Newspaper Clipping of LAST Week.

So I’ve been a bit behind the eight ball this week, what with moving to my new digs in Richmond and all. But I thought the time had come to stop staring out the window at my fabulous view of the city and catch up on some work.

This last week’s newspaper clipping comes from Sarah Wilson’s Sunday Life column. In it, she discusses the perils of sitting down with a good book and actually reading it, as opposed to skimming, which the internet has taught us, what with emails, blogs and the infinite amount of useless information out in cyberspace.

In the vein of “slow cooking”, “slow reading” doesn’t involve “reading words at a snail’s pace with a ruler”, but “reading fully… and allowing time for dissecting arguments and reflective response”.

This is something I sometimes struggle with, as I feel there is just so much knowledge to be absorbed, and I’m never going to take it all in. Recently, I had so much on my mind (read: moving house) I managed to read the whole of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest without actually comprehending any of it. Dismal review pending.

In other clippings news, I loved The Age’s resident “Bookmarks”compiler Jason Steger’s take on Bret Easton Ellis’ talk in Melbourne recently. Instead of asking about the “inspiration” behind is disturbed characters, which he famously prefers not to divulge, audience members asked such off-beat questions as, “Who… would win in a tag team wrestling match between Christian Bale and Patrick… Bateman [of American Psycho] and Ellis and James van der Beek, the actor who played Patrick’s brother in the film of Ellis’ novel, The Rules of Attraction.”

No wonder tickets sold out in seven minutes!

Sex, Drugs & Jolie.

 

Keep in mind I’m writing this on Sunday morning, before the new weekly gossip magazines come out on Monday, so I am prepared to eat my words if they contradict what I’m about to theorise: the Angelina Jolie sex and drugs scandal won’t hurt her career in the slightest. It probably won’t hurt her personal life, either, but only time will tell.

Sure, the first two weeks after the scandal broke, Jolie was all over the magazine covers and blogs, with “inside sources” claiming it could spell the end of her partnership with Brad Pitt.

And now, over a month later, the tabloids are reporting that Jolie dazzled on the red carpet for the premiere of Salt, in which she dressed up as a man (Who’s cover story this week), and how she stuck up for Jennifer Aniston regarding her comments about single motherhood. Not a mention anywhere about Andrew Morton’s tell all book, which spawned the lesbian bondage pictures and drug use revelations.

Jolie is not a stranger to shocking tabloid headlines, like making out with her brother, wearing a vial of ex Billy Bob Thornton’s blood around her neck and breaking up the marriage of America’s golden couple, Pitt and Aniston. Who’s to know how these indignities affected her personally, but publicly, she has taken them in her stride, just as she has the most recent exposé.

Everyone knows Jolie as the wild-child-makes-good; a juxtaposition of humanitarian with home wrecker; serious actress with sex and drug addict. This is just another chink in her armour that makes up the multifaceted enigma that is Angelina Jolie.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

It’s hard out there for a pimp male model. MamaMia profiles “Male Models. Inside Their Straaaange World”, and how images of “buffed” and “ripped” men on magazine covers might affect male body image.

Hannah Montana is the superhero of the modern generation.

“Freelancing means being so poor and so hungry for so long that you ‘eat’ a bowl of soup that’s just hot water, crushed-up multivitamins and half your spice rack…”according to Richard Morgan, in “Seven Years as a Freelance Writer, or How to Make Vitamin Soup”.

Sex in the Digital City writer, Kitty Tonkin, details how she unplugged her iPod on public transport and had a good, old-fashioned conversation with an elderly man on the train. He talked about the old days, and the kinds of values they had back then. While some of his views were certainly outdated (“women need to learn and remember that it’s a man’s role to fish”), Mystery Train Man did drop such gems of wisdom as “feminism has warped views in society” and “romance is so cheap [wine, fish and chips overlooking the ocean] people have no excuse”.

Rachel Zoe literally “dies” for US Harper’s Bazaar. Death by Marc Jacobs? Yes please!

Tiger Beatdown has some interesting views on the “Love The Way You Lie” video. While I think both the song and the film clip accurately portray the cycle of domestic violence, author Garland Grey asserts that both glamorise the situation. View the video and the article, and you be the judge.

Any LOSTies out there still mourning the end of the series? io9 hits it right on the head in “12 Theories About Lost That Were Better Than the Actual Show”, acknowledging that half the fun of watching the show was formulating our own hypotheses about its mysteries.

