Tag: Jen

Carolina reviews We Play Ourselves by Jen Silverman – The Lesbrary

Susan reviews The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia

We Play Ourselves by Jen Silverman

Jen Silverman’s debut, We Play Ourselves, satirizes the contemporary art scene through the eyes of Cass, an embittered former drama wunderkind turned hapless millennial, as she uncovers the secrets behind an up-and-coming feminist documentary. However, behind that beautiful cover and biting wit, We Play Ourselves fails to balance criticism and nuance, and falls prey to the very structures that it pokes fun at.

After being #cancelled in the fray of a viral scandal and Off-Broadway flop, 30-something playwright Cass retreats to the sleepy suburbs of LA to stay with her friend and his on-the-rocks boyfriend. After a listless lull at the house, Cass is approached by a prominent filmmaker, Caroline, whose new project, a subversive, feminist Fight Club starring a feral pack of teenage girls, draws Cass in. After meeting the cast and starting the project, Cass begins to recognize that Caroline’s draw towards these girls crosses the line between muse and manipulator, and must reckon with her place at the heart of an exploitative art piece.

Silverman is an incredibly talented author, whose word choice is always sharp and necessary, and whose sentences string together in poignant prose. She brilliantly constructs the mindset of someone trying to rebuild themselves once they’re stripped to their most vulnerable state. Cass is an unlikable narrator: she’s catty, unempathetic and pretentious. However, your eyes are glued to her every move, and hungry for her backstory. I also found Silverman’s comparison of the limitations of artistic mediums incredibly interesting: theatre is a completely different animal than film, as this juxtaposition is made clear by the alternative perspectives in New York and Los Angeles.

We Play Ourselves takes major media buzzwords, and cultural revolutions, such as the MeToo Movement, conversations of media inclusion and representation and cancel culture, and breaks them down to their core through her sardonic wit. However, this satire can be read as tokenizing or dismissive to real life issues. For example, Cass’s nemesis, Tara-Jean Slater, is a self-proclaimed “turned asexual” after being assaulted by her uncle as a child, who then channels her trauma in a best-selling play and up-coming Netflix show, starring Cate Blanchett and Morgan Freeman as different iterations of her uncle. It’s quite obvious that Silverman is poking fun of the use of big celebrity names to sell products, but it instead comes across as acephobic and ignorant of the real trauma and mental health issues faced by CSA survivors, as Cass is “jealous” of Tara’s “selling point” as a CSA survivor.

This facetiousness is present throught the novel: Silverman pokes fun at tokenism by criticizing Caroline’s “diverse” film with only two non-white leads, but is guilty of the same crime, as no other non-white characters are present in the narrative. Caroline also fetishizes queer women, as she forces BB, the lesbian teenage girl, to fake a coming out to Cass, the only queer person on the film set, in order to garner attention from LGBT movie audiences. However, BB and Cass’s relationship is awkward and forced, contrived by BB’s crush on Cass, and the uncomfortable age gap between the two characters. The film storyline is extremely fraught with these problematic elements, and does little to reckon with them: I much preferred the New York theatre scenes to the Los Angeles film scenes, and would have preferred a narrative without the film aspect. We Play Ourselves is a narrative journey through the lens of a disillusioned young adult in the pretentious art scene, but does little to critique the issues at its core.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy

Warnings: homophobia, substance abuse, cheating, violence, racism, sexual assault, child abuse, disordered eating

Jen Psaki tells Fox reporter ‘trans rights are human rights’

Joe Biden's press secretary Jen Psaki responded to claims LGBT+ rights will harm women.

Joe Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki responded to claims LGBT+ rights will harm women. (Getty/Alex Wong)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has shut down suggestions that enforcing LGBT+ non-discrimination protections will lead to trans athletes taking over women’s sports.

The issue was raised at the White House press briefing on Tuesday (9 February), with a reporter appearing to parrot claims made by conservatives suggesting that Biden’s executive non-discrimination order will disrupt high school sports.

Fox News Radio reporter Rachel Sutherland asked: “What message would the White House have for trans girls and cis girls who may end up competing against each other, in sparking some lawsuits and some concern among parents?

“Does the administration have guidance for schools on dealing with disputes arising over trans girls competing with cis girls?”

Jen Psaki makes clear ‘trans rights are human rights’.

Psaki curtly made clear: “I would just say that the president’s belief is that trans rights are human rights, and that’s why he signed that executive order.

“In terms of determinations by universities and colleges, I certainly defer to them.”

Republicans pushing anti-transgender legislation across the US have recently sought to shift the narrative from bathrooms and locker rooms to sports provisions, as lawmakers seek to establish a legal right to discriminate against trans kids in a number of states.

The tactic bears little reflection on reality, where there are close to zero examples of trans women who have achieved significant prowess in women’s sports.

In the eight Olympics in which trans women have been eligible to compete as women, they have won a total of zero gold medals, zero silver medals, and zero bronze medals.

