Feminist Friday: Etta James passes away, Ellen pays it forward, “30 Rock” tackles Tracy Morgan’s homophobia

Welcome to Feminist Friday, a round-up of women-centric stories from the world wide web this week.

It’s a sad day for America. The iconic Etta James passed away today at the age of 73. She’s probably best known for “At Last,” but the soulful singer’s career lasted over half a century, and spanned genres from from blues to jazz to rock ‘n roll to R&B. After being diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, she released one final album, The Dreamer, in 2011. There will be countless (deserved) tributes to Etta James over the next few weeks. The Washington Post‘s obit is a good place to start.

Last week a homeless Long Island teen named Samantha Garvey started making news because she’s a super smart student who landed herself a finalist position at the Intel Science Talent Search. You know who always takes notice of these kinds of stories? Yep, our own Ellen DeGeneres. She brought Garvey onto the show and offered up a $50,000 scholarship (funded by her buddies at AT&T) to the college of her choice. Watch the video; you won’t be sorry.

It is a good time to be Melissa McCarthy. The former Mrs. Sookie St. James and current Hollywood hot ticket sold a scripted comedy to CBS this week, her second one in four months. Her first sale was a show about a woman who “has a spectacular midlife crisis,” and the second sale is a show about “a 37-year-old man living with his parents.” Both shows were written by her husband, Ben Falcone. (You know, the air marshal from Bridesmaids.) And both will be co-produced by McCarthy.) I want to live in a world where shows like Work It never get greenlit because ladies like McCarthy are turning out comedies networks can’t refuse.

This week the Massachusetts state legislature passed a law prohibiting employment, housing, credit, and insurance discrimination against transgender people. The law also expanded their hate crime verbiage to include trans citizens. According to the Boston Herald, “Attorney General Martha Coakley said her office was ready to enforce the new law, adding that she hopes it won’t often be necessary.” Way to get it done, MA!

Last night 30 Rock tackled Tracy Morgan‘s 2011 Summer of Homophobia and Penance. I mentioned in Brew last week that Tina Fey had written a storyline for Tracy Jordan that involved him saying something homophobic and Liz Lemon writing him an apology for being an idiot. Her apology offends idiots, so while LGBT activist groups picket NBC, idiots — led by Denise Richards — also begin picketing the network. The response to the episode has been mixed. GLAAD’s Senior Director of Programs Herndon Graddick said he thought the episode was “hilarious.” But plenty of entertainment sites have complained that 30 Rock played it “way too safe.”

Dorothy Snarker will have a full SnapCap for you on Monday. In the meantime, what did you think of the episode?

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