On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

After my Mick Foley rant last week, I’ve started reading his blog, Countdown to Lockdown, and I’m loving it. Here are some choice articles:

Remembering female pro-wrestling pioneer, Luna Vachon, who passed away on August 27 this year.

“That Time I Met… Tina Fey… and Alec Baldwin!”

“That Time I Met… President William Jefferson Clinton!” (I really love this one; some heart-warming stuff.)

“Mick’s Favourite Things: Top Ten Matches”, three of whichCactus Jack VS. Randy Orton at Backlash 2004 (above), Mankind VS. The Undertaker in Hell in a Cell in June, 1998, and Mick Foley VS. Edge in a Hardcore Match at WrestleMania XXII (that’s WrestleMania 22 in 2006 for you wrestling laymen)I 100% agree with.

In defence of Buffy’s whining.

“To the Teenage Boy in Your Life”:

“An important thing to remember is that girls are not from a different planet, nor are they even a different species. They’re just people, they’re just like boys, except with vulvas instead of penises.

“Mainly you need to remember this when you’re trying to figure out what a girl is thinking. See, if you didn’t know what a BOY was thinking, how would you go about finding out? You might ask him, right? The same goes for girls.”

I’m a bit behind the eight-ball on this one, as No Make-Up Week was a month ago, but Alle Malice’s guest post on Rabbit Write goes over the reasons “Why We Wear Make-Up”. I especially like this one:

“It makes me look good in photos. Almost everything we do now is documented by someone and posted in Facebook albums for the world to see, because if you aren’t having fun on Facebook, you aren’t really having fun. And if you aren’t pretty on the internet, you aren’t pretty in real life. Enter makeup.”

Nick Sylvester, on Riff City, discusses “How Kanye West’s Online Triumphs Have Eclipsed Kanye West”:

“Maybe there are people working with him… but I get the sense that Kanye is generating the [sic] lot of these ideas. I imagine he likes being in control of every aspect of the production, the medium being the message and so on. Online he is a wise fool, first playing into people’s perceptions of ‘Kanye West’, then off those very perceptions, sending himself up, pulling back his own veil… Despite many attempts, Kanye West is incapable of being parodied, largely because Kanye West has already figured out a way to be a parody of Kanye West.”

Much like Megan Fox in this New York Times Magazine article. Could I even go as far as to say that blonde bombshell Pamela Anderson has employed this strategy? I believe I could. And for that matter, Lindsay Lohan sending herself up on Funny or Die and promos for the MTV VMAs are along the same lines.

Sylvester goes on to say that “artists like Kanye West have to be ‘good at Twitter’ in order to put a dent in the zeitgeist.”

Furthermore,

“‘Nowadays rappers, they like bloggers,’ is what Swizz Beatz says… Slowly the work itself becomes secondary, less ambitious; slowly people becomes ‘really proud of their tweets’.”

Is it “The End of Men”?

Disney’s latest offering, Tangled, based on the story of Rapunzel, takes us back to a time when the Disney Princess reigned supreme, according to io9.

Feminist Themes examines Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” clip:

“… the objectification, glamorising of lesbian fetishism, and excessive girl-on-girl violence… [are aspects of the video that] feminist Gaga fans can try to justify… as another example of how she subversively turns what we usually find hot into something that leaves a nasty taste in our mouths and therefore makes a statement, but if any other artist (particularly any male artist) incorporated this much objectification and violence against women we would be outraged. Is it any different just because it’s a woman, or because it’s specifically Gaga?

“… What sets Gaga apart from other sexpot pop stars for me is that I just can’t imagine men being honestly turned on by hernot because she isn’t gorgeous (she is), but because she is so avant-garde, aggressive and self-driven which takes that arousal and turns it into something atypical, uncomfortable, and threatening.”

Also at Feminist Themes, the cause of the she-blogger in “Why I Blog”.

In other Gaga news, The Cavalier Daily reports that the University of Virginia is now running Lady Gaga classes! This sooo makes me want to re-enrol in university in a post-grad, transfer to UV, and take this kick-ass class!

The Daily Beast puts forth two differing opinions on Glee’s stereotypes: Andy Dehnart discusses the show’s “Harmful Simplicity”, while Thaddeus Russell applauds the walking stereotype that is Kurt Hummel, as “history tells us that those unafraid to be ‘too gay’ won far more freedomsfor all of usthan those who dressed the part of straights.”

Beautifully satiric The Frenemy reveals the recipe to “The Teen Romantic Comedy”, which “does not work for Mean Girls, 10 Things I Hate About You, or John Hughes films”, unfortunately. The truth about Disney Princes is also profiled, in which Eric from The Little Mermaid “wanted to kiss a girl who doesn’t speak words and doesn’t know how to use a fork. What the hell are you, caveman?”, while Mulan’s Captain Shang is in truth, a “gay liar” who made young, susceptible viewers the girls who have “crushes on a lot of her gay friends. [A] big Will & Grace fan.” Hey, that’s me!