Biden’s stance that children should not be “denied access” to “school sports” is a reversal of the Trump administration stance, with the Trump-era Department of Education accused of effectively extorting schools into implementing policies discriminating against trans children.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki
White House press secretary Jen Psaki (Getty/Alex Wong)

Former Trump officials have launched attacks over trans issues.

Donald Trump’s former UN ambassador Nikki Haley is among those to launch attacks on the Biden administration over the issue.

Writing for the National Review, she claimed: “In one of his first acts as president, he signed an executive order paving the way for a federal mandate that all schools receiving federal funding let biological men play on women’s sports teams.

“The order was framed as a matter of transgender rights. But really, it was an attack on women’s rights.”

She continued: “If this trend isn’t stopped, the achievements of so many brave women over so many years will be erased. That’s wrong. It’s insulting. And women know it, too… [but] they’re just afraid to speak out, because they know they’ll be silenced and called bigots.”

Silence of the Lambs show Clarice casts transgender activist Jen Richards

Trans actor Jen Richards in front of a blue background at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival

Jen Richards of ‘Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen’ attends the IMDb Studio at Acura Festival Village on location at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on 27 January 2020 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)

CBS’ Silence of the Lambs adaptation Clarice has cast transgender actor, writer and activist Jen Richards to play a character who will discuss the “complicated legacy” of Buffalo Bill. 

Richards will portray a transgender woman who talks with the titular character about Buffalo Bill, a serial killer who appeared in the 1991 Silence of the Lambs film. 

The producers of the Silence of the Lambs TV adaptation said Richards was first recommended by GLAAD’s director of transgender representation Nick Adams to consult on the show, but now she will also appear on the screen.

During a virtual premiere event for Clarice on Monday (1 February), Richards said her character intersects with Clarice and explains Buffalo Bill’s legacy.

“All I can say is that the character intersects with Clarice’s storyline in a way that her trans-ness isn’t central to her storyline, but her identity as a transgender woman prompts her to discuss with Clarice the complicated legacy of Buffalo Bill,” Richards said.

She initially thought she would help the writers and producers “craft the character and make sure some younger, prettier trans actress had a good experience on set”. But then she ended up cast in the role itself. 

Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs.
Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. (Orion)

Silence of the Lambs‘ Buffalo Bill left a scar on the trans community

Richards said she was interested in creating discussions about Buffalo Bill, who was played by Ted Levine in the film, specifically because of how he had been a negative representation for the transgender community. 

Jame Gumb, known as “Buffalo Bill”, is a serial killer who murders overweight women and skins them so he can make a “woman suit” for himself. Both the film and novel of the same name depict Gumb as having signs of gender dysphoria. Gumb wants to become a woman and created a “woman suit” for himself to complete his “transformation”. 

Though, it’s never explicit in the novel or book that Gumb is transgender. 

“Right prior to my coming out as trans, I started to delicately tell a few friends and colleagues I was thinking about transitioning,” Richards said. “Kind of treading water to see if I could do it successfully, and one looked at me and said, ‘Do you mean like Buffalo Bill?’”

Richards said she was “crestfallen” that this woman had “no other image to counter” what trans-ness was, just this “incredibly monstrous person who literally steals the female form and tries to embody it”.

“It was really complicated to try and overcome that first perception of other people,” she said.

Not reducing trans character into a stereotype

Richards said she was thrilled that Clarice’s writing team wanted to “address the complicated, horrible legacy in a way that didn’t reduce it to that one issue” and feature a “trans character that was part of the story but didn’t reduce it to a stereotype”.

The series takes place a year after FBI agent Clarice Starling, played by Rebecca Breeds, caught Buffalo Bill. Starling then has to deal with the trauma in the wake of the complicated case and encountering cannibal Hannibal Lector. 

Clarice also stars Kal Penn, Nick Shadow, Lucca de Oliveira and Michael Cudlitz. It will debut on 11 February.

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Jen Richards Sure Is a Wife Now! (Congrats Jen, We Love You!)

Jen Richards Sure Is a Wife Now! (Congrats Jen, We

Hello and welcome to No Filter! This is the place where I round up all the best gossip from Celesbian Instagram and then place them here for you! How lovely.

Here is the thing, I just straight up love clothes? And people feeling good in them?

The Wife (2017)

… this is a weird way of saying I would like Chef Melissa to be my wife while referencing the movie that bravely asked: What if there was a wife?

Highlighting your hair??? From home????? And it looks this good? Witchcraft. That’s what it is.

I simply continue to stan my aunties living out this Christmas car commercial!

Do you think George Clooney saw this and thanked her for the support? I hope so.

Not to make another The Wife (2017) reference but… what if there were two wives?

LOVE this hair and this cool ass grown up pajama set.

Love the picture, love the pun, love it all.

Until next week!

Jen Richards Promises That Her Engagement Isn’t a Lex Ad

Jen Richards Promises That Her Engagement Isn't a Lex Ad

This is a LOOONG ONE! So let me get of of the way quickly!

Love you. Drink your water and Keep fighting.

Queer as in F*ck You

Jen Richards wants you to know her engagement wasn’t sponsored by Lex, but also? To quote Abeni: “it’s very gay and love is real” (And I want to add, if you’ve ever wanted to shoot your shot, if it can work for a Hollywood bi-con like Jen, it can work for you too!)

