Ava and C.I.'s "TV: Now You Know Why the Caged Hamster Squeaks" is hugely popular. They said this one would be for what is basically a blind item at the end. (Yes, I know the actor they're talking about. It's an HBO series. Or was one.) And I'm sure the blind item aspect has helped its popularity but no one would make it to the last three or so paragraphs if the rest of it wasn't also worth reading. Ava and C.I. really are great writers (and my personal favorite of all the pieces they wrote remains "TV: Aftermath leaves an aftertaste" closely followed by "TV: 4 Days in 7th Hell") and they are the reason Third Estate Sunday Review is not just popular but has grown and grown each year. They have this whole body of critical work and reporting there that just stands out and puts the Water Cooler Set (their name for the pompous critics who rush to trash women while treating anything starring middle aged men as the most wonderful thing in the world -- so much so that when the shows use the "f" word for a gay man repeatedly, the Water Cooler Set never calls it out and they let racism and sexism slide by too) to shame.
People like intelligent criticism. By intelligent, I don't mean "high brow." I mean criticism that doesn't play down to them or play up to them. Arts criticism that assumes they must be interested in an adult discussion.
And that also describes David Walsh's commentary/rebuttal. For example, I happen to like Alessandra Stanley who is one of the critics he's taking on. I wasn't bothered in the least by his comments on Stanley. I disagreed with some, agreed with others but respected that he was ofering serious arts criticism and not the garbage that we keep getting elsewhere.
Ava and C.I. present a feminist look at TV -- a, not "the," they always point out. I wish there were others who did that but every time someone's tried, they've tried to copy Ava and C.I. (as Ty pointed out in "Ty's Corner") and that's never going to work. Are they the only online writing team?
When it comes to arts coverage, I think they must be. And what a great accomplishment for women that we can say, "Look, over seven years of hard hitting critiques and reporting from two women. Women who have made women's history online!"
I really mean that. People try to copy Ava and C.I. and people try to attack them. Was it Sharon Smith or some other wack job with US Socialist Worker that tried to attack them al last? They'll never win a fight with Ava and C.I. because those two are women warriors. Seriously. A lot of women make the mistake of getting into a disagreement -- with a man or a woman -- and letting the other dictate the terms. Ava and C.I. don't play that. Their reference point is women. So whomever the lamo at Socialist Worker was, it was just real easy to point out that while claiming to be a feminist, Sharon Smith or whomever, repeatedly defined the world on male terms. Her work rarely featured a living woman being quoted and never focused on women and used all male pop cultural references.
Ava and C.I. don't play that game. In their time online, they've repeatedly noted The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Roseanne as the best in sitcom, they've praised Treva Silverman to the point that she turned up in a joke on a TV show that a friend of their's stars in. They've made a point to recognize the women who paved the way on sitcoms repeatedly and not been stingy but been inclusive. (My personal favorite on their list? Nell Carter. She's too often overlooked but she was perfection as Nell and the show becomes perfection as well when Telma Hopkins joins the cast as her old friend Addie.) They have defended women and they have been their to praise them. For example, we hear over and over about a pairing of Robert DeNero and Al Pacino -- first in Heat -- and the two are not good together. But it's Method actors!!!! No, we hear about it because they're men. As Ava and C.I. have pointed out, Method actresses Jane Fonda and Anne Bancroft worked together on Agnes of God and really sizzled in their scenes together. But you don't hear about that. I remember the first time they really stressed that it was to praise the acting combination of Patricia Arquette and Anjelica Huston on Medium. They repeatedly are the champions of women -- though that doesn't mean they don't criticize women who fail at their tasks. [For an example of that, see what has become one of their top 3 most read pieces and it just went up in November "Trapped in an AA meeting with Judy Collins (Ava and C.I.)"]
But what the mannequins of Socialist Worker never grasp is that their entire subtext is women's accomplishments which is why their pieces are so rich and why they work overall. Even something like turning a CSI review into a parody of the show (the main show, the Miami show and the NYC show) but making sure that instead of the Who playing a rock classic, they've got the amazing Wilson sisters of Heart, it's those touches that help to keep women in the game.
I don't think people get how much men reinforce one another. That's why so many men enter the canons of authors or rock or what have you. Women (and men) should be doing the same with female artists. But you get the loony ladies of Socialist Worker who spend all their time praising men and ignoring women.
For women's history month, take a vow to be an Ava and C.I. for at least five minutes this month and give a well earned shout out to other women.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"