Tuesday News: Amazon bookstore, Heroine Chic, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and American Qur’an
Amazon opens its first real bookstore — at U-Village – The rumors, apparently, are true. Amazon now has its first brick and mortar bookstore, in Seattle, and while it is selling some of the same books as Amazon.com at the same prices (including a book written by Jeff Bezos’s wife, MacKenzie), the store will not serve as an Amazon locker location or a hub for Amazon imprints, keeping it separate, to some degree, from the online business. The store has apparently managed to poach some of its sales staff from other bookstores in the area, and will also tailor its offerings to appeal to the local readership. This is definitely going to be interesting.
The company will stock best-sellers, of course. But it will also include books that get the highest ratings from its customers, including little-known titles. The store will also include such categories as “Most Wished-For Cookbooks.” Another section features “Award Winners, 4.5 Stars & Above, Age 6-12.”
One other way the store, with 5,500 square feet of retail space and 2,000 square feet of storage, is distinct from traditional bookstores: Every book will face out, rather than be stacked tightly with only their spines showing. That leaves far less space for books. – Seattle Times
Fashion Comic ‘Heroine Chic’ to Debut on Line Webtoon – The first five episodes of Heroine Chic are up at Webtoon, featuring fashion grad Zoe Porter, who now works in a Devil Wears Prada-ish fashion world, for a designer who is famous for her superhero costumes. Illustrated by Audrey Mok and written by David Tischman, there will be 26 episodes in total. Thus far it seems to be a pretty clever take on fashion and superheroes, and some of the stereotypes around both, and as i09 noted, the fashion designer for whom Zoe works appears to be a version of The Incredibles‘ Edna Mode.
“Superheroes are by nature aspirational,” Tischman explained. “They live on a higher moral plane than you and I; they have the fortitude to go out there and fight for what’s right. But fashion is also aspirational. We present an image to the world with the clothes that we put on every morning….When we’re standing naked in front of the closet, that’s our secret identity. We put on that super suit and go out into the world and try to make it a better place. It’s a really great mixture of two worlds that you never thought would go together.” – WWD
‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ Is Smart, Sexy, Unapologetically Feminist TV – I remember when “Jane the Virgin” was being announced as the “new show” of the season, and how enraged I was at everything anti-feminist and sex-negative the title and the description suggested about the show. And almost all of my assumptions turned out to be wrong. If anything, I found the show to be even more thoughtful than others that advertised themselves as more superficially progressive. So now the CW has introduced another horrifically titled show, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” that, according to Samantha Allen, is similarly misleading in regard to how it thinks about and portrays women. Sometimes, to destroy something, you have to dive deep into its heart, like the Millennium Falcon into the Death Star, and blow it up from the inside, Allen says of the show, and that got me thinking about how television has taken on a lot of intelligent and engaged storytelling. Which got me thinking about the tendency to underestimate popular culture’s ability to interrogate its own stereotypes and clichés and a refusal to trust portrayals that are not overtly and consistently critical of certain ideas. It’s an ongoing debate in Romance, as well, and I thought this was an interesting take:
Most importantly, the show humanizes its lead instead of outright pathologizing her. The idea that women are innately “crazy” is one of the oldest misogynist myths in the book—but that doesn’t mean that a story about a woman pursuing a man in an unhealthy way should be off-limits, especially if it’s told as expertly as this one. Women are humans and humans make stereotypical mistakes. It’s even permissible to laugh when they make them on television, provided the presentation isn’t condescending or mean. And this deeply funny show is neither. — The Daily Beast
The Qur’an In 114 Paintings – Speaking of popular culture and cultural self-awareness, artist Sandow Birk has completed an almost 500-page book that seeks to infuse Islamic tradition, as presented in the Qur’an, with American life and culture. It’s a provocative undertaking, one that has apparently not been especially controversial within the American Muslim community. According to PW, “[t]he book project includes essays in support of the project from a number of religion academics,” including Reza Aslan, with whom Birk will be appearing at UCLA in December to discuss the project. The work is being described as a “transcription” that utilizes both traditional and non-traditional elements, and emerged from Birk’s desire, as a non-Muslim, to understand Islam better:
Birk researched the history of the Qur’an and found a long Islamic tradition devoted to using beautifully rendered calligraphy to re-create the book’s Arabic text. Birk has done the same, transcribing the 114 chapters of the Qur’an in a quirky, graffiti-influenced script. He placed his calligraphic transcription of the Qur’an’s text over a visual survey of contemporary American life—images from small-town and urban life.
American Qu’ran is an illuminated manuscript for the present day, invoking the presence of Islam throughout American life. With its richly designed sacred script and partially obscured genre scenes, the paintings in American Qur’an manage to be engaging and visually eccentric while also being reassuring about its subject matter. – Publishers Weekly