Before I get to the part where I talk about a movie…
Worriers put out a record in March, which may as well have happened a decade ago on another planet, but it was an achievement for us. Writing a record when none of you live in the same place, with John Agnello, a producer you have all admired forever….it was a big deal to me at least. If we pulled that off, we can basically do anything. So while the rest of my feed is ranking art, I’d like to list the top five things I’d like to do in the next year:
- Record a new record
- Publish an instructional zine about going on tour
- Publish another artist book
- Work with one of my favorite songwriters
- Get a song on the long-running medical drama that I watch religiously
I’m going to go ahead and say that I can probably do four out of five of those things if I put my mind to it, but I need your help! I have a goal for the number of subscribers that will help me do these things independently (one day I will make a record and keep the masters… one day…) and I think we can do it! If you’re already a paid subscriber, thank you! High fives. If you’d like to become a paid subscriber, you can get 15% off for a year between now and the end of the month.
I understand that not everyone has the means to do that, so if you’d like to share this newsletter that also helps! It really does! Word of mouth is amazing!
ALSO, just a heads up that I’ve put the last of the “tour pressing” on our webstore and there are only 29 left as of today, so go get one if you want one! I consider it a special vortex pressing for the year that never was. Once they’re gone, they’re gone! Thanks everyone!
Somewhere along the line, I mentioned to y’all that I’ve been on a number of podcasts just to talk about other bands or songs I didn’t write. I was asked to compile those into a list, so here you go! Nerd out! Tomorrow I’m taping another one where we’re going to talk about The Postal Service - Give Up, more on that soon.
Repeater - Paramore - Still Into You
The Opus - I’m one of many guests talking about The Clash
Left of the Dial - American Steel - Jagged Thoughts
Unscripted Moments: A Podcast About Propagandhi - Propagandhi - Anchorless
Several years ago, my bandmates and I packed our stuff into a minivan and drove to Chicago to play The Lawrence Arms’ War on X-Mas. It was cold, I probably ate at the vegan diner, and we had a great time. RIP Double Door. I would LOVE to be in Chicago this week for another edition of that, but instead, I’m a part of a rad livestream they’re doing this Friday night featuring folks like Tim McIlrath, Matt Skiba, Brian Fallon, Sincere Engineer, Kyle Kinane and more. A portion of the proceeds go to the Chicago Food Bank. Tune in!
My Thoughts on Happiest Season
Let me start by saying that I was very excited to watch this movie and will probably watch it again. Should pigs fly and Mary Holland or Clea Duvall ever read this, thank you for making this movie. Great job. I can’t think of another mainstream holiday movie that is this gay, so that’s cool. But I, along with most people I know who have ever identified with the lesbian experience, wanted to throw my phone at the television at least a dozen times. All despite the fact that I absolutely have a crush on Mackenzie Davis who plays Harper, one of the main characters.
Starting with the coffee date between Kristin Stewart’s character Abby and John, played by Dan Levy, I knew I was in for some eye rolling at the very least. When Abby tells John that she’s going to ask her girlfriend Harper’s Dad for his blessing before asking her to get married, complete with a diamond ring, every queer bone in my body wanted to hurl. Thankfully David from Schitt’s Creek was there to object, pointing out how this was not the most feminist move, but the objections ended there. I had so many questions, including why Abby, who looks like the punk in the relationship, would even be the one to hold down the patriarchal norms? The slouchy, cool one does not exactly read as the down-on-one-knee kinda gal, but whatever I guess? If this is going to go over well with mainstream audiences, I understand that they had to throw that in there for sentimental effect. Fine.
Next up was the giant red flag that should’ve ended the relationship in real life. On the way to visit Harper’s parents for Christmas, Harper tells Abby that she did not in fact tell her family that she is gay or that Abby is her girlfriend. This is the part where Abby should’ve Ladybirded out of that car, end scene, roll credits. But that would’ve been a very short movie.
I could’ve handled it if there was a lot of slapstick comedy around avoiding getting caught, followed by a heartfelt speech where Harper comes out to her parents and they all live happily ever after…but that is not what happened. Instead, we got two hours of watching Harper be an absolutely nightmare of a girlfriend, complete with flirting with her ex-boyfriend (why?), gaslighting Abby when she’s called out about that (dude!), and never really acknowledging that if she’s not ready to come out, maybe she shouldn’t expect her girlfriend (I can’t even say partner because that’s not what they are) to go along on her emotional journey sans-therapist.
If we needed more reason to be sceptical of Harper, it turns out she secretly dated her friend Riley (played by Aubrey Plaza!) in high school and that when someone found a love note from Riley, Harper claimed to be straight and made Riley out to be the weirdo. We are led to believe she never apologized. Giant red flag waving ominously in the wind. So when Riley and Abby meet at a holiday party and later grab a beer together at a gay bar, I felt confident that there was an army of queers behind me cheering them on. The movie would soon end with them kissing under mistletoe surrounded by drag queens. Right? NOPE.
Instead, John shows up to whisk Abby away, which was the right thing for a friend to do. Get her in the car and drive home. Well done. But for some reason John, the one character who was supposed to be the queer voice of reason, decided to give a speech letting Harper off the hook. I get it, coming out to your parents is scary. Fair. Totally fair. Everyone could use some empathy there. But it doesn’t excuse Harper throwing her girlfriends under the bus repeatedly, or guilting Abby into going along with the lie. Abby is allowed to be angry and leave!
Also, let’s be real here, it’s 2020 and Harper’s family lives in Connecticut or something and don’t seem to have any other homophobic vibes about them other than being really preppy and boring. Harper is also a grown white adult with a good job, so on the larger scale of “life would be this hard if I came out” she’s going to be fine. The whiteness of this movie is pretty blinding so I can only hope that its huge ratings will open doors for more queer rom-coms with people of color in the leading roles.
When Harper’s sister outs her in front of everyone (a shitty thing to do), Harper still denies it like it’s some terrible pox upon her family. Thank you so much for triggering at least half of your audience. ::throws phone::
Technically this movie has a happy ending, and us queers deserve a holiday movie that doesn’t end in a breakup or death. Good call there. But the thought of Abby continuing in a relationship with someone who clearly has a lot of work to do instead of Aubrey fucking Plaza still has me screaming internally. Do you understand how hard you have to work to get me to root against Mackenzie Davis? This is commendable. Though maybe I should give them bonus points for depicting a realistic relationship, because most of us have stayed in toxic situations for too long and can relate? I guess?
I don’t want to end this on a sour note, so let’s talk about Jane! Harper’s sister Jane, played by Mary Holland, is my favorite character in any movie I’ve seen in the past five years, at least. Her awkward, tech-savy, black sheep vibe brought me true joy. Had Jane not been there with that over-enthusiastic smile to make me laugh hysterically throughout, I probably would’ve had an anxiety attack. Despite the fact that her family seems to barely tolerate her, Jane is determined and earnest and a dork and I love her. I’m going to humble brag for a moment that I was on a podcast with Mary Holland once and she’s just consistently so fucking funny and I hope she gets all the great roles in movies forever. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.