Saying Farewell to Chris Kegel of Wheel & Sprocket

Pamela Hill NettletonArticlesLeave a Comment

Bike photo by Getty Images; Chris Kegel photos courtesy of the Kegel family

For Wheel & Sprocket CEO Chris Kegel, bikes were a vehicle to touch lives and make a difference in the community. Biking wasn’t only Chris Kegel’s business; it was also his life. When his four kids were young, the family biked together weekly, and when it was time for Noel, the eldest, to heat off to college, the entire brood biked the freshman to school. They did a version of that tradition with each Kegel kid. “My mom drove the van, my dad biked with us, and we all did it,” laughs daughter Amelia. No short jaunts to Mount Mary College, either; the student deliveries were to Montreal, Texas, British Columbia, and Montana. “When we arrived at school, other kids … Read More

Love one another?

Pamela Hill NettletonArticlesLeave a Comment

If I love all the selves housed within me, including the flawed, human, insecure ones, then why would I need to hate you? This love one another stuff always confused me. When the priest would call the congregation to love one another during Mass, I was one baffled kid. Although the Bible, Sutras, Quran, Vedas, and Talmud all say the same thing—love is good—every friend of mine was taught that sex was bad. Confusing for a child still 10 years away from studying logic with Jesuits. As near as I could piece together, loving one another didn’t mean, you know, actually loving anyone—that was a sin. Some other kind of loving was the religious kind, but at 8, I could not imagine … Read More

Journalism as an Act of Grace

Pamela Hill NettletonArticlesLeave a Comment

First Published in U.S. Catholic, June 2017 In fourth grade, to Sister Clarita at St. Raphael’s Elementary School, I announced I would be a writer. Had I known about jobs with more status and better pay, I might have announced my intention to become a chief financial officer of a reality television network, but, c’est la vie.  I attended journalism school in the immediate post-Watergate age, at a historic moment when young journalists not only thought their jobs were to save the world, but believed that task could actually be accomplished. There was a passion and fire about breaking important public policy stories, and a real conviction that journalism was a tool for justice and social accord. It was a … Read More

The Media And #MeToo

Pamela Hill NettletonArticlesLeave a Comment

First Published in U.S. Catholic, March 2018 The #MeToo movement, launched by activist Tarana Burke 10 years ago, went viral in October after actress Alyssa Milano and other prominent women publicized it, and after countless women (and a few men) published the hashtag on their social media pages to indicate that they had been sexually harassed or violated at some point in their lives.  This is such a common occurrence in the lives of women that few were startled at the sheer numbers of #MeToo postings. Live long enough while being female, and it will happen to you. #NotMe is a movement that will never catch on. What is different this time is that more men are listening, that accused … Read More

Lost In Space – Again

Pamela Hill NettletonArticlesLeave a Comment

First Published in U.S. Catholic, September 2018 This Time, The Far-Flung Family Is A Lot More Modern Toss a family onto a deserted tropical island—or, say, an uncharted planet in outer space—and see what happens when all social and cultural conventions and pressures are swept away and parents and children are forced to work together to survive.  That was the story arc of Johann David Wyss’s Swiss Family Robinson novel in 1812, which was made into a film twice—Disney in 1960 and New Line Cinema in 1998. Then the Robinsons were reimagined as being shipwrecked not in the East Indies, but in outer space on an uncharted planet in the Lost in Space CBS television series in the 1960s.  A … Read More

Black Panther and Heroism

Pamela Hill NettletonArticlesLeave a Comment

First Published in U.S. Catholic, June 2018 Who gets to be a hero? In ancient Greece, heroes were half god, half human. Comic superheroes followed that classic mold—unlikely, nerdy people with exceptional abilities to leap tall buildings or fly invisible planes, celebrating the potential greatness hidden in mere mortals and making common folk feel as if they, too, might someday rise.  Heroes are products of specific moments in time. Captain America, a WWII U.S. soldier with superpowers, hit print the year of Pearl Harbor. Director Patty Jenkins’ inspiring Wonder Woman shared the same feminist zeitgeist that spawned the #MeToo movement. And, in an era of gun violence killing students in their classrooms and African Americans in their neighborhoods, the Black … Read More

Sally Field, Doris, and Older Women with Younger Men

Pamela Hill NettletonArticlesLeave a Comment

First Published in U.S. Catholic, June 2016 Audiences like Sally Field. They really, really like her. And in her new film, Hello, My Name is Doris (Roadside Attractions, 2016), she ispoignantly human, wonderfully funny, and enormously touching. While she is on the screen, which is nearly constantly, there is nowhere else to look. Field is delightful to watch, but what is not delightful to witness is the cultural assumption, central to the premise of the film, that a young man’s attraction to an older woman is ludicrous. A May-December romance in which the woman is December is so socially incomprehensible that a mere hint of sexual energy between a woman of a certain age and a man who isn’t marks … Read More

Madame Secretary Breaks New Ground

Pamela Hill NettletonArticlesLeave a Comment

First Published in U.S. Catholic, June 2017 Madam Secretary (CBS, in its third season) breaks bold new ground in media portrayals of women leaders: Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord’s friends, family, colleagues, and even the President of the United States treat her as if, in fact, she can lead.  On television and in film, when women are running corporations or countries, they are often portrayed in ways that reinforce tired stereotypes (and fears) about female leadership. Women in power are cast as unnatural, devious villains (Glenn Close’s Patty Hewes in Damages) or unnatural, icy machines (Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood in House of Cards) or unnatural, brittle witches (Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada). “Unnatural” is the key … Read More

Gilmore Girls: More Than Junk Food

Pamela Hill NettletonArticlesLeave a Comment

First Published in U.S. Catholic, December 2016 Oh, to live in Stars Hollow, where crabby but hunky Luke runs the diner, quirky Kirk holds a long string of peculiar jobs, and a single mother and her daughter can be seen as a legitimate and respectable family. On television and in film, single mothers are too often portrayed as hapless victims, struggling to raise children in the absence of a male breadwinner. Media’s single moms live in dismal apartments in gritty neighborhoods, dress like bags of thrift-shop clothing, and seem wearily defeated by life. They have bad posture, bad hair, and bad luck.  In crime shows, they are either slain in a grisly manner in the first five minutes or are … Read More

Anne With An ‘E’ Gets It Right

Pamela Hill NettletonArticlesLeave a Comment

First Published in U.S. Catholic, Dec 2017 Judging by the stories media tell us, boys are the only humans perplexed by puberty. Film and television tales of moving from adolescence to adulthood focus primarily on young men, as though girls did not also lurch awkwardly toward maturity. Think of Boyhood, The Sandlot, Stand By Me, This Boy’s Life, Almost Famous, Big, The Summer of 42, Breaking Away. Building a dramatic narrative around what it’s like for a girl to become a woman is rare. When a program or film defines “becoming a woman” as something complex and nuanced (rather than simply having sex) that is even more rare and delightful.  The 2017 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Netflix series, Anne With … Read More