From Samantha Irby: “Why didn’t the person at the county clerk’s office warn me that my bride-to-be and I needed to have similar views on condiment storage before we signed our names on the certificate?” To Love, Honor, and Share Fridge Space

I don’t know if you saw this boss b*tch (Kristin Urquiza) do her thing last night at the Democratic National Convention:

But ughhh, guess what??  She’s GAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

Remember last week when we talked about how adorable and sweet Holland Taylor is? Well we have more!! A little birdie dropped a note in my inbox this morning that Holland was a guest on the podcast LGBTQ&A and as a long time fan of that podcast, I feel confident saying the interview is you’ll enjoy and hear all kinds of new gay things (like when Holland literally says “I’m Gay” in that amazing smokey voice of hers, as just one example)

Rachel recommends this webinar and I recommend anything Rachel says because damn she’s smart as fuck: The TERF Industrial Complex: Transphobia, Feminism and Race

Saw This, Thought of You

Dolly Parton Steers Her Empire Through the Pandemic — and Keeps It Growing. The interview that gave already gave such ICONIC quotables as:

“There’s such a thing as innocent ignorance, and so many of us are guilty of that,” she says now. “When they said ‘Dixie’ was an offensive word, I thought, ‘Well, I don’t want to offend anybody. This is a business. We’ll just call it The Stampede.’ As soon as you realize that [something] is a problem, you should fix it. Don’t be a dumbass. That’s where my heart is. I would never dream of hurting anybody on purpose.”


“Of course Black Lives Matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? NO!”

August Blues Are Like Sunday Blues, But for a Full Month. Listen. This take is not wrong.

Another podcast! What a week for podcasts! Kerry Washington & Gabrielle Union talk Black Motherhood with the Black History Year podcast from PushBlack. This includes Gabrielle Union discussing mothering her trans step-daughter Zaya Wade and it was so gripping!! I stopped reading my book and listened to every word.

Michigan’s ‘Tampon Tax’ Challenged in New Lawsuit. I live in Michigan and I approve.

Who Gets to Go outside during a Pandemic? The belief that “Certain People” are ruining the outdoors has been a prevalent idea for a very long time, especially among white people.

When Trump Calls a Black Woman ‘Angry,’ He Feeds This Racist Trope. The Cheeto’s use of the word to describe Joe Biden’s vice-presidential pick, Kamala Harris, plays off a violent stereotype with a century-long history. It’s not a dog whistle. It’s a siren. Call it out.

You Still Need A Vacation. Yes, Even Now. YES, YOU!

Political Snacks

Today is 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave “women” the right to vote. Though I’ve never much paid attention because as a Black Puerto Rican woman, it sure as hell didn’t cover my ass. Which is why I very much appreciated this take from Iris King at Zora: A Non-Whitewashed History of the 19th Amendment and Women’s Right to Vote

Cardi B and Joe Biden Talk the State of Our Nation. I know that some of you will see the headline and jump to make an obvious joke, but seriously — Cardi’s political analysis often comes through in a big way. I haven’t read this interview yet, but I definitely wouldn’t make assumptions.

And in other “musicians are talking about politics now” news: Fiona Apple on the Election, What Scares Her, and Her Anti-ICE Short Film

“What Democrats — or more broadly, an American left — have in front of them is a wave of new (or in some cases newly revivified) ideas, from the Green New Deal to Medicare for All, from a wealth tax and baby bonds to defunding the police and making college and day care free, abolishing ICE, decriminalizing border crossings, reforming the courts, abolishing the filibuster, and reimagining care work as part of the federal infrastructure.

But the big voices pushing for new solutions aren’t being elevated by the party they’re actually trying to push into a future they want to make more just, more inclusive, and more functional than America’s unequal past and present.

And while it’s not likely the DNC will be must-see TV in the midst of a pandemic and economic crisis, with the least popular and most horrifying president of my lifetime, it could have been compelling, could have been different, could have offered promise — for something new, something changing, something different, something better.

Instead, Democrats have decided to host a convention that feels like the ‘This is fine’ meme in which the Democrats are the dog, and the rooms they will be speaking from are on fire.”

As the Democratic National Convention continues to loom large this week, some thoughts to keep in our minds about who’s not being welcome on the stage. AKA: REBECCA TRAISTER SAID WHAT TF SHE HAD TO SAY! (And a small update, that in no way changes what’s above: “Instead of giving the 2020 keynote to one person, the Democratic convention has decided to split it up among 17 of the party’s ‘rising stars.’ Seven of the speakers will be women. Five are women of color.”)

“We are watching an authoritarian in action before our eyes. And we haven’t woken up to the significance of what we are seeing.”  Just How Far Will Trump Go?

And to that end, in case you missed it, here are Michelle Obama’s complete remarks from last night’s opening of the DNC. I don’t know what to say… it was perfect. She’s perfect. And that’s that on that.

“If you take one thing from my words tonight, it is this: if you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can.”

(And here’s a full transcript. And here’s some analysis.)