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Op-ed: Why We Need Entertainment By and For Women - Like Rods and Cones

Op-ed: Why We Need Entertainment By and For Women - Like Rods and Cones

Op-ed: Why We Need Entertainment By and For Women - Like Rods and Cones

Women are occupying a larger space in the pop culture pie, but we're not there yet!

I recently directed and produced Rods and Cones, a comedy webseries with Steakhaus Productions. We are thrilled to be releasing the series through Wifey.TV, a feminist content website helmed by Jill Soloway and Rebecca Odes (the team behind the highly anticipated Transparent from Amazon.com!) The show is based on Carole Murphy and Mitzi Fitzsimmons, characters created by Beth Lisick and Tara Jepsen. Carole and Mitzi are best described by Kira Garcia in her articlefor The Hairpin:

“Carole and Mitzi are codependent platonic life partners, bath house custodians, and terrible dressers who inhabit a gleeful, carefree limbo that is somehow both geriatric and adolescent. Their reliably hilarious misadventures remind us that there’s something inherently weird about womanhood.”

I have spent my whole life observing Hollywood and the code of conduct it provides for its audience, the people it is apparently based on. It’s a codependent relationship, a manipulative and manipulated two-way mirror. I am always thinking about this feedback loop. Comedy is the one kind of mainstream filmmaking that can address this call and response between audience and screen by irreverently pointing out the venerable cinematic tropes and old-saw cliches much of entertainment media leans on. Jepsen’s and Lisick’s characters Carole and Mitzi hold fascination for me because they’re using the format of the “comedy routine” to work out their own driving impulse towards performance, success, and even “stardom.” The result is painfully human, familiar and hilarious. Working with characters that willfully fall so far outside the normal range of mediated femininity is totally life affirming. These aren’t your typical limited portrayals of women as mommies, maidens, madams and muses.

Thankfully this is a new and open time for television. With the success of shows like 30 Rock, Girls, Orange Is the New Black, Nurse Jackie, Enlightened, Weeds, Broad City, and Transparent, we’re finally seeing fully realized female characters with messy feelings and normal bodies. They do the full range of things that we do in real life and represent the entire vast spectrum of the gender from Transwomen to butch dykes and everyone in between. It’s fun to see that, it’s refreshing to laugh along with something that’s recognizable from my own life.

The internet and crowdfunding allow for unusual suspects to contribute to this new landscape of stories. Being able to watch and release shows on different platforms radically expands the potential audience, and continues to burn off the old restrictions set by conservative studios and networks. And it’s exciting to be able to contribute to this new pantheon.

So: Women! Wimmin, Lady-Weemoons!  Ladies, Girls, Gals, Birds, Broads, Bitches both Bad and Basic! I call you by all the names of your gender, should you claim it as your own! Womyn, Dickless and be-dicked, come one, come all!  I don’t know about you but I am ready to see my televised avatars graduate from Ladies to Human Beings!

Watch Rods and Cones on Wifey.tv.

Laurel Frank is an artist and filmmaker who works in sculpture and video, Laurel is also an art director and production designer for feature films. Laurel’s art work has been shown at Commonwealth and Council, LAXART, The One Archive, Artist Curated Projects and For Your Art Gallery and many others.  Her Hollywood art department work has shown in numerous international film festivals including Sundance, South by Southwest, LAFF, Frameline and Outfest. Laurel holds an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. Rods and Cones marks her narrative directorial debut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Laurel Frank