No prizes for guessing who shot this borderline-porn cover for the June 2009 edition of Rolling Stone. Okay, I’ll give you a hint: he’s been the buzz of The Early Bird Catches the Worm this week. No? Terry “Pedophile” Richardson of GQ/Glee fame.
So this weekend is Halloween, which just so happens to be my birthday (technically, it’s November 2), and for the third year running I am throwing a Halloween party. Most of my guests’ costumes will be a surprise to me, but I’ve had my heart set on Catwoman since the beginning of the year, and everyone knows it. And what better to inspire me than these different incarnations of Batman’s foe? And a special thanks to my friend Suzie, who dressed as one of the hottest Catwomen I’ve seen!
A new discovery of mine, Millennials Mag, publishes quirky, up-to-the-minute features on everything from Mad Men to youth crises to Lindsay Lohan. In fact, here’s one on Lindsay, as well as the hilarious “Bylines & Boyfriends” and “The Myth of the Plugged In Millennial”:
“Do you find that you have friends your age who still don’t understand blogs/blogging? And that it’s actual work/writing?… In a way it’s like, really dispiriting, because I have friends who still can’t understand why I’m a journalism major if I don’t want to work for The New York Times… Like I have a friend who wants to be a fashion blogger, but told me she would never get a Twitter account… Well they will clearly never be a blogger…”
Gah! I guess I’ll never be a blogger then, either. Oh wait, I am! Twitter Schmitter (Shitter?).
Rachel Hills discusses the (pop) cultural virtues of Sweet Valley High, and how Gossip Girl relates to real-life. I particularly like the latter, as it deals with the breakdown of friendships, which is something I’m dealing with at the moment. Hills says:
“… When I think about my own anger, about grudges I’ve been unable to let go of, often it has little to do with the original offence. Instead, it’s about a residual feeling I can’t get rid of, a new framework I’ve built up in my head…”
Halloween is just around the corner (more on that to come later today/next week), and Gala Darling ventured to the 20th Annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade. Check out the dressed-up dogs that were out in full force. And while you’re there, see her case for adopting rescue animals.
Betty Talk’s musings on “Western Feminism & Global Gender Justice” harkens back to the Feminism Has Failed debate I attended about a month ago, in that “Western feminists are characterised by being somewhat ethnocentric,” and trying to prevent genital mutilation in some lesser-developed parts of the world, for example, is a little bit ignorant when such societies have “practised these customs for centuries”.
Becky Sharper, on The Pursuit of Harpyness, discusses The Guardian journalist Sarah Churchwell’s rant on Bridget Jones and how the myth of the single girl stereotype affects actual single girls.
Published two years ago, Racialicious’s Latoya Peterson ponders “The Not Rape Epidemic” in the form of her own sexual assault when she was fourteen. Powerful stuff.
MamaMia defends Helen Mirren’s right to bare breasts. When you look that good at 64, all I have to say is: you go, girl!
Mad Men’s Betty Francis (nee Draper) exemplifies the cycle of abuse on Tiger Beatdown.
In a similar vein, the consensus circulating around the blogosphere is that Hugh Hefner is to blame for all that is wrong in the world today, which is an issue I beg to differ on, however it’s not all Playmates and flamingos at the Playboy Mansion, either, according to The Washington Times.
It has never been a better time to be an out-and-proud gay man, in my opinion. This is evidenced by all my straight and single friends who are also desperate and dateless (myself included!), while my gay friends flourish in the dating world, with the added bonus of the iPhone app Grindr. If only the straight folk had an online dating service to present potential suitors to us—oh wait, we do. It’s called online dating, which still has a stigma attached to it (if the disappearance and suspected murder of Zara Baker, whose stepmother—whom her father met online—is a suspect, is anything to go by), the likes of which Grindr has never seen.
The Age’s A2 supplement’s writer, Adam Carey, seems to have picked up on the “porn-chic” movement that’s sweeping the fashion industry, and thus, popular culture.
