one person” by John Irving and ”Jag vill ha ett liv” (”I want to have a life”) by Sofia Hedman from a second hand bookstore.

Z: ZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late)

Saga vol 2” by Brian K. Vaughan. Those comics are very addictive.

Bonus round!: Ä: ”Äitienpäivä”. (”Mothers day”). Most memorable mother character you´ve read.

Marigold from ”The Illustrated Mother” by Jacqueline Wilson. Marigold is a very imperfect, but very well-meaning, mother who tries to be a good parent but can´t because of her undiagnosed bipolar disorder, as well as being a single parent with illusions of a past love that will return to her. A very touching, if heartbreaking, depiction of parenthood.

illustrated

Ö: Finnish word that starts with ”Ö”.

Öljy. It means oil!

Take Care/ Maaretta

Christmas is on the way, so I decided to do a post with a theme for the holiday. A common thing for the holiday’s is one will write about their favorite films centering on Christmas, but I tend to enjoy such subject mattered cartoon shorts slightly more. Thus this article will feature some of my favorite cartoon Christmas specials and an explanation of why I am fond of these particular shorts. Most of these are episodes from shows I enjoy watching, but not all.

“For Whom The Sleigh Bell Tolls” from “American Dad!” – This is a pretty much hit and miss show, sliding between brilliance and dullness from episode to episode. But I can’t deny that this episode has everything I would like to see more often in a Christmas centered episode: bizarre re-telling of Christmas traditions, adventure, light social commentary, and, of course, a lesson on the importance of family union. It starts off with the father of the shows main family, Stan Smith, giving his fourteen year old son Steve a gun behind his wife Francine’s back. While practicing shooting, Steve accidently kills a man he assumes to be a mall Santa. Stan convinces his son to not tell anyone about the incident, and after Francine discovers what has happened, the whole family together buries the dead man in the woods, hoping they can put the horrific accident behind them. However, they soon receive threatening letters, and after discovering the unmarked grave to be empty, the Smiths realize the man they thought Steve killed was the real Santa Claus and he’s out for revenge…
The story in its self is already surrealistically hilarious and the animation is actually pretty good, as well as the final showdown between Santa and the Smiths being a very entertaining, and visually ironic, action sequence. The twist of Santa being a crazed vendetta seeking individual is particularly delightful in a perverse sense and sends the narrative in odd and satisfying directions. There’s also a very good subplot of how Stan has to learn to accept his daughter Hayley’s new husband as being a part of the family, as well as Hayley’s new husband (his name is Jeff) divining a direction and means to respond to Stan’s mean spirited behavior. Francine is a delightful combination of a wise as well as a bit of an amoral person, and it’s darkly, painfully funny to see how Steve develops from a nerdy innocent young boy into a gun nut. Not only one of the best animated Christmas centered episodes, but also one of “American Dad’s” best episodes.

“Depth Takes A Holiday” from “Daria” – This choice may come off as way cheat to some, but Christmas is a pretty major driving factor in the only fantasy based episode from the show. The Plot centers around the unlikely event of Daria suddenly encountering Cupid, the spirit of Valentine’s Day, and a Leprechaun, the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day on her way home. They tell Daria that Christmas, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day have all left the Island of Holidays, the resident home for all Holidays. However, since the recent runaways were the three most popular holidays, the natural order of both the High School like Island as well as the normal world have gone berserk and it’s up to Daria and her friend Jane to convince Christmas and the other popular holidays to return to their home – otherwise the world can kiss Christmas, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day good bye.
The best thing about this episode is that it not only is a good episode to watch on Christmas, but it also serves as a good Halloween, Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick ’s Day’s episode (not to mention Guy Fawkes Day). I also like how Daria, the heroine of the episode, keeps her trademark deadpan sarcastic attitude throughout the episode no matter how weird things become (or where ever she finds herself). The whole tone of the episode is pretty cynical as well, as the major threat portrayed with a world lacking Christmas and Halloween is only the decrease of shoppers for candy and presents ( Which Daria and Jane point out is not necessarily a horrible effect for the condition in which our world finds itself). Having a whole episode about Holidays and making it entirely skeptic about the often optimistic philosophies people have about Holidays is pretty brave and a rare move and the critique of consumerism is laid out by Daria and Jane early on in the episode. Absurd and sardonically comical, this is episode is a good watch for any holiday season.

“She of Little Faith” from “The Simpsons” – This episode from the Simpsons is mostly known for the canon decision of making Lisa, the eight-year old girl in the family, a Buddhist. Lisa grows concerned that the church has grown too materialistic for her, which leads her to find a new faith in Buddhism. While this decision makes Lisa very happy, her family as well as the rest of the members of the church are greatly displeased with her new way of life, and therefore attempt to make Lisa convert back to Christianity by using Christmas as bait. As one could guess, Lisa doesn’t respond to this plan coolly…
While Christmas originally is a Christian holiday, it has become more and more of a holiday many non-Christian people could celebrate as well (I myself celebrate it despite being very much an atheist!). This episode gently and beguilingly highlight the manner in which different beliefs can come together in the spirit of fellowship and kindness which the holiday entails and which the episode “She of Little Faith” brilliantly does by focusing on Buddhism. The Episode is an open song to tolerance as a main theme which we can all free to embrace. The episode’s end is touching in how Lisa resolves her conflict with her family, showing how everyone can have a nice holiday after they decide the most important thing is love and compassion, not who you pray to (or if you pray at all).

“A Huey Freeman Christmas” from “The Boondocks” – Here’s another somewhat cynical Christmas special, but it does also feature some of the sweetest moments in the series. Huey, a ten year old who is much wiser than his young years, gets the chance to direct as well as write his School’s Christmas Play. Huey dismisses the opportunity first since he “doesn’t give a damn about Christmas”. However, after his grandfather ignores his attempt to explain the actual history of the Christmas holiday, Huey becomes determined to make the school play so people will see his vision of the holiday. He soon becomes rather obsessed with the project, causing him to lose sleep, alienates those around him, becomes a bit of “fatcat” and in the end faces an absurd charge of racism from the school staff regarding his wish to cast Jesus as black (But he is from the Middle East, Huey points out to no avail). Meanwhile, his younger troublemaking brother Riley terrorizes Mall Santa’s, as well as their neighbor Jazmine who is a devout Santa worshipper (confusing the story of Jesus with Santa’s to hilarious effect in the episode).
The episode has very sad moments, but surprisingly has quite happy and side-splittingly funny moments as well. The beginning features Jazmine having a dream of preaching the word of Santa in a gospel church, which is cute in its portrayal of childlike innocence and confusion and makes a mocking comment on fairy tales told to children. Huey’s idealism butts heads with the adult world he lives in rather roughly, but he strongly stands his ground, as his character often does in the show. It is always inspiring to watch. Robert, Huey’s and Riley’s grandfather, is shown in a rare tender moment in the episode when he tenderly carries the sleeping Huey to bed, which is a mere second long scene in the show, but still summons a “aw” from the audience. Over all, it is also honest in its portrayal of how life doesn’t always work out as we would like it to. (However, most of the characters get a happy ending, especially one of Huey’s nicer teacher’s who attempts to embrace, though a bit naively, tolerance and multiculturalism).

“A Very Special Family Guy Freakin´ Christmas” from “Family Guy” – The plot of this episode centers on the Griffith family getting ready for the Holiday, with the mother Lois doing most of the work. Peter, her husband, is not helping out much and causes disaster after disaster. Lois tries to be reasonable and level headed, but, finally, after only wanting to clean up one of the disasters thrown at her, and realizing she has no paper towels to help her grapple with the mess, Lois experiences the ultimate meltdown in one of the best freak-outs ever animated.
This episode is a pretty goofy and over the top but is a spot on depiction of all the stress and disasters Christmases, and the holidays, can sometimes contain. Poor Lois truly puts everything into these two special days (which she thinks is a time of good cheer and union), trying to make things joyous even when they take a turn for the very worst. the episode is hilarious, while addressing how unfairly all the responsibility was given to Lois to handle. This makes the ending, where things turn out for the worst for Lois but good for the rest of the family, quite bittersweet. While I do think “Family Guy” as a show can be pretty bad at times (The Series started strong n the first three seasons, but has taken a bit of a dive since), this episode is still very good and pretty unusual with it’s not quite jolly ending.

The Stress Got to Lois

“How the Grinch stole Christmas!” (1966) – This is one of the most famous short animated films ever to be made. Based on a book by Dr. Seuss, the short is directed by Chuck Jones (and animated in the classic Chuck Jones style!) and Ben Washam, as well as the entire script being read by Boris Karloff. Karloff’s voice is capturing, as well as the rhymes and lines used in the story being memorable. There’s also the main characters theme song, “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” which is an classic and iconic “the Villain Sucks” song.
The Story centers on the tale of the Grinch, a green creature who lives up in the mountains alone. He dislikes everything about Christmas, and therefore comes up with the plan to steal Christmas from the “Who’s down in “Whoville”. This short is referenced a lot in other Christmas specials, so if you haven’t seen this special yet, you should for the “education” (for instance, it is referenced in episodes of the Simpsons, PJ’s, South Park, and on and on).

“Woodland Critter Christmas” from “South Park” – Absurdity and winter wonder has never been mixed as magnificently as in this South Park episode! Stan, one of the four young protagonists in the series, comes across a group of cliché-like cute talking animals and gets dragged into helping them with various tasks after the female porcupine becomes pregnant despite being a virgin. The animals tell Stan that their savior is on the way. However, he must kill a mountain lion that is known to eat their savior. Stan does so, only to realize that the pregnant porcupine is not pregnant with a seed from god, but from Satan, thus making it possible for the anti-Christ to be born…
“South Park” has made a lot of great Christmas episodes, this being perhaps the funniest one. Stan’s reaction to everything happening around him is great, the twist at the near end of the episode is pretty surprising and it is packed with rich jokes. It’s also a fun deconstruction of cuteness, making the sweet cuddly Disneyesque animals malevolence and demonic wouldbe destroyers of the world. And one shouldn’t miss out on how the day is saved at the end of the episode. Just a pure enjoyable Christmas special.

So there are my favorite animated shorts with the upcoming holiday’s theme. Hope you all have a nice Christmas/Holiday Season which is upon us!

And lastly here are a couple honorable mentions of Christmas/Holiday Specials which you should see when the chance arises:

“Marge Be Not Proud” (The Simpsons) – A beautiful, beautiful depiction of Mother-Son relationships during the holiday.

“Red Sleigh Down” (South Park) – Camp, camp and more excellent camp all the way through!

Cartoons used to be just for kids, but in wake of Matt Groening’s landmark creation of “The Simpsons”, cartoons took an interesting twist: some cartoons came to be made solely for the adult audience. Since the popular recognition of the Simpsons cartoons as broadcast series have gone thought the gambit of issues from raunchy political incorrectness to slice-of-life portrayals of “the common people” and their families.

Yet what is of most intriguing issue to me, is when these series tackle the questions of gender, the place and oppressions of women, or just begun to look at the issues or questions of rights which circulate around the feminist complex.

In this post I will discuss some of my favorite cartoons episodes that (may) be feminist.

“Lisa Vs. Malibu Stacy” from “The Simpsons” (aired 1994) – Let’s start with a real classic, shall we? This is one of the very, very few episodes from “The Simpsons” which deals with gender, as well as one of the few which actually raises feminist issues. It starts with Lisa, the 8 year old daughter in the Simpson family, buying the newest talking Malibu Stacy doll (a fictional satirical doll based on “Barbie”). Excited, the young girl “gathers” all her other dolls to hear the astonishing first words of the talking Malibu Stacy… only to hear the doll say, “I wish they taught shopping in school”, followed by the doll claiming one should not ask her anything, she’s “just a girl”.

Lisa, disgusted at the sexist and demeaning message of her new doll, devotes herself to stop the production of such dolls. She visits the company to express her feelings, explicitly states to her friends that the things Malibu Stacy says are sexist, and tracks down the inventor of the original doll, Stacy Lowell (Voiced by the great Kathleen Turner). Together with Stacy, Lisa starts to make her own talking doll, hoping to make a more feminist toy for girls. The episode was a direct critic of Mattel’s Teen Talk Barbie, a toy that appeared in the 90’s, which was criticized for enforcing shameful stereotypes of women. However, “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy” can also be seen as an attack on dolls that are marketed to little girls on a whole. As Lisa points out in the episode, girls learn through such toys to be shallow and center their lives around looking pretty and landing a man. Lisa bravely fights for change, demanding a better role model for girls, advocating for women’s right and hoping to teach young girls to be more than empty vessels.

“Breast Cancer Show Ever” from “South Park” (aired 2008) – This episode is entirely about female empowerment, pure and simple. The plot centers 9-year old Wendy, who attempts to raise awareness of Breast Cancer by doing a presentation on the subject in class. She is rudely mocked and interrupted by her classmate Eric Cartman’s* sexist and taunting remarks. Wendy enraged by the callousness of Cartman to the plight of this disease (and its victims) challenges him to fight. This episode is a remarkable depiction of a strong girl standing up against, and calling out, sexism. Cartman is portrayed in this episode as a typical sexist bully: he acts tough and is a loud-mouth, but in actuality is a coward. Wendy is also shown to be quite alone in her battle against Cartman, with little sympathy from her parents (mostly due to Cartmans manipulation). But near the end, there is one adult woman who encourages Wendy to fight the “cancer”, giving a rarely shown positive portrayal of women supporting each other. Even in the fictional world of South Park, Sisterhood is powerful!

