It’s been a long, long while since I shared with you one of the far-too-many links I’ve bookmarked to my web browser. And I’ve been meaning to start sharing them with you here. But then I realized that the “Watch Later” list on my YouTube account also has its own big boatload of interesting links… including the video I’m sharing with you in this post.
That’s right, I said “crap” in the title! And, yes, I’m gonna do some ranting. Let’s face it, “crap” is what Hallmark Channel gives us every holiday season with their Countdown to Christmas series, and it’s the type of crap that has been ripe for parody. Need proof? Well, let me present you as “Exhibit A” this skit from last night’s (December 14) Saturday Night Live featuring guest host Scarlett Johansson.
A couple of years ago, I had some fun (as did Saturday Night Live) at Hallmark Channel’s expense. It’s December if you haven’t noticed, meaning that network is now two months into their Countdown to Christmas movie extravaganza. And while the movie titles number in the several dozen (perhaps several hundred?), the whole block is the same old same-old: Charming setting, festive decorations everywhere, handsome male lead makes cute with pretty female lead… and little to no LGBT+ representation.
But if for one brief, shining moment, the thought of a slight change in that Countdown to Christmas formula was raised: Hallmark Channel CEO Bill Abbott, in a podcast talk with The Hollywood Reporter last month, indicated that the network was open to producing holiday movies with gay lead characters. Abbott’s passing statement resulted from the podcast’s hosts/interviewers challenging Abbott over Hallmark’s prioritizing content for a broad audience ahead of those that reflect the unique aspects of American society. Separately, Michelle Vicary, who heads the Hallmark-owned studio that produces these films for the network, indicated that they were “looking at pitches” for movies with LGBT+ characters.
This post and the one that will follow are in relation to a couple of holiday-related TV tidbits I’ve talked up in the past. That next one will be about something that likely won’t leave the airwaves any time soon. This one, however, is about one that has.
You probably recall this photo from a post I wrote at this time last year. The image was from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which was first staged in the mid-1990s and used to be a prominent part of CBS’ holiday schedule. Last year’s show, which aired on ABC, was marred by pre-air controversy thanks to a Vogue interview with Ed Razek, chief marketing officer of L Brands (Victoria’s Secret’s parent company), and Monica Mitro, VS’ executive VP of public relations. Let’s just say that neither executive, Razek especially, made a good impression with their dismissive comments about plus-sized and trans models (they weren’t part of the “fantasy” VS was going for in the show).
If you have a basic cable subscription or one of those relatively newfangled online TV accounts, perhaps you’ve seen this title card at least once… and if you have a keen ear, the high-heel clicks that accompany it.
Pose is a dramatic series whose first season ran a year ago on the FX network and debuts Season 2… holy freakin’ cow, this week?!
For the uninitiated, here’s a basic description of what Pose is all about: Set in New York City of the late 1980s, the series is centered primarily around the subculture of the LGBT+ community known as ball culture. In this environment can be found participants who are, more often than not, part of “houses.” No, not a physical house per se, but rather teams of participants who glam themselves up, walk the stage, vogue, and emulate other genders (especially the one they weren’t born as) and social categories in ball events. The object: Making a good impression on the event’s judges and audiences (“10’s across the board!”). The reward: A trophy, personal pride in knowing that you and your house are top dog for at least a night… and the thrill of venturing outside your drab and nowhere-near-glamorous social, economic, and health-related circumstances.
Just for a moment, forget the fact that this blog is being written by a male-to-female crossdresser. Go on, briefly wipe from your memory any indications that I’m an everyday male. Cover up those references on your computer screen if you must.
Okay, now that you’ve done that, go back and look at my photos, either the above header or my Flickr feed. Now, then, ask yourself this: Am I female? Well, since I am wearing clothing and hair and makeup long associated with being female, your usual answer when you saw me would be “yes.” But would your answer change if I restored to your mind the fact that I was born male? Or that I live my everyday life as a male? Or that, being a crossdresser, I consider myself part of the broad transgender community? And having reminded you of that, would your respect of me as a person change in any way?
Three years ago, I went on a tear over something every ear will put up with at least once or twice, if not a heck of a lot more than that, every year at this time: The Christmas carol. Shop at any mall or turn on any radio and it’s for sure you’ll wind up listening to some old chestnut of a carol. It’s a natural occurrence during the holiday season. It gets people in a holiday (and holiday shopping) spirit. It can brighten one’s spirits.
And it can also get on one’s nerves, for various reasons. One is that they’ve heard those songs over and over and over again. Another may be that someone may not want carols, or at least certain versions, to get them into the holiday spirit. And a third reason may be that some of these carols don’t have anything to do with Christmas directly.
As I indicated in my previous post, one of my Thanksgiving Day traditions (if you could call it that) is to hate-watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from New York City. Well, that is if I’m not preoccupied with something else on Thanksgiving morning such as, say, traveling to see my family, typing my blog, or… I dunno, recuperating after a short but tiring work week.
Yeah, ever since at least my teen years, I’ve never taken too much of a keen interest in parades. And when I watched the Macy’s Day Parade (whoops, I keep calling it “Macy’s Day Parade”), it was because Mom either wanted me to help prepare our family’s Thanksgiving lunch, or she just didn’t want me cooped up in my bedroom. Usually it was both.
