SuperStorm Remix

Finally, a viral meme based on a woman who does her job really well, who’s able to express what we’re all thinking but not able to put into words.

Lydia Callis, Mayor Bloomberg’s expressive interpreter during Hurricane Superstorm Sandy, broke through the media clutter and became a viral sensation last week. And not for her clothes. Or her looks. Or who she was dating. She became viral because her work was awesome during a time when the media-capital of the world needed a little bit of awesome.

At first I was hesitant because I thought her audience was laughing, essentially, at disability and how funny it is to be hearing impaired. Which, obvi, not cool. But I think, and I hope, the joy of Callis is that she’s able to emote and express feelings that we wish Bloomberg, or anyone in power for that mater, would express.

Callis has been interpreting for her mom and three siblings — all of whom are deaf — since she was a child. When Bloomberg Businessweek wanted to interview her after a recent press conference, she was like, HELL NO. She told the New York Post, “I’m here to serve the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. I’m just glad, and I’m honored, that I was able to get the message out there…that’s what it’s all about.” Good for her. After all, her job as an interpreter is to accommodate and create effective communication.

“If he stutters, if he messes up a sentence, you’re going to see me stuttering, and you’re going to see me messing up the sentence,” she told DNAinfo, adding that she also tries to convey his sometimes-sarcastic tone through facial expressions. “The point of interpreting is to render the message faithfully, and that’s what I have to do.”

And did you see the Lydia Callis SNL skit? The Chris Christie/White People excerpt was hilarious and the best part, IMO! Speaking of white people, LOVE THIS:


How much?!

How I would love to see an itemized bill for certain expenses. Like where tax dollars go. How much celebrities spend on trainers. And what kind of math the girl on the subway used to buy a $4,000 Celine bag but wasn’t able to come up with “some ways to start saving money”. I’ve always wondered how much logo and rebranding for corporations costs, mostly because, as artist, our jobs are to take those carefully crafted brands and run amuck.

I’ve always wondered…and now I know!

Cost: $211,000,000

BP was redesigned in 208, 2 years before the Deepwater Horizon Spill, to appear more green, natural and one-with-the-earth…you know, the things you usually think of when you think of drilling for oil. Good thing they didn’t go with their runner up: brown ducks.

Cost: $15
The Twitter logo was designed by Simon Oxley in 2009. It has recently been updated to something “simpler, younger and more dynamic” but no record of how much that process cost.

Cost: $0
Originally designed in 1998 in a free, paired-down Photoshop-esque app called Gimp, a Google founder, Sergey Brin, didn’t charge his colleagues anything but he definitely holds it over their heads in staff meetings.

Cost:  $35
Created by then-graphic design student Carolyn Davidson in 1975, the Nike logo didn’t blow anyone away but she submitted her bill for $35 anyway, a price included the logo’s design only. After it became famous world wide, Nike gave the graphic designer a diamond Swoosh ring and an envelope filled with Nike stock to express their gratitude. She was unimpressed. “Whatami gonna do with a RING?”

Cost: A reasonable $33,000

The famous Paul Rand designed this Enron logo in the 1990s. Who knew it would go on to be in the open credits of every 5 o’clock news segment, surrounded by disgruntled employees carrying boxed-up-belongings?  Obviously, this is not one of my most favorite Rand designs. See his work here. I’ve always loved his ABC & DUNHILL logos. Not that you asked.




Oscars 2011: What You Missed

This year, for the first time, in a long time, there wasn’t a drought of women-made-movies. Women created some of the most beautiful, provocative and complex films in theaters in 2011.

  1. Pariah, Written and Directed by Dee Rees
  2. We Need to Talk About Kevin, Co-Written and Directed by Lynne Ramsay
  3. The Whistleblower, Directed by Larysa Kondracki
  4. Higher Ground, Directed by Vera Farmiga
  5. In the Land of Blood and Honey, Written and Directed by Angelina Jolie
  6. Circumstance, Written and Directed by Maryam Keshavarz
  7. I Will Follow, Written and Directed by Ava Duvernay
  8. Meek’s Cutoff, Directed by Kelly Reichardt
  9. The Future, Written and Directed by Miranda July

Maybe you didn’t hear about them? You won’t this weekend, either as The Oscars, “the world’s preeminent movie-related organization” honors “the most accomplished men and women working in cinema”.

My colleague Melissa Silverstein and I made a video over at Women And Hollywood that compiles all the female-directed films not nominated in an effort to highlight women’s work and shed light on part of the problem: the voting population of the Academy.

  • 94% white.
  • 77% male.
  • 62 is the average age.

We’ve moved beyond the issue of ‘not enough women making work.’

This frat club has $196 million in assets and doles out $20 million in grants, scholarships and film festival support annually. Their biggest income generator to support filmmakers is the Academy Awards where, according to their last tax filing, they made $81 million dollars in revenue. It’s a powerful club that doesn’t represent the movie-going public.

As a result, it’s important to honor prominent female directors here in an effort to encourage more women to write and direct their own work, open the conversation about women-made narratives and shed light on who decides what narratives get honored and why and how that affects our popular culture.

So on Sunday night, women will be at the forefront of the Oscars. But not for their work; for their dress. Keep these women-made movies in mind as you watch the plethora of men accept their awards on behalf of other white men.

ps. When the LA Times released the stats on the Academy’s voting population this week it reminded me of this image of witnesses testifying on the birth control benefit on Capitol Hill. Note: not one uterus present.