The most exciting entry in the next section of columns is “The Mole,” a dispatch from an anonymous source inside the BBC who shares his or her savvy: “For any new recruit to the Corporation, it can come as something of a surprise to find how much responsibility can be foisted on inexperienced shoulders. A young producer can find herself talking to very prominent people and making instant decisions about who should and who should not be put on air. That involves a lot of trust. There is a safeguard, of course, and it can be summarised in six words: “when in doubt, refer it up.””

The meaty well section of the magazine offers a long dialogue—a sort of Q&A between a business commentator and a historian moderated by the magazine’s editor—about the growing terrorist threat. There’s no fear of long quotes here, or of startling ideas: “9/11 itself only cost $500,000 to mount, which is a trivial amount of money for a trillion dollars’ worth of damage.” As a counterbalance to the very serious conversation that precedes “Dialogue 2: The British Gas man cometh (not)” is a very funny, if maddening, transcript of one woman’s attempt to have her heating boiler repaired. It’s refreshing to have a humor piece in the magazine, but I’m not sure that it works when wedged between a lengthy discussion of terrorism and the dry cover story about the influence that Berlin had on David Bowie.

Of Standpoint’s foreign policy pieces, the best is a feature that examines how Obama’s race and nationality may affect his dealings with leaders on the African continent. “The fact that he, a poor boy born to an African immigrant father, could rise in a single generation to become president dramatises America’s promise of openness and opportunity as nothing else could. This almost magical achievement will alone guarantee Obama huge crowds anywhere in Africa and will without doubt spur many more Africans to seek a future in America.” Perhaps this is too simplistic a characterization of the challenges any president faces in dealing with Africa, but it is a worthy reflection nonetheless.

The U.S. equivalent to Standpoint is probably something like The New Republic. But until the magazine finds its voice, I wouldn’t get a subscription yet. -Katia Bachko


Bitch, Winter 2009

If CJR doesn’t satiate your appetite for media criticism, then you may find salvation on the pages of Bitch magazine.

For example, its Winter 2009 issue features an article for its “On Archetypes” column, by Monica Nolan, that analyzes film’s treatment of career women. The column uses the summertime blockbuster Sex and the City: The Movie to bemoan the lack of progress the film industry has made in portraying goal-oriented, successful women.

Nolan begins her piece by declaring her hatred for the film, followed by her disappointment in male critics’ lack of enthusiasm in reviewing the film. She then takes us through a brief history of Hollywood’s stereotypically vapid female roles, examining the careers of actresses like Joan Crawford and Barbara Stanwyck, and evaluates the industry’s progress. Her assessment:

Still, when we look past the film’s box office to its actual content, do we at least see in SATC: the Movie a representation of the career woman that is significantly new? Are you surprised when the answer is mostly “No”?

Not much here is terribly eye-opening or earth-shattering, which Nolan admits: “The absence of women on screen is not news.” Then again, to be fair, most Maureen Dowd columns aren’t either.

Perhaps my inability to identify with the feminist movement leaves me predisposed to dismiss this column—as well as a few of the others in the magazine—as a bit whiny. Leaving my biases aside, though, I found a lot to like about Bitch. The magazine’s features can be smart and passionate. This issue, for instance, features a piece on female artists using their own bodies as canvasses, an interview exploring the misogyny of hip hop, and a look at the newest breed of rape-revenge films.

So, if you find yourself yearning for biting criticism mixed with a heavy dose of feminism, pick up Bitch. Chances are you’ll find it infuriatingly satisfying. -Megan McGinley

CJR Staff is a contributor to CJR.