Following on from Monday’s “Disturbing Behaviour” post about Terry Richardson’s take on Glee, Carey profiles Acclaim magazine’s latest cover, which features porn stars Justine Joli and Ryan Kelly, as well as Oyster’s Faye Reagan (FYI, also a porn star).
Porn is the new black, it seems, with everyone from Naomi Wolf to the arty, high-fashion mags throwing their two cents in. That means one thing’s for sure: “In the end, sex sells. But only for as long as we’re all buying.”
And I don’t see that coming to an end anytime soon. So, porn it is!
Following on from last week’s controversial episode, this week’s Glee deals with the students pairing off into couples for “Duets”. All except Kurt, of course, who is unable to find a partner, not only to sing with, but also to be with in the romantic sense.
This theme is timely after the suicide of gay teen Tyler Clementi, who was filmed having sex with another man by his roommate, who was then going to broadcast the footage online, and the subsequent campaigning by Ellen DeGeneres and her fellow celebrities to stop gay bullying, and that life does get better.
Kurt expresses interest in duetting with the new kid, Sam, but Finn warns him against it, as the “ensuing beatings” will force Sam out of glee. Of course, Kurt thinks Finn still has issues with his homosexuality, but Finn retorts that they live in a (homophobic) man’s, man’s, man’s world, and breaks out the “no means no” shtick.
Later on, Burt Hummel, who is out of the hospital after last week’s stint in ICU, reiterates Finn’s sentiments, and Kurt asks, “So a gay guy can’t be friendly to a straight guy without it being predatory… You’re saying I shouldn’t sing with this Sam guy because it might upset a couple [of] homophobes?”
The episode also deals with the other kinds of pairings the glee club members engage in. There’s Brittany and Santana, whose lesbian relationship is taken to new levels this week when they’re shown kissing on screen; the proverbial straights, Rachel and Finn and Sam and Quinn; the (perhaps stereotypical) strong black women, Mercedes and Santana, singing “River Deep, Mountain High”; the “Asians”, Tina and Mike, who are having relationship issues and will attend “Asian couples therapy”; and the sensitive issue of Artie’s disability, how it relates to his sex life, and his deflowering by Brittany in this episode.
Thus, this leaves us with loner Kurt, who has more than enough personality and pizzazz to pull off “‘Le Jazz Hot!’ from Victor/Victoria” and steals the show.
Kurt is a strong enough character that he doesn’t let his peers’ (albeit not is glee club peers) discrimination get to him, and thus he comes across as a teenager who has the courage of his convictions to stay true to himself, a stance which can only serve to encourage and enable other young people struggling with their sexuality to stand up and own it.
Oh, and in a rare show of compassion, Rachel offers to do a duet with Kurt in the final scene, asserting that they’re more alike than they think. Perhaps a straight wife-gay husband relationship to rival Carrie Bradshaw and Stanford Blatch is blooming?
The following is based on a 2006 uni essay I wrote about the camera as an intruder, so sorry for any overly academic phrasing. I have attempted to bring it into the modern day with less formal language after reading an article on Jezebel, “The Day I Trailed a Paparazzi” in which—what else?—one of the blog’s writers trailed a paparazzo for a day.
Is the camera an intruder? Some would say that, in this day and age, with advanced photographic technology and increased access by photojournalists to worldwide events, it is. However, others assert that because of this advanced photographic technology and increased access, paired with the public’s growing need, and right, to know and see, that the camera it is not.
In terms of the cult of celebrity and the growing phenomenon of the paparazzi, privacy is a major issue. Peter Howe, in his book Paparazzi, provides this definition of the occupation:
“It refers to those photographers who seek out and follow celebrities… in order to photograph them in their most unguarded moments. In short, it’s taking photographs you shouldn’t take in places you shouldn’t be”.
However, some might argue that in becoming a movie star or rock star, and thereby a celebrity, you give up your right to privacy. Privacy laws in the US, specifically in Los Angeles where most paparazzi dwell, state that “if the subject of the photograph can reasonably expect privacy in a specific situation, such as inside his home, photographs of such situations cannot be published without permission”. And, as is evident in any glossy tabloid, most paparazzi shots are taken in public places, such as shopping strips and restaurants. “The consensus of opinion among the paparazzi is that the celebrities get the privacy they deserve, and that if you really don’t want to be photographed, then you don’t go to eat at Mr. Chows or the Ivy, where there are always photographers,” says Howe.
French theorist Roland Barthes states that “people change when they’re aware they’re being photographed.” So “when long lenses can ‘trespass’”, “the traditional definitions of privacy may not apply”.
The paparazzi are viewed as the most morally and ethically irresponsible photographer in the business but, “if everyone hates their work, why are they the best-paid and busiest photojournalists in the world?” asks Howe.
Our obsession with celebrity has only grown since I originally wrote this article back in 2006, a time which was already seeing the tabloid market explode, causing “the number of paparazzi to quadruple”, explains co-owner of L.A. paparazzi firm Bauer and Griffin, Randy Bauer, in an article from Cosmopolitan that same year.
Increasingly, blogs have become the stratosphere through which paparazzi pics circulate, however magazines still pay the big bucks. The first pictures of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and their adopted son Maddox on a beach in Africa sold for $100,000; a far cry from the $6.68 million People magazine paid for the exclusive photographs of Pitt, Jolie and their first biological child, Shiloh.
In the five years since Pitt & Jolie got together and were hunted by the paparazzi (Wagner, a paparazzo who participated in a story on Jezebel, asserts that family pics of the couple are still the highest fetching shots), reality TV has reached its pinnacle, with celebs like Kim Kardashian milking their celebrity for all its worth; sad sacks like Lindsay Lohan and Heidi Montag tipping off the paparazzi in order to sell shots of themselves and keep their names in the media; and those in a league of their own, like Lady Gaga, whose song “Paparazzi” and albums “The Fame” and “The Fame Monster” take the piss out of the very machine that made them and creating a new definition of the über-celebrity/icon.
As above, though, the paparazzi are predominantly viewed in a negative light, not only by serious art photographers and the general public but, obviously, the stars they photograph. Kristen Stewart, for example, is one star who has been vocal in her dislike for the paparazzi; those in opposition to her stance might use the argument above, that to have success in the acting world is to accept the constant presence of photographers. Especially when you’re one half of the most talked about couple since the Jolie-Pitts. Elsewhere, the Jezebel article, written by Dodai Stewart, has a focus on Michael Douglas, who is receiving treatment for throat cancer, and the unremitting swarm of photographers outside his house every day. Is hounding a sick man taking our obsession with celebrity too far? American author and journalist Nathaniel Parker Willis says that, “the idea [is] that to really know someone, we must know their private life”.
From the Cosmo article: “[the paparazzi] can make celebrities feel anxious, depressed, and even mildly agoraphobic” That explains the notorious picture of Cameron Diaz, with then-boyfriend Justin Timberlake, attacking a paparazzo, then!
But, increasingly celebs are embracing the paparazzi, realising that if they work in cooperation with them, their public lives will be less tumultuous.
Stewart relays her story about Wagner trailing Liev Schreiber and his son with Naomi Watts, into the subway. After talking to the subject for several minutes, Wagner tells Schreiber that he’s “gotta get a picture of you”, and “Liev said sure, put the kid on his shoulders and let Wagner snap away… No other photographers were around, so it’s an exclusive shot.” Wagner gets paid, Schreiber comes across as a cool family man; it’s a win-win situation.
Celebs with kids can get a bit weird about them being photographed, understandably, and in the same article, when Wagner encounters Watts with the kids, she kindly asks him not to take pictures, and he obliged. See, Hollywood dwellers? There’s no need to get violent with the paps. (Granted, the pics of Schreiber and Watts were taken in New York City, where the paparazzi scene is less brutal than in Los Angeles, and there seems to be a certain air of respect between subject and object.)
Other NYC dwellers such the cunning Sarah Jessica Parker, have some up with ways of making themselves less desirable targets:
“‘[SJP] wears the same thing everyday,’” he [Wagner] says. ‘On purpose. Because you talk about this today, then she wears it tomorrow, then what do you have to say? Nothing.’”
There is almost an element of protection there, too: provided both parties behave themselves and there exists a certain professional relationship, when your every move is recorded on camera, it’s got to be mighty hard to be mugged or attacked. Although, the victims of Alexis Neiers and her young-Hollywood burglary bling ring probably don’t subscribe to this school of thought.
Still, the opinion among the stars, the paps and the consumers who view their snaps on blogs and in magazines and newspapers, is that celebrities need the paparazzi to generate publicity around them, and the paps need to earn a buck. “An interdependency develops between them,” says Howe.
Stewart sums the cycle up nicely:
“We’re interested in celebrity minutiae. Despite ourselves. It is possible to be fascinated and repulsed at the same time. You can find celebrities appealing while finding the gossip culture appalling. We buy the magazines, hate them for lying to us, critique them, laugh at them, talk about them with our friends and buy the magazines again the next week. If you’ve ever read a gossip site or flipped through a celebrity weekly, you’re part of the system: the paparazzi take pictures for the mags and blogs, the mags and blogs exist because there is an audience.”
Hugo Schwyzer’s vintage (does 2007 count as vintage?) blog post about the “anti-fag” culture amongst young men is more relevant today than ever. It’s very thought provoking, and I thoroughly recommend it.
Here, some choice excerpts:
“… boys chronically used their access to girls’ bodies as a way of establishing credentials and escaping the ‘fag’ label.”
“When not in groups—when in one-on-one interactions with boys or girls—boys were much less likely to engage in gendered and sexed domination practices. In this sense boys became masculine in groups…”
Sounds mighty interesting when put in the context of gang rape and group sex, doesn’t it, Matthew Johns? Mia Freedman deals with the issues of group sex and consent in her most recent Sunday Life column. Well worth a read, also.
“… women’s bodies are used as yardsticks for men to measure their manliness. When boys brag about their sexual conquests, or pressure young women for sex in order to have a story to tell ‘the guys’, it is women who are the chief victims of the fag discourse.”
Shades of this theory can be seen in Easy A, the premise of which is a girl who agrees to say she had sex with her gay male friend in order to ease his high-school torment. Looking at the storyline in relation to Schwyzer’s article makes me view the film in a different light. Maybe “not doing it but saying you did”, which is Easy A’s tagline, isn’t so much about young women being confident in their sexual selves regardless of their sexual experiences as it is about women succumbing to the patriarchy of “fag culture”.
“Women are harassed, assaulted, and taunted because we are raising generation after generation of young boys that sees no better way to establish their manhood than by demonstrating their ability to impose their will on the bodies of their female peers.”
Workmen wolf-whistling as a woman walks past, much?
Last weekend’s The Age supplement, A2, was jammed packed full of goodness (check out “Newspaper Clipping of the Week” later in the week), including a feature on the recent spate of fairytale-inspired exhibitions.
One of the exhibitions talked about in the article is the Bendigo Art Gallery’s “Looking for Faeries: The Victorian Tradition”, which I saw yesterday, and ACMI’s “Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney’s Classic Fairy Tales”, about the fairytales adapted for the screen by Walt Disney, with the groundbreaking (for the Time) Snow White & the Seven Dwarves being a key component.
As you know, I can’t get enough of my Disney princesses, especially the constant discourse surrounding their affect on young girls, so this passage from the article took my fancy:
“In the past, and particularly in the 1950s, Disney fairytale heroes and, above all, heroines, were insubstantial figures, despite their predicaments, and energy and comedy were provided by the sidekicks—the dwarves in Snow White, for example. You can see a change in 1991’s witty, thoroughly engaging Beauty & the Beast: Belle was a more dynamic heroine than Snow White, and there was a character in the film who thought he was a handsome prince, but definitely wasn’t—the vain and vicious Gaston.