Rachel Hills discusses intersectionality in feminism:

“For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, ‘intersectionality’ is a way of talking about power and privilege that recognises that recognises that these things operate on multiple axes. People aren’t just female, or Black, or Asian, or straight, or working class, or trans, or a parent, or prone to depressioneveryone falls into a number of different categories that colours their experience of the world in specific ways. In the feminist context, it serves as a useful reminder that not all women have the same experiences, and calls into question the still dominant notion that the neutral ‘female’ experience is one that is white, heterosexual and middle-class.

“I’m also a fan because it just makes feminism a whole lot more interesting.”

Girl with a Satchel profiles Melissa Hoyer’s media career, which is a must-read for any budding wordsmith.

I am staunchly pro-choice when it comes to the abortion debate. In fact, I lean so far to the left that I’m borderline pro-abortion. (I’m sure that’ll ruffle some feathers!) But no matter what your feelings on the subject, MamaMia’s post, “The Couple Facing Jail Because They Tried To ‘Procure an Abortion’. Hello, Queensland? It’s 2010” is worth checking out.

Jezebel’s “5 Worst Mean (Little) Girls of All Time” includes Willy Wonka’s Veruca Salt and, from one of the most heart wrenching films of all time, A Little Princess, Lavinia, who looks a lot like modern-day mean girl, Angelina Pivarnick, from Jersey Shore.

“Why Strawberry Shortcake Was a Progressive Pioneer.”

TV: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Grilled Cheesus” Episode.

 

I have been quite impressed with Glee’s second season thus far, as evidenced by my last review of the show.

Last night’s episode, which aired two weeks ago in the States, due to Ten’s commitment to the Commonwealth Games, dealt with Kurt’s dad Burt having a heart attack and lapsing into a coma, and how the members of the glee club felt about using religion to comfort Kurt and themselves.

Unlike many of last season’s episodes, “a nuanced discussion of religion prevent[ed] Glee from slipping into After School Special mode,” with creator Ryan Murphy explaining that “every time somebody said something anti-religion, we made sure somebody said something pro[-religion]”.

While I’m not so pro-religion myself, and definitely took Kurt’s side when he said “… the reason I don’t go to church is because most churches don’t think very much of gay people. Or women. Or science,” the show “accomplished a prime-time first: an episode that was… sympathetic to both believers and non-believers” and didn’t risk potentially alienating a subset of its audience.

Surprisingly, though, Sue Sylvester was in agreement with Kurt’s plight, “because she finds signing religious songs on school property inappropriate” and believes that “pushing religion on Kurt is amoral,” needless to say, because of her own experiences being angry with God for her sister’s disability.

While I shared Kurt’s discomfort at having his friends pray for Burt in his hospital room without Kurt’s consent, and Mercedes luring him into God’s house with the promise of wearing a “fabulous hat”, the overall message was that even if you don’t believe in religion (can I get an amen?), you’ve got to believe in something.

And Kurt did realise that he believes in something: he believes in his father. Echoing his beautifuland dare I say, betterrendition of The Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, which harkened back to Burt holding Kurt’s hand at his mother’s funeral, Kurt takes his dad’s hand and, if by some sort of miracle, Burt’s hand twitches.

I suppose I should also mention that all this religion is brought about by Finn seeing Jesus’ likeness in his burnt grilled cheese sandwich, which he believes has magical powers because everything he wishes for comes true. But at this point, I’m so over Rachel and Finn; it’s all about Brittany, bitch!

Related: The Underlying Messages of Glee’s “Britney/Brittany” Episode.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Glee: You’ve Got to Have Faith… In Grilled Cheese.

[Jezebel] How Glee Can Save Itself Next Season.

[BoobTube] Glee in Pictures: Grilled Cheesus.

Event: This is a Story About a Girl Named Britney… I Mean Lucky! Britney Spears Cabaret Review.

I’ve been busting to see Britney Spears: The Cabaret (formerly known as Britney Spears: ’Tegrity ) since I first read about it God knows where about a year ago, and last Wednesday, I finally saw it.

I was expecting big things from Christie Whelan, whose one woman cabaret (albeit with piano player and somewhat of a therapist/shoulder to cry on for Britney, Mathew Frank) deals with the ups and downs of Britney’s career, with a whole lot of satire and tragicomedy thrown in there.

According to faux-Britney’s Facebook page, the Sydney Morning Herald called it “hilariously sad and sadly hilarious”, which I think sums it up nicely.

The show began with Whelan singing “Circus”, with wild psych-ward Britney eyes. She went over Britney’s early career, using props such as a hula hoop and twirling baton, “learning… that crossing your legs is pretty important during a ballad on a stool” and incorporating the signature Britney “-ayy” (as in, “Oh bab-ay, bab-ayy”).

Most of the show is actually hilariousmy favourite line from the night was from the aforementioned “Lucky”: “If there’s nothing missing in my life, then why do I attack the paparazzi with an umbrella… at night?”but towards the end, in signature cabaret style, Whelan discussed the trials and tribulations of Britney’s later life and it is genuinely saddening. The show ends on this note, which at first left an undesirable taste in my mouth, but I think that was Whelan’s goalwhile Britney Spears is über-spoofable in all her white trash glory, what with dropping her kids while accessorising with Ed Hardy and Daisy Dukes, but underneath it all, she’s a deeply sad and scared girl who’s not yet a woman. And whose Dad controls her money… at night.

