Would you be more open to discussions about the public vs. private prison system if they came from the mouth of Rory Gilmore? If so, we recommend this Twitter account. There, you will find that carceral geographer and prison abolitionist Ruth Wilson Gilmore has found an unlikely companion in a certain TV show that shares her name. The concept is simple: Ruth Wilson Gilmore quotes set to stills of Gilmore Girls.
The account was started back in June, when indulging in frivolous TV escapism could potentially make one feel as if they were turning a blind eye to the civil unrest in this country. This account, however, dared to merge radical ideas with cozy entertainment. What if Paris Geller examined the perils of neoliberalism? What if Kirk Gleason was an outspoken abolitionist?
Gilmore Girls, of course, deals more in coffee than issues of mass incarceration and policing. The Mayberry-esque town of Stars Hollow has just one jail cell. In one season, Officer Weston fails to arrest a group of traveling musicians because he’s unable to transport them on his bike. In another instance, Rory is served with 300 hours of community service after stealing a yacht.
Juxtapose such a world with the work of Ruth Wilson Gilmore, an activist specifically concerned with prison abolishment. She’s credited with inventing the study of carceral geography, which aims to examine the complex relationships between institutions and incarceration, and she cofounded, along with Angela Davis, Critical Resistance, an initiative to put an end to the prison industrial complex. Her book, Golden Gulag, which is often referenced on the Ruth Wilson Gilmore Girls page, explores California’s prison buildup.
But why should the two Gilmores be combined? In its bio, @rwgilmoregirls reminds us that “it’s good theory in practice for people engaged in the spectrum of social justice struggles to figure out unexpected sites where their agendas align.” So why not reimagine Emily Gilmore as a radical calling for the dismantling of our police and prison systems? It’s praxis.
It’s somewhat reminiscent of the #WokeCharlotte memes of 2017, which gave the most uptight and rigid Sex and The City character a socially-conscious makeover by pairing stills of her with made up quotes calling out her friends on their offensive behavior. Like #WokeCharlotte, Ruth Wilson Gilmore Girls functions in part as wish fulfillment for those of us who had always thought that Lorelai should have been anti-capitalist.
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