The Thought Experiment writes about “the cinematic discourse established by director Rob Luketic employs the consistent rhetorical metonymical device of synecdoche to psychologically reinforce the theme of a woman’s appearance…” in Legally Blonde. Or, in layman terms, the film deals with “the constant breaking of the women down in to digestible parts when they are focussed on Warner. This is important because, to a man like that character, taken as a whole, what are we ladies? Too much to chew on, it seems.” Great article.

While our country might be in the midst of a hung parliament, Mia Freedman exerts her feminist stance on the issue in her profile of Julia Gillard: “Would she describe herself as a feminist? ‘I would. All my life I’ve believed that men and women have equal capacities and talents. That means that there are as many smart women as there are smart men and it means there are as many dumb women as there are dumb men. So we’re equal and consequently there should be equality in life’s chances.” Now go bag that Prime Ministership, Julia! (You can also read Freedman’s journey to interview Gillard here.)

Jezebel loves herself some Mad Men. This time around, the feminist blog profiles the show’s stance on “The Psychology of Women”.

Elsewhere, on the “psychology of men” stratosphere, “Can Superheroes Hurt Boys’ Mental Health?” When I said to a male friend that I wasn’t really into superheroes, he said I mustn’t have any daddy issues, ’cause people with daddy issues love superheroes. Well, I have no shortage of daddy issues, and I am dressing as Cat Woman for my Halloween/birthday party, so I guess that proves his point. And so does the article.

Johnny Depp has pulled of many a character, which is no mean feat. The fact that he’s managed to be “doable in pretty much every role is an even bigger accomplishment”.

Once again, women just can’t win. The latest study to prove this shows that “men whose wives make more money than they do are more likely to cheat”. Take a bow, Jesse James, Ryan Phillippe et al.

Men in Fiction: My Most Loved Made-Up Males.

Last week I featured my favourite fictional females, and this week I thought I’d give the guys a go.

In the vein of Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, her father Atticus is way up there. He represents “the father figure I never had”, guiding Scout, her brother Jem, and their friend Dil through the last summer of their naïve childhood and how judging a book by it’s cover (or skin colour) is not the way to go. Plus, he has a kick ass name!

Similar to my obsession with To Kill a Mockingbird is my love of Dominick Dunne and any of his books, specifically Another City, Not My Own, in which Dunne’s alter-ego Gus Bailey acts as the fictional narrator of Dunne’s real-life O.J. Simpson trial experiences. It is hard to separate the two men, which is what I love about Dunne’s stories; a reader familiar with Dunne’s experiences doesn’t know where real-life ends and fiction begins.

Every fan of Friends has a favourite character, and mine has always been Chandler Bing. He gets the funniest storylines, and Matthew Perry has great comedic timing. There are many episodes I could ramble on about, but my two favourite Chandler moments are when Phoebe attempts to seduce him into admitting his relationship with Monica, and when Chandler kicks up a stink about Joey stealing his chair before Ross’s benefit, and in a check-mate move, Joey puts on every item of clothing in Chandler’s possession, quipping in true Chandler fashion, “Could I be wearing any more clothes?”

It’s been a Disney-centric year, what with Beauty & the Beast about to be re-released in 3D, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performing Disney songs in December (which I’m so going to, FYI), the first African American Disney Princess in the lacklustre The Princess & the Frog, and the much anticipated release of Toy Story 3, with one of my all-time favourite characters, Woody. The pull-string sheriff is inspirational in that he’ll never “leave a man behind”, he exists primarily for the pleasure of his owner, Andy, but discovers that there’s more to life, like making friends and other people happy, than what he thought his true purpose was; to be with Andy. I loved the third instalment of the saga, but it can never top the first one. So quotable, so timeless, so child-at-heart. ♥

Other inspirational men of fiction include Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon; Shia LaBeouf’s character in Disturbia, and the character who inspired him, L.B. Jeffries from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window; Fiver, Bigwig and Hazel from Watership Down; Woody’s space ranger counterpart, Buzz Lightyear; the Beast in Beauty & the Beast; and Holden Caulfield in A Catcher in the Rye.

Ex-Factor: Matthew Newton.

 

Earlier in the year, I wrote about (male) celebrities like Matthew Newton and Matthew Johns becoming hosts of television shows, despite their questionable behaviour in their private lives, which became very public.

It is no secret that I feel very strongly about the issue of famous men being rewarded for their indiscretions because “he’s such a nice guy” or “he plays that sport we like”, despite the fact that they are a known wife-beater and drug-addict (Newton) or have been implicated in a group sex scandal with their team-mates, which the woman involved later alleged wasn’t consensual (Johns).