[Facebook] Britney Spears: The Cabaret.

TV: Surfing the Third Wave—Second Wave VS. Third Wave Feminism on Gossip Girl.

 

Not only was last week’s Gossip Girl one of the best episodes I’ve ever seen, with one of the most gorgeous dresses I’ve ever seen (see above), but it also addressed some feminist issues that have been rotating around the blogosphere of late: second wave versus third wave feminism and slut-shaming.

*Spoiler alert* The episode dealt with a Gossip Girl blast suggesting that Serena might have an STI, and the turmoil the rumour created amongst the group. Of course, Little Miss Juliet was the one who tipped Gossip Girl off, in the hopes of taking Serena down and getting her kicked out of Columbia. After all, the episode is titled “Goodbye, Columbia”…

Without giving too much away (What’s that you say? I already have? Whoops!), Serena comes face to face with the dean, who says of Serena’s (alleged) wayward behaviour:

“Women of my generation had to fight for every opportunity. And to be taken seriously, and your attitude, Miss van der Woodsen, makes a mockery of that.”

Now if that isn’t the second wave looking down upon the third wave for our apparent flippancy about “activism”, our “obsession with technology” (Gossip Girl’s blasts are a prime example of this), our “unwilling[ness] to challenge sexual exploitation for fear of pissing off men” (hello, Serena), and our infatuation with Lady Gaga (well, Gossip Girl did feature the Lady herself in an episode…), I don’t know what is.

Susan Faludi recently wrote about this phenomenon in “American Electra: Feminism’s Ritual Matricide”, Amanda Marcotte responded to the article on Pandagon (from which the above quotes were taken), and I featured a link to the latter in last week’s “On the (Rest of the) Net”.

In the article, Faludi asserts that

“despite its [feminism’s] many victories, it seems to falter along a ‘motherdaughter’ divide. A generational breakdown underlies so many of the pathologies that have long disturbed American [or, rather, Western] feminism… its bitter divisions over sex… [and] alongside the battle of the sexes rages the battle of the ages.”

Faludi feels that second wavers ask questions and make comments such as “Why does it feel like we’re sliding backwards?”, “Young women are narcissists who don’t care about politics”, and “We’re really furious with these young women, aren’t we?”

Indeed, this seems to be the attitude of Dean Reuther towards Serena who, granted, isn’t the best feminist role model, but perhaps doesn’t deserve to have such comments hurled at her. Vanessa Abrams is probably the most feminist-y of all the characters on Gossip Girl, and I could almost take her seriously, if she wasn’t so damn annoying. Even Blair could be seen as a third-waver; she refuses to be held down by Chuck, rolls with the boys, strives for academic excellence by conniving her way into becoming Miss Chamberlain’s student assistant, and dumped Chuck for using her sexuality as a bargaining chip. Plus, she’s feisty and rocks a headband.

Of course, I’m not sure Gossip Girl consciously chose to comment on the debate, and no doubt this will be the last we hear of it, but it would be interesting to see Serena fight back and declare herself “sick to death of hearing about the glory days of Seventies feminism”, whilst older women, like Dean Reuther, “decalring themselves sick to death of being swept into the dustbin of history.” However, being the dean at an Ivy League university is hardly being “swept into the dustbin”.

On a final note, Faludi spends a lot of time criticising (via her second wave subjects) the technology third wavers use, specifically blogging: “All they want to do is sit at their computers and blog.” Ouch.

I’m sure Gossip Girl would have something to say about that.

Elsewhere: [Harpers] American Electra: Feminism’s Ritual Matricide.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“A Guide to Eating Food Off the Floor.”

Feminist Themes’ regular “Wait… What?” column features The View co-host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and her take on the pro-choice versus pro-life debate.

In The Atlantic’s thought provoking piece on “The End of White America?”, Hua Hsu “discuss[es] Obama, football, hip-hop, and the elusive notion of a ‘post-racial’ society.”

Pandagon responds to Susan Faludi’s piece on third-wave feminism (which I haven’t read yet, but expect it to be included in an upcoming On the [Rest of the] Net), in which “she puts out evidence that younger feminists are sometimes unfair and ungrateful to older feminists, and that older feminists are sometimes so afraid of younger women that they go out of their way to exclude them… complaining that younger women don’t care.” Furthermore:

“… she reinforces a jumble of often conflicting stereotypes on younger feminists to discredit us: that we’re obsessed with navel-gazing over activism, that our obsession with technology comes at the expense of actual work, that we don’t know our history and don’t care about systemic issues, that we’re materialist[ic] and unwilling to challenge sexual exploitation for fear of pissing off men, that we’re so busy cultivating our graduate degrees writing about Lady Gaga… that we can’t be bothered to worry about real world issues.”

I do agree with some of this summary of Faludi’s piece, but Lady Gaga’s meat dress drew attention to vegetarianism, animal welfare and gay rights. They’re, like, real world issues, aren’t they?

Liz Greene delivers some particularly poignant points on parental relationships and “the family triangle” in “The Eternal Triangle”.

Buffