- - Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What makes a heroine I

“Yesterday, we reported on Tina Fey’s burgeoning career as an essayist — complete with book tour and publication in the New Yorker … . Curiously, Fey has often been the subject of such judgment from the New Yorker itself; she’s the rare first-time writer for the magazine who’s been treated dismissively in its pages. A consequence of success: Those who once criticized you now publish you!

“In 2003, Virginia Heffernan profiled the then-‘Saturday Night Live’ head writer. The profile crystallized a perception of Fey as super-smart and observant, and more than a little cutting. Heffernan notes Fey’s history of mocking others in high school … On to 2008! After the launch of ‘30 Rock’ and the beginning, in earnest, of Fey’s film career, Anthony Lane wrote of Fey’s ‘curves’ in a review of the film ‘Baby Mama’: ‘It’s possible that Fey, like other television stars, is unused to being framed in full length’ …

“Thank God for Sarah Palin! Fey’s Palin impersonation was reviewed positively by Kelefah Sanneh, and even Nancy Franklin called it ‘killer’! By late last year, she was popping up as the living embodiment of what hip filmmaker Lena Dunham hopes to achieve, in a profile of Dunham; now she’s been fully accepted into the New Yorker fold. It’s amazing what an impersonation of a hated political figure can do, and not just for one’s bank account — once unable to impress the cognoscenti of New York, she’s now one of them.”

Daniel D’Addario, writing on “Tina Fey’s Rocky History With the New Yorker” on Feb. 8 at the New York Observer

What makes a heroine II

“But ‘Broadcast News’ didn’t just foresee a crisis in journalism; it illuminates the crisis in romantic comedies currently bedeviling Hollywood, as screenwriters and directors still can’t find a way to make a heroine’s career anything but an obstacle to her heart’s desire. [Holly] Hunter’s character, network producer Jane Craig, became a template for a new kind of rom-com heroine — the workaholic who must choose between icy careerism and a warm romantic life.

“But the film’s respect for Jane’s work, and its famously audience-unfriendly ending, are reminders that few of the movies that have followed in [its] footsteps have shared its guts. Even [James L.] Brooks’ return to D.C., in last month’s underrated ‘How Do You Know?’ demonstrates how hard it is to reach the level of wit and heart ‘Broadcast News’ achieved. …

“Unlike so many of Hollywood’s corporate ice queens just waiting to be thawed, Jane’s emotionally available even as she’s unyielding. Recall the greatest line in a film full of great lines, when her boss sarcastically asks her if it feels good to be smarter than everyone else. ‘No, it’s awful,’ Jane replies, her face a mask of misery. Romance, with its requirement to bend one’s self toward another’s, has no place in her life, until it sneaks in through the only available door — the workplace.”

Dan Kois, writing on “We Need More Women Like Jane Craig,” on Feb. 8 at Slate

What makes a hero

“It’s the kind of thing that might upset a few people out there, but Green Bay schools [shut] down early Monday so the kids can go watch the Packers return home from the Super Bowl. …

“Does this send the message to kids that athletes are kings, and that education takes a backseat to athletic accomplishment? That is one way to look at it. I can’t say that’s not a valid concern. But think of it more as promoting a sense of community. Green Bay is a little city that’s tied very closely to its professional football team. It’s something that brings people together there.

“I don’t see a huge issue with giving kids a couple hours off from school in order to instill a sense of community, and belonging to something bigger than themselves. Enjoy yourselves, Green Bay.”

Matthew J. Darnell writing on “Green Bay schools close early to welcome home the Packers,” on Feb. 7 at the Yahoo Sports blog Shutdown Corner

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