You know what takes me right out of a movie or TV show or even a commercial? When someone tries to sell me something. I know the whole point of a commercial IS to sell me something. BUT you can’t argue that the best ones are the ones in which you were so moved that you forgot you were watching a commercial.

In contrast, most movies and TV shows aren’t trying to sell you on something except the movie or show itself. But to have gotten to the point of either playing at a theatre or airing on your television (laptop, smart phone, holographic projective implant), they’ve had to sell themselves to financiers. And those financiers make requests for their product to be featured on screen. This isn’t news. It’s product placement. We’ve all heard of it. We know it exists. We recognize when we see it. The point is: audiences aren’t stupid. So it’d be wonderful is we weren’t treated like we were.

Financiers, please STOP making actors hold your product in ways so that the audience can clearly read the name of your product. The reality? We’re not looking at your product. We’re looking at the weird disjointed alien claw that holds your product while we think, “no one would ever hold a burger (pack of gum, coffee cup, phone) like that!”

Are you afraid we won’t recognize the iconic red can with the cursive white writing unless we actually see the whole name? Or does being on two corners of every intersection make the store with the green and white mermaid logo not ubiquitous enough? So you make Sandra Bullock awkwardly turn your logo to camera. And now the actor is trying to rationalize why her character would love tall nonfat white mochas (270 cals) and yet still meet Hollywood’s standard body size. She’s not in the moment. I’m not in the moment. And I’m definitely not all of a sudden hankering for $5 coffee. The fact that I am about to order something from said establishment has everything to do with the fact that I am cliché incarnate and I write in one.  Nothing, I repeat nothing at all, to do with the fact that Sandra makes them look oh so fuckin’ good. But seriously, I love her and I’d buy whatever she’s selling, weird disjointed alien claw or no.

 

 

I recently avoided falling victim to the “pink tax.” Never heard of it? It’s when an item for a woman is more expensive than the same item for a man. The culprit? Payless Shoes. Like many creatives, I daylight in the service industry. One must? Non-slip shoes. Spills, dirt, snow, crackers a parent brought for their two-year-old which their two-year-old felt belonged on the floor (sometimes they actually improve the look of the otherwise tacky flooring, but I disgress). Mostly it’s the dish pit: often a nightmarish lake similar to the bog of eternal stench from Labyrinth except without the comical fart sounds and pirate fox riding a dog.

I had overextended the 4-6 month shelf-life of my then current shoes because I just didn’t want to invest money into something that wasn’t writing. Sadly, the feeling of dish pit scrap stew seeping into a hole then soaking my sock was enough to send me running to the store.

So there I was, staring at the wall of options for ladies. There were sneakers of many kinds, oxfords, converse, boots, heels, and flats. No shortage of options BUT upon looking at the prices, I found myself frustrated. They had gone up! And having worked in this industry for a long time, I know that there have been NO advancements in the world of non-slips that could warrant such a price hike. So WTF?

To the men’s section I went. And I wish I could say my jaw dropped, but what actually happened was an audible, “of course.” The same exact style was $10 cheaper in the men’s section. I grabbed my size (8 in men’s) and ran back downstairs to confirm with the women’s shoe that they were in fact the same. And yes. There was a slight difference in the width of the toe area, but otherwise the same. So why the price difference? Especially when typically women’s shoes of the same style require less material as women’s feet run smaller?

I really don’t know. But what I do know is that it shouldn’t be called “pink tax.” Pink tax is too polite for this form of prejudice. Can we please stop shrouding sexism and gender inequality in cute pastel colours? It should be called “no dick tax.” As in if you don’t have a dick, so you have to pay a tax. It gets right to meat of the issue by saying women are without and that’s why we pay more.

