bell hooks is a legendary feminist author, scholar, and rejecter of capital letters. Saved by the Bell is a legendarily bad 90s TV show that lives on in our hearts regardless. It’s honestly surprising it’s taken so long for someone to create a Tumblr that connects the two, but thankfully, they finally have.
Saved by the bell hooks features screenshots of the show captioned by quotes from hooks’ work, such as an image of Kelly and Lisa at the movies with the following text added:
‘Black women felt they were asked to choose between a black movement that served the interests of black male patriarchs and a women’s movement which primarily served the interests of racist white women.’
Not laugh out loud, perhaps, but it’s a bite-sized introduction to hooks’ research and theories. (The focus of much of her work is intersectionality: the idea that we need to consider how oppressions, like sexism and racism, intersect.) Let’s be honest: we’re not all going to wade through feminist academic texts, even the more accessible ones, so anything that spreads feminist thought has to be a good thing.
It’s similar to the Feminist Ryan Gosling meme/blog/book created by writer Danielle Henderson, which she made to make friends on her master’s degree laugh but which became a global phenomenon, because you can’t underestimate not only how much people love the Gos, but how much fun posting feminist theory over pop culture images can be.
It’s also a useful reminder that as awesome as Zack Morris’ phone and Elizabeth Berkley’s hair might have been, Saved by the Bell was pretty problematic in many ways. Lisa was the female character we knew the least about, and the producers were once so desperate to name someone for her to have a crush on, they came up with MC Hammer rather than an age-appropriate white dude. And Jessie Spano was supposed to be a feminist, but never truly triumphed over self-proclaimed ‘chauvinist pig’ Slater. Ugh. We should probably make it a rule that any retro show that wants to make a comeback can only do so with a subversive feminist twist.