I expressed my disdain for the situation at my workplace yesterday: “what does this guy have that makes beautiful, talented, successful women go after him when he is a known abuser?” One colleague replied that it’s not Rachael Taylor (his most recent ex-girlfriend who filed the claims) nor Brooke Satchwell’s (the first ex to cry assault) faults, which she thought I was insinuating, but let me make myself very clear, if I haven’t already: UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS IT THE VICTIM’S FAULT. But seriously, I will ask the above question again: What does Newton have that makes beautiful, talented, successful women go after a known abuser? And what’s more, why would Seven hire him to host The X Factor, due to debut in less than a week, when he has expressed unreliability in the past.

I personally don’t think celebrities with addictions should be thrust back into work straight after attending rehab, or in the case of Lindsay Lohan, jail to boot. Addicts need time away from the stressors of everyday life and the entertainment industry, if that is their chosen field, in order to fully recuperate and overcome their demons.

Mia Freedman also commented on the incident, asking “what should Channel 7 do” with The X Factor’s already-filmed footage, which Newton is “all over”? “When will we stop enabling celebrities to behave in utterly unacceptableand possibly criminalways? And rewarding them if we think they’ll bring ratings?” Freedman asks.

But is The X Factor really aimed at a family audience? With Newton, who was given the hosting gig around the time he was admitted to rehab earlier this year, Kyle Sandilands, a shock-jock who is constantly in hot-water for putting his foot in his mouth, and Ronan Keating, who was recently embroiled in a cheating scandal, the show’s stars aren’t exactly family friendly.

Related: Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do? Host a Seven Family Show.

Why Are Forgiven for Their Wrongdoings, While Women Are Vilified for Much Less?

Elsewhere: [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Reblogged: No Words For What Hurts.

[Tiger Beatdown] I HATE I Love the Way You Lie.

Profile: Sarah Ayoub of Wordsmith Lane.

 

In The Scarlett Woman’s first profile, I interview Wordsmith Lane and Chasing Aphrodite creator Sarah Ayoub about blogging, brides and books.

How long have you been blogging at Wordsmith Lane and what made you decide to start a blog?

The idea came to me in June 2009, and the blog officially launched (if you will) in July 2010. I decided to start a blog because I wanted to do something when I was not writing, especially because I was no longer working full-time and I sort of wanted to chronicle my writing journey.

What has been your proudest writing-related achievement to date?

It’s hard to say. Getting published in madison was a high for me, because it is what I consider a high-brow women’s publication. I guess being asked to be a host/panellist at events held by organisations like the Walkley Foundation and The Emerging Writer’s festivals was also a massive achievement for me.

And your proudest non-writing achievement?

This is going to sound silly, but getting engaged! I tend to worry about commitment.

How are preparations going for your wedding?

They are, I must say, proceeding very well considering the timing. I am indebted to my sisters though. My advice to everyone is to send out invites via email, or at least don’t go the DIY option. It’s a pain in the butt. I really wanted to have a big Lebanese wedding, but this one seems to be going along more to my parents’ agenda than my own. Serves me right for being their first born!

How did your appointment to bridal blogger for Bride to Be come about?

I basically pitched the idea to them and they bought it. It was as simple as that, which is why I try to be encouraging to my blog readers. Anything can happen if you try.

Your name has popped up on some other blogs (namely Musings of an Inappropriate Woman) in relation to workaholism and the work/life balance. How do you balance all your commitments?

I don’t. Something always gives out, like nights in front of the TV or deadlines for my thesis. I don’t have the time management thing down pat yet, and considering the size of my family, I don’t have a lot of time to myself either. I am hoping things will settle down a little after the wedding.

What is your favourite way to unwind?

Reading. Watching movies in my PJs and eating copious amounts of food works wonders.

Because most bloggers blog about things they’re passionate about, as I know both you and I do, do you find sometimes it’s a chore to churn out articles, book reviews and the like, as previously you would do those things for pleasure? Because that’s definitely something I struggle with from time to time.

I guess my readers can tell when I do something for pleasure because I gush about it, whether it’s a book or make-up and I do think I come across as fairly honest. If it’s not something I am interested in, it doesn’t get a review. Just a mention that it’s out and what it’s supposed to be about. I definitely think I should perhaps cut down to blogging about quality though. I really need to prioritise, as the blog doesn’t really provide a return investment for me at this stage, and there are some more pressing things to worry about, like my thesis, my freelancing and definitely my novel.