“The Story of Catcher Freeman” from “The Boondocks” (aired 2008) – I’ll be honest, this show wasn’t always positive in its portrayal of women. But this episode is one of the most critical attacks against male centrism and patriarchy that has been seen in recent years in Adult animations. The episode is a recounting of a tale from the family-tree about a “slave who struggles and fights” for Freedom. The story of Catcher Freeman takes place during 19 century, when slavery was in full play below the Mason-Dixon line and the protagonist of the tale is attempting to slip the bonds of slavery (or not?). While the tales spun by the ancestors to the “hero” describe Catcher as a strong, avenger of the wronged who is determined to the task of freeing all of his brothers-in- bondage (and who is recounted, at times, as being a animalistic hunter with super powers) the truth turns out to be that Thelma, the famous love interest of Catcher, was the real hero.
Thelma all by herself found the strength to fight back against the white slave owners after trying to escape. She kills two men who attempted to rape her, and in a final leap of courage and honor, returns to the plantation (she originally escaped from) to organize a rebellion among her brethrens to oppose the oppressors and she, ultimately, leads them in battle to freedom. Thelma is strong, smart and a highly skilled fighter. Yet even if she is the true hero, the male centric world, where men are the ones who dominate the dialogue of history, choose to portray Catcher as the hero, which is far from the truth and it unfairly excludes the women from history as well as the present day and the contemporary context.
I have written a longer post on the depiction of women in “The Boondocks”, which you can read here.

Cathcher Freeman, the fictional version

“Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset” from “South Park” (aired 2008) – This episode was produced when Paris Hilton was constantly in headlines and was a new idol to some young women. In this episode, Paris Hilton arrives in South Park, causing all the girls to become crazed with the idea of mindless shopping and pointless partying. Wendy is at first appalled at the girl’s behavior, believing they’re purposely killing their brains, but due to peer pressure goes to the notoriously masochistic gay man, as well as her teachers lover, Mr. Slave for advice. “Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset” has a bit of a nasty title, but the episode is an interesting critic of how society favors mean-spirited and shallow women, ignoring the intellectuals, as Wendy in the episode articulates. The writers of the episode show a concern that young women are given terrible role models who do nothing but party and rely on men to “buy them things”, while actually ambitious women are viewed as strange. Parker and Stone made clear in the episode that accomplishment, struggling with thought and self-awareness are to be considered the important, something which is ultimately devalued in our commodity and idol driven culture.

“A Leela Of Her Own” from “Futurama” (aired 2002) – Honestly, it’s hard to tell whether this episode is feminist or not. So I’ll just explain why I think it’s feminist.
The episode centers Leela, who after being spotted by a sports agent gets signed on to play Blurnsball, a fictional future sport similar to baseball. Leela is excited about being the first woman to play Blurnsball on a professional team, ignoring how she obviously got the job mostly for her utter lack of talent in the sport. She is used to make people laugh, since she always hits a person in the head with her bat instead of hitting the ball. As Leela grows in popularity, she comes to believe that she’s pioneer for women in sports, but Jackie Andersson, a female star in a college Blernsball team, approaches Leela to tell her she’s actually making it harder for female athletes, since Leela’s incompetence causes more sexism in the sports community. Leela is crushed by Jackie’s words and goes about, with a sudden insight into her position in the sport, trying to approve her skills. “A Leela of Her Own” deals with the fact that there are still a lot of communities where women are seen as inferior to men and it is considered a triumph if a woman, any woman, rises to the top of a field where men hold dominance.
However, it is not always that simple: what if that woman actually makes it even harder for women to join the overly male centric clubs?
Even if it is unfair that people group all women into one category – like people do with Leela and other female blurnsball players – it’s important to discuss whether some women actually reinforce certain stereotypes of women, such as them being dumb or weak, in fields where they are already highly discriminated against. (By the way- the episodes title is a reference to Penny Marshall’s awesome movie “A League of Their Own”, which centered the first professional Baseball League in the US. Worth checking out!)

Here where my personal favorite episodes with feminist themes. Hope you enjoyed my post!

*Eric Cartman often is the embodiment of the “incorrect”, mean-spirited, capitalistic (in the pure-greed sense), immoral, prejudiced, and un-self reflective person in the South Park meta-narrative (through all of the whole series)