“[Tangled producer Roy] Conli credits John Lasseter, producer, director and chief creative officer at Disney/Pixar, for an insistence that central characters have to be the emotional and the comic core of a film. So, Rapunzel, the girl with 20 metres of blonde hair—who has been shut up in a tower her whole life, or, “like, grounded, like, forever”—isn’t simply set free, end of story. In Tangled, she has a male counterpart, a foil, he says, a worldly, dashing thief called Flynn Rider whose adventure of discovery takes place alongside hers.
“… Whatever we make of these new fairytale dynamics, whether we regard them as retrograde or progressive, misguided or inventive… fairytales are often more appealing to adults than children.”
Perhaps that’s why I still can’t get enough of Belle… and it’s nice to see a modern-day Rapunzel adopting, like, a modern-day vernacular.
Über-inappropriate fashion photographer Terry Richardson has done it again, using his magic creepy touch on the cast of Glee—or rather, the most vanilla cast members from Glee, Cory Monteith (Finn Hudson), Dianna Agron (Quinn Fabray) and Lea Michele (Rachel Berry)—to turn them into “porny” high schoolers to rival Britney Spears in “Baby, One More Time” (which Michele did a cover of, complete with schoolgirl tartan and feathers in her hair, on the “Britney/Brittany” episode) for the November cover of GQ.
Seriously, when will people stop employing him to work with subjects who, granted, aren’t underage but portray underage characters on a family show, when he is a known predator of underage and vulnerable women?
And does anyone else find Michele extremely offputting, in more ways than one? Or is it just me?
I’ve been wanting to write a post on Overthinking It’s “Female Character Flowchart” since I saw it on both Jezebel and Musings of an Inappropriate Woman about two weeks ago, and the time has finally come I’ve finally gotten around to compiling a list of my favourite fictional female characters and whether they qualify as “strong” ones.
Without compromising the quality of the image, I wasn’t able to enlarge the chart, nor add my own annotations as per the below characters of my choosing. Instead, I’ve reproduced their equations below, as well as Mean Girls’ Regina George, who appears on the chart, and Blair Waldorf, whom Rachel Hills believes is a “girl Hitler”, but who I find to be much more of a genuine strong female character.
Regina George (Mean Girls): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? NO. Villain? YES. Sexualised? NO. (I would argue yes. Hello? Have you seen her Halloween getup?) Over 35? NO. Is the protagonist male or female? FEMALE. Is this a rom/com? NO=Mean Girl.
Blair Waldorf (Gossip Girl): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? YES. Does she represent an idea? NO. Does she have any flaws? YES. Is she killed before the third act? NO=Strong female character.
Belle (Beauty & the Beast): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? NO. Villain? NO. Is she mainly a love interest? YES. Do they get together? YES. Is she only interested in her man? NO. Is she in a committed relationship with a protagonist? NO. Changes her man or is changed? CHANGES. Are they from different cultures? YES=Nobel Squan, whatever the hell that is! (Looks like something out of Avatar, though.)
Scout Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? YES. Does she represent an idea? YES. Villain? NO. Is she mainly a love interest? NO. Is she part of a team/family? YES. What is her main role? LEADER. How does she feel about babies? NOT RIGHT NOW. Does she get pregnant? NO. Is she in a horror story? NO. Is she violent? NO. Is she nearly perfect? NO. What is her flaw?=sassmouth, which I guess is true, but Scout is so much more.
Elphaba (Wicked): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? YES. Does she represent an idea? YES, many. Villain? NO. Is she mainly a love interest? NO. Is she part of a team/family? YES. What is her main role? ROGUE=wildcard.
Elle Woods (Legally Blonde): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? YES. Does she represent an idea? YES. Villain? NO. Is she mainly a love interest? NO. Is she part of a team/family? YES. What is her main role? LEADER. How does she feel about babies? NOT RIGHT NOW. Does she get pregnant? NO. Is she in a horror story? NO. Is she violent? NO. Is she nearly perfect? YES. Is she older? NO. Should the audience like her? YES. Who likes her more? WOMEN=Mary Sue.