What are some of your favourite blogs?

I read Girl with a Satchel religiously, and follow Rachel Hills because she makes me feel smart. Once or twice a week, I read The Blog Stylist, Sarah Wilson and Holly J Curtis’ Am I There Yet? I’ve just got onto Nicole Haddow’s blog after a reader recommended it to me and I read Megan Burke’s Literary Life (she is my intern and she blogs about the creative writing industry which is good for me, as I’d like to get into it soon). And I love the way Liv Hambrett writes at A Big Life. I think I am her biggest fan, and I doubt that she knows how talented she is. She literally makes me see the world through different coloured glasses.

What advice do you have for other bloggers?

Write, network and comment on other blogs. Shamelessly promote on Twitter. And do it for love not money, at least in the beginning. It’s a lot of hard work.

And finally, where do you see yourself, writing-wise, in the future?

My dream job would be able to live off freelancing as a full-time features writer, while working on my novels in between and maybe doing something once a week on TV or radio. That’s not necessarily where I see myself, as opposed to where I would like to see myself.

In Defence of Barbie.

Last week I posted a story about my favourite fictional females, and Barbie was one of them.

Granted, she’s not exactly fictional, but she’s by no means “real”, and doesn’t represent real women in any way. So much so that if Barbie were alive, she would be so underweight she wouldn’t be able to menstruate, and so out of proportion that she would fall over.

These factors aside, I loved Barbie as a kid. Still do. Being as innocent and ignorant as children are, I was oblivious to the fact that Barbie is allegedly a bad role model for kids. Sure, I often wished I was blonde haired and blue eyed like Barbie (which probably stemmed from both my mother and younger sister possessing these traits, and me feeling like the odd one out), but mostly Barbie instilled in me the ideal that I could be anyone I wanted to be.

Hello?! Barbie has had such occupations as a teacher (in nine different subjects, no less!), doctor, police and army officer, astronaut, ballerina, gymnast and even a McDonald’s employee, amongst many, many others (see the full list here).

Of course, some of these occupations required Barbie to rely on her looks (Baywatch lifeguard, model), but most of her occupations require legitimate skills in real life. And also in real life, some jobs do depend on workers’ appearances.

Barbie also acts as a blank canvas for young girls (and boys) to project their ideals onto her. Most times I played Barbies with my sister, we often put our dolls in high school situations. When the aforementioned Baywatch Barbie came out, with an accompanying dolphin toy, we transformed the bathroom into the beach. Even as I got older, my teenage friends and I used our Barbies as art projects and pop culture experiments. I remember a certain Michael Jackson version of Ken that totally kicked butt!

I changed my mind several times as I grew up about what I wanted to be when I actually did grow up, and Barbie came on that journey with me. From violinist, to vet, to actress to journalist (I wonder if there will be a blogger Barbie in the future…?), Barbie was there, helping me craft out my ambitions and, like, what I would wear.

Yes, Barbie is unrealistically beautiful and thin and leads a charmed life, but this doesn’t govern how she is perceived by little girls (and, again, boys) and how they play with her. She may serve as a guinea pig for Toy Story’s Sid-like torture, a model for the latest buzz-cut á la an aspiring hair-dresser, “a happy hetero, a lipstick lez, or a bitchin’ CEO” (my preference was for the power-suited latter), a way to express juvenile sexual interest while her owner remains a “good girl” (which perhaps contributes to the negative perception surrounding the doll), or remain exactly as Mattel intended her to be: an immaculate representation of femininity. And that’s okay.

Primarily, I think, again, that Barbie allows girls to be whoever they want to be. I don’t necessarily think young girls have a clear-cut perception of the perfection Barbie represents in the grown-up world; for them, she’s just a cool doll with a fab convertible, ever-changing wardrobe and a resume that will get her where she wants to go. Importantly, too, Ken is not a deciding factor in her life, and Barbie will do whatever she wants with or without the approval of the man in her life. And now that she’s divorced, perhaps she doesn’t need or want a man in her life at all.Maybe I’m just lucky; the presence of Barbie and exposure to pop-cultural representations of “traditional” femininity in my life at a young and susceptible age, I feel, has enriched my life rather than hindered the development of a healthy body image. Who can say what factors contribute to food, weight and body image issues in young (and old) women alike? I know I definitely can’t put my finger on the defining aspects in my life that have allowed me to think critically and actively about such things. But I do think a little too much emphasis is conveniently placed on Barbie as the culprit.

Related: Women in Fiction—My Favourite Fictional Females.

Is There Really a Beauty Myth?

Elsewhere: [Yahoo! Answers] What Would Barbie’s Measurements Be If She Were a Real Person?

[Wikipedia] Barbie’s Careers.

[Greteman] In Defence of Barbie.

On the (Rest of the Net).

If you’re into music, especially the live Melbourne scene, make sure you check out my friend Linzie Meager’s newly launched blog, What Are You Listening To?

Lena Chen says “fuck feminism”. I have to say I agree with most of her statements, and sometimes I get sick of talking about gender politics. Her argument is that feminism doesn’t represent all females equally, especially women of colour and those who belong to the LGBT community.

If only we could all look this chic and quirky at the airport. Gala Darling pairs combat boots with an electric blue knit by Betsey Johnson “En Route to San Francisco”.

Who’s sick of Lady Gaga? Not me, but apparently Gawker is. I do agree that Gaga needs to lay off the reinvention shtick, however. The article also argues that she needs to churn out some new music ASAP.

Still with Gawker, they assert that “Starlets Need to Stop Dressing Up Like Other Starlets for Photo Shoots”, with an impressive roll call that includes Lindsay Lohan as everyone, everyone as Marilyn Monroe and Jennifer Aniston as Barbra Streisand on the most recent cover of US Harper’s Bazaar.

I think the burqa debate is an interesting one; one I don’t necessarily agree with. I don’t think that Islamic women should be forced to wear them, but it is certainly not the government of the Western world’s place to ban them. MamaMia brings light to the subject, asking if the “Burqa is as ‘Confronting’ as Leggings Worn as Pants”? Certainly not! Nor is it more confronting than (Prime Minister come tomorrow night?) Tony Abbott in budgie smugglers!

Meanjin’s blog Spike features a post “On Writing and Running”… or blogging and jogging, as I like to call it. Guess I’m on the right track, then. (Geddit?!)

“Like, OMG, you guys!” Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a product of my generation (or the generation below me, perhaps?). But Jezebel reasons that those who favour “like”, “you know” and “whatever” picked up such fetching colloquialisms from ’90s teen angst drama, My So-Called Life. If you haven’t heard of it, you should so, like, research it, you know? If not, whatever.

Here with more Daria goodness, The Paris Review asks “Are We Afraid of Daria?”

All the single ladies men, take note: there’s a difference between “nice guys” and “total creeps”. (Double standards?) For example, nice guys will pay you “a normal compliment” like, “You look great today”. Creeps will say “things like, ‘You look imaginary’… Did he mean to say something else? Does he know what ‘imaginary’ means?” Gold!

Continuing on from the Facebook versus women issue, Psychology Today ran a great article entitled “Cutting Off Your Vagina to Spite Your Face(book)”. Aside from the genius title, it deals with the deletion of a sexual education Facebook page about female genital mutilation.

Review: Time Magazine’s “What Animals Think” Issue—August 16, 2010.

 

I’m a sucker for a puppy, which adorns this week’s Time cover.

And the accompanying article, “Inside the Minds of Animals” by Jeffrey Kluger, doesn’t disappoint.

It opens with the author’s “coffee date” with Kanzi, a talking bonobo with a vocabulary of officially 384 words, “though he probably knows dozens more”. Kanzi is able to asks for hugs and kisses, which he likes, and understand the concept of pointing which, aside from humans, really only dogs “understand innately” and “seems simple, but only because we’re born with the ability”, which bonobos are not. Kanzi also understands tenses in words (“concept words like from and later”), which is a breakthrough in itself, aside from the fact that AN ANIMAL IS SPEAKING!

The article asserts that humans treat animals differently because they can’t “understand” and are possibly not even conscious (potentially the butterfly, cockroach and bivalve [oysters, muscles, clams]); but now that certain species are mastering human language how does our perception of them change?

Most agree that dolphins and great apes are the smart ones, being able to recognise their image in a mirror, which indicates a degree of social awareness, in addition to social carnivores like pack dogs. The proof is in the pudding when it comes to some of the experiments the article mentions, as well as in everyday life in the example of aid dogs. I was particularly touched by the mourning expressed by elephants when one of their herd dies, and the “respect” they exhibit “when they encounter elephant bones, gently examining them, paying special attention to the skull and tusks”.

But don’t just take my word for it; pick up a copy for yourself or see the online extract. Trust me, food for though.

Elsewhere: [Time] Inside the Minds of Animals.