I’ll start this post with a term from the world of television: Time was (and in some cases still is) that when a network ordered a prospective show to series and added it to their new fall broadcast schedule, they would put in an order of 13 weeks worth of episodes to be produced. Depending on how well that show performs in quality of episodes produced and ratings of said episodes (usually the latter reason), it will receive an additional order of episodes for a “full season.” If it isn’t up to snuff, the network will drop it after those 13 episodes, if not sooner.
I bring up this analogy because this past Friday saw the finish of my 13th week at my current place of temp-to-hire employment. As you may have read on here before, I am indeed currently in a “work assignment” (my term), working at a certain charitable assistance organization that, for the purposes of anonymity, shall remain nameless. And just as with a TV show whose cast and writers are trying to gel over those initial 13 weeks of episodes, I had a lot of growing to do in learning all the ins and outs of the position I was assigned to after I somehow impressed the powers-that-be with my skill set (call my job search the “pilot season” if you will).
Also as with most TV shows just starting out and developing their characters and the world they’re in, I began rather modestly in this assignment. I started out small, just composing and formatting small reports and siting alongside the person I thought I would be working with as he showed me all the ropes. (I’ll get to the significance of the word with in a moment.)
Unless they’re real lucky and right away get a “full season” of episodes to stretch out and develop, a TV show really needs to make a good impression in their first 13 weeks. That’s what I wanted to do at my assignment, and there were times when I did. But overall, I felt unsure whether I did or not. There really isn’t any significant metrics (or “Nielsen ratings” in TV speak) that would serve as a gauge of how I was doing, such as “how many invoices did I submit?” or “did I send this report to the CFO when she needed it?” Those in the TV industry (executives, producers, talent, etc.) may have lingering doubts about a series they committed to, but more often they go with their gut, take a leap of faith, do their very best, and hope things turn out in a positive way. That’s what I did for the most part in my assignment, taking a keen interest (or listening to as much as possible) to what I was being taught, taking a lot of notes, and performing as best as possible when I was lent the reins. In other words, in lieu of ratings, I took leaps of faith, just as the CFO certainly did when she offered me the assignment.
At times during its first 13 weeks and even during its pre-air development, a TV series must go through a lot of changes. Sometimes those changes are intentional, such as changing a set design, choosing which characters to emphasize, or even recasting one or more of those characters. Other times a change becomes unexpected, such as when an actor must leave the series for whatever reason. And here’s where I get to the part about learning from the person I thought I would be working with: Like me, he was at this organization on a temporary basis, putting about 6 hours a day since July. But he did desire another position at another place of employment where he felt more qualified for.
Learning that he was leaving and I would be the go-to guy — i.e. the person who the CFO(!) expects to know everything about my role — has left me rather nervous. Just as TV networks have high expectations about the new series they treat as the “next big thing,” so it is with me at this organization. And while I may likely do a good job when all is proverbially said and done, I worry that I will perform less than what they expect of me. In other words, I hope I don’t have to hear the words “we’re going in a different direction and will replace you.” Yeah, getting “cancelled” would be the pits.
But if “cancellation” is the end result… well, so be it. Look up the IMDb list of any top-line actor, writer, and producer and you’ll see their name associated with likely-long-forgotten TV credits that occurred before and/or after they did more memorable work. (Steven Bochco wrote for a sitcom called Turnabout. Yeah, I don’t remember that one either.) But for sure they made their best efforts to put out great work, no matter how it turned out in the end. That’s the case for me in my career as a whole and my current assignment in particular. I will try to keep positive and try my very best. And with a part-time temp worker who may be able to help out when possible, I know I won’t be a one-man band (I do work better as part of some sort of team).
But what if it doesn’t work out? What if the CFO desires to cast someone with better talent than I? Or what if I desire to leave this “series” for another role in another operation where I can utilize my skills and make the role my own? Well, there’s no certainty that the “next big thing” will be out there. But with connections with “casting agents” (temp agencies, job boards, friends in high places), I hope that an awesome “starring role” will be waiting for me somewhere.
For now, though, I will bide my time in this current work assignment… which, I must say, is one that really challenges my skills. I won’t get into too much particulars, though let’s just say that, for one, there’s a whole lot more to Microsoft Excel than just typing numbers into a cell… and, two, I’m better speaking to people on the phones than I ever thought I was. Well, slightly better. That’s the thing about being a role you’re not sure about: As much as you think you’re uncomfortable playing the part, it brings out talents you never thought you had.
Please keep wishing me luck as I conclude my first 13 episodes… er, weeks in this part and begin my 14th week in an indefinite run. Fate only knows if it will be an all-too-short run, a week-by-week renewal, or a long-lasting role, but it’s for sure that I will give this role everything I’ve got.
So, you’re sick of my posts about my job search? Well, so am I… for now, anyway. While I think about a ginormous employment decision (a topic for another post, I should warn you), I wanted to quickly highlight a nice bit of news from the TV world that hit one week ago. A question first off: Do you know this person?
That person is the actress and activist Nicole Maines. Perhaps you’ve seen her a few years ago in an episode of the show Royal Pains, in which she had a guest role in an episode dealing with how one’s use of hormones can sometimes have an adverse effect (her character was the hormone-taker in question). She’s also appeared in a couple of trans-oriented documentaries, most notably HBO’s The Trans List. Continue reading