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CARINA CHOCANO discusses her book YOU PLAY THE GIRL with KRISTINA WONG

You Play the Girl (Mariner Books)

In this smart, funny, impassioned call to arms, a pop culture critic merges memoir and commentary to explore how our culture shapes ideas about who women are, what they are meant to be, and where they belong.

Who is “the girl?” Look to movies, TV shows, magazines, and ads and the message is both clear and not: she is a sexed up sidekick, a princess waiting to be saved, a morally infallible angel with no opinions of her own. She’s whatever the hero needs her to be in order to become himself. She’s an abstraction, an ideal, a standard, a mercurial phantom. 

From the moment we’re born, we’re told stories about what girls are and they aren’t, what girls want and what they don’t, what girls can be and what they can’t. “The girl” looms over us like a toxic cloud, permeating everything and confusing our sense of reality. In You Play the Girl, Carina Chocano shows how we metabolize the subtle, fragmented messages embedded in our everyday experience and how our identity is shaped by them.  

From Bugs Bunny to Playboy Bunnies, from Flashdance to Frozen, from the progressive ’70s through the backlash ’80s, the glib ’90s, and the pornified aughts—and at stops in between—Chocano blends formative personal stories with insightful and emotionally powerful analysis. She explains how growing up in the shadow of “the girl” taught her to think about herself and the world and what it means to raise a daughter in the face of these contorted reflections. In the tradition of Roxane Gay, Rebecca Solnit, and Susan Sontag, Chocano brilliantly shows that our identities are more fluid than we think, and certainly more complex than anything we see on any kind of screen.

Praise for You Play the Girl 

“You Play the Girl by Carina Chocano blew my mind. Like a goldfish realizing that water existed, I instantly came alive to the air and the atmosphere of how my Otherness informed my girlhood. Each and every message of being asked to stand still so that I could be seen by the cultural product of male-made entertainment made me scream with recognition. In particular, the Flashdance chapter time-travelled me back to my youth, but holding hands with a clear-eyed, brilliant, hilarious friend. Re-looking at Stepford Wives, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched and all of the other hypnotic suggestions about my supposed woman-hood made me feel alive and energized and ready to topple the patriarchy. The world is changing for women and girls and here is one of the first steps—going back to do archaeology about what the heck happened to us, how we got colonized. If information is power, You Play the Girl is amsuperpower.”—Jill Soloway, writer, director, creator of Transparent

“Carina Chocano is a brilliant thinker, a dazzling stylist and an intellectual in the truest sense of the word. An important critical work as well as an entertaining personal story, You Play the Girl looks at old archetypes in new and often astonishingly insightful ways and establishes Chocano as a unique talent and crucial voice in the cultural conversation.”—Meghan Daum, author of The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion

“Carina Chocano unearths the little horrors of our culture’s pervasive, insidious sexism in essays so brilliant and witty you’ll wish her book would never end. Chocano is one of our sharpest, most original cultural observers, and You Play the Girl is as engrossing as it is unforgettable.”—Heather Havrilesky, author of How to Be a Person in the World

Carina Chocano is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine and Elle, and her writing has appeared in Vulture, Rolling Stone, and elsewhere. A former staff film and TV critic at the Los Angeles Times, she has also worked as a TV and book critic at Entertainment Weekly and a staff writer at Salon. She lives in Los Angeles.

Kristina Wong is solo performer, writer, actor, educator, “culture jammer”, and filmmaker. Kristina’s background in education, art for social change, and community work informs the content of her performances and writing which are both entertaining and thought provoking.

She was awarded the Creative Capital Award in Theater and a Creation Fund from the National Performance Network to create her third full-length solo show Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest exploring the remarkably high incidence of suicide among Asian American women in a world that’s more nuts than we are. She is completing a novel started with the PEN USA Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellowship.

Event date: 
Thursday, August 31, 2017 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780544648944
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - August 8th, 2017