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A humorous and reflective journey of self-discovery via pop culture.

Essays that incorporate elements of 2000s pop culture to examine broader themes of queer identity and sexuality.

Longtime Onion and Reductress contributor Perry revisits the songs, movies, and TV shows she was drawn to as a closeted, Catholic adolescent in the Midwest. She examines them in order to explain her coming-out process, interspersing personal anecdotes with recaps of the plotlines and characters involved in the media that informed them. Her knowledge is extensive, running from The Real World to Harry Potter, Dawson’s Creek, The O.C., the Disney Channel, The L Word, Taylor Swift, and Glee—and beyond. Perry isn’t interested in dissecting 2000s pop culture or passing judgment. Rather, she analyzes how it shaped a generation of queer people despite the scarcity of actual LGBTQ+ representation. Perry deploys specific pop-culture phenomena to open up larger conversations about a variety of relevant topics—e.g., MTV’s programming and gender essentialism, Dumbledore’s sexuality and the problem of disingenuous representation, singer King Princess and the etymology of “coming out of the closet” and whether it is still a relevant framework. The author also turns her critical eye toward the ways in which queer viewers were drawn to queer-coded characters because of what they saw in themselves but also modeled themselves after those characters, in a long game of chicken or the egg. As sexuality and gender became better understood and celebrated in the late 2000s, pop culture reacted to the trend, but millennials straddle the divide. “We grew up without queer characters in our cartoons or Nickelodeon or Disney or TGIF sitcoms. We were raised in homophobia, came of age as the world changed around us, and are raising children in an age where it’s never been easier to be same-sex parents. We’re both lucky and jealous,” Perry writes, hopeful for the future in this post-Glee world.

A humorous and reflective journey of self-discovery via pop culture.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76014-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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The choir is sure to enjoy this impassioned preaching on familiar progressive themes.

Essays on current political topics by a high-profile actor and activist.

Milano explains in an introduction that she began writing this uneven collection while dealing with a severe case of Covid-19 and suffering from "persistent brain fog.” In the first essay, "On Being Unapologetically Fucked Up,” the author begins by fuming over a February 2019 incident in which she compared MAGA caps worn by high school kids to KKK hoods. She then runs through a grab bag of flash-point news items (police shootings, border crimes, sexual predators in government), deploying the F-bomb with abandon and concluding, "What I know is that fucked up is as fundamental a state of the world as night and day. But I know there is better. I know that ‘less fucked up’ is a state we can live in.” The second essay, "Believe Women," discusses Milano’s seminal role in the MeToo movement; unfortunately, it is similarly conversational in tone and predictable in content. One of the few truly personal essays, "David," about the author's marriage, refutes the old saw about love meaning never having to say you're sorry, replacing it with "Love means you can suggest a national sex strike and your husband doesn't run away screaming." Milano assumes, perhaps rightly, that her audience is composed of followers and fans; perhaps these readers will know what she is talking about in the seemingly allegorical "By Any Other Name," about her bad experience with a certain rosebush. "Holy shit, giving birth sucked," begins one essay. "Words are weird, right?" begins the next. "Welp, this is going to piss some of you off. Hang in there," opens a screed about cancel culture—though she’s entirely correct that “it’s childish, divisive, conceited, and Trumpian to its core.” By the end, however, Milano's intelligence, compassion, integrity, and endurance somewhat compensate for her lack of literary polish.

The choir is sure to enjoy this impassioned preaching on familiar progressive themes.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18329-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A forceful, necessarily provocative call to action for the preservation and protection of American Jewish freedom.

Known for her often contentious perspectives, New York Times opinion writer Weiss battles societal Jewish intolerance through lucid prose and a linear playbook of remedies.

While she was vividly aware of anti-Semitism throughout her life, the reality of the problem hit home when an active shooter stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue where her family regularly met for morning services and where she became a bat mitzvah years earlier. The massacre that ensued there further spurred her outrage and passionate activism. She writes that European Jews face a three-pronged threat in contemporary society, where physical, moral, and political fears of mounting violence are putting their general safety in jeopardy. She believes that Americans live in an era when “the lunatic fringe has gone mainstream” and Jews have been forced to become “a people apart.” With palpable frustration, she adroitly assesses the origins of anti-Semitism and how its prevalence is increasing through more discreet portals such as internet self-radicalization. Furthermore, the erosion of civility and tolerance and the demonization of minorities continue via the “casual racism” of political figures like Donald Trump. Following densely political discourses on Zionism and radical Islam, the author offers a list of bullet-point solutions focused on using behavioral and personal action items—individual accountability, active involvement, building community, loving neighbors, etc.—to help stem the tide of anti-Semitism. Weiss sounds a clarion call to Jewish readers who share her growing angst as well as non-Jewish Americans who wish to arm themselves with the knowledge and intellectual tools to combat marginalization and defuse and disavow trends of dehumanizing behavior. “Call it out,” she writes. “Especially when it’s hard.” At the core of the text is the author’s concern for the health and safety of American citizens, and she encourages anyone “who loves freedom and seeks to protect it” to join with her in vigorous activism.

A forceful, necessarily provocative call to action for the preservation and protection of American Jewish freedom.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-13605-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2019

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