I bought the men’s shoes. And boy oh boy, did they ever get rave reviews:

“Those shoes are the ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen.”
– Single White Male Coworker

“You know Becca, I can get behind your gender-bending style, the suits, the hats, suspenders, I’m into it. It’s sexy. But those shoes do not make me want to fuck you.”
– Different Single White Male Coworker

Instead of crying myself to sleep after failing at my only objective in life, I came up with an idea for a new tax. I propose a “no vagina tax” wherein every time a man thinks he has the right to comment on a woman’s body or how a woman chooses to dress her body, he has to pay a fine. As in you don’t have a vagina and because of that you say and do wildly inappropriate things, so you have to pay a tax. And we can then use that money to support victims of sexual assault. Now there’s a tax I think we can all get behind! #novaginatax

“I love your androgynous style.” This is something I have been told on more than one occasion. And I am happy to use hashtags like “genderbender” when posting pics of myself in a suit because I realize suits for women aren’t the quote-unquote norm for a fancy occasion. When people think red carpet women, they immediately picture a dress. I, however, more often than think pant suit. It’s not a comfort thing. I love dresses and have many comfortable ones. It’s not a statement about my sexuality, my gender, or me taking a stand against how women are treated on red carpets. Though they are often treated like a mannequin with no talent beyond wearing a designer dress, but I digress. For me, it’s as simple as this: I feel sexy in a suit. And powerful. And clean. And head-turning. I do it for me, because that day, I want to wear a suit so I’m gonna to wear a fuckin’ suit.

And I know you have the best intentions when you tell me I’m “androgynous.” But effectively what you are doing is robbing me of my femininity. The suit does not do this. You do this. You and your ideas of the suit. Your ideas of fashion. Your ideas of what you feel welcome to comment on. My “genderbender” is mine. And you commenting on it is for one: unsurprising, but more importantly: unwanted.

Confused about where to go in this “new” politically correct world? Let me help. Consider noting the feeling evoked by the look that the person has thrown together. “You look commanding.” “I love your presence in this outfit.” “You look radiant, powerful, unstoppable.” Or perhaps the person looks delicate, full of grace, classical, poised, fierce, inspirational, mysterious, confident. Trust me: if you cut through the outfit itself and opt for what is inside instead, I guarantee that that person will remember that compliment over the thousand other “you look beautifuls.” And they will definitely appreciate it more than “I love your androgynous style.”

Ingredients:

1 cup English Breakfast Tea with unlimited hot water top-ups to stay caffeinated
20 oz of Water in enviro-friendly water bottle that sends the message that you are a nerdy, strong feminist – pretentious peacocking
1 Bic Pen
1 Notebook with quote that makes you feel equal parts generic and accountable
1 Coffee Shop that has private restrooms because all that caffeine is going to go RIGHT through you
1 set of Headphones because the coffee shop playlist has too many recognizable songs that distract you from writing

Substitutions:

1. Substitute the Tea for Coffee

2. Substitute the Notebook and Pen for a Laptop (Note: this may result in decreased productivity due to: (1) lack of generic and yet TRULY inspirational quote, and (2) easy access to distractions like social media and online shopping carts. Both can lead to an underbaked script).

3. Substitute the Coffee Shop for Park Bench, Library, Subway, Home Office (Note: Home
office may have increased distractions like cats, laundry, and/or a bookcase that totally needs reorganizing this second because who could get any writing done with the chaos that is THAT shelf?! This may also lead to a Pinterest board full of other beautifully baked scripts and an accompanied self-loathing due to how much of a stupid procrastinating shitty script baker you truly are).

4. Remove Headphones all together. (Note: Be wary of uninvited conversations from other coffee shop (or library or subway) goers that may cause an allergic reaction resulting in red face, rapid heartbeat, twitchy eye, and an urge to shout at a stranger
because SERIOUSLY, don’t they know you’re writing the script that is FINALLY going to let the world see how amazing you are and that you’re the writer Hollywood has been waiting for and this script of yours will probably also cure world hunger and save the planet and that their trivial conversations about how their husband just doesn’t get that women prefer romance over porn IS LITERALLY KILLING THE FUCKIN’ PLANET!?!

Directions:

Mix all ingredients.
Repeat everyday until the script is done. Then re-bake script starting from the very beginning over and OVER until you’re certain it can’t be baked any longer.

Congratulations! You’ve just baked a First Draft.

Bake time: ~3 months to 3+ years… with no assurance it will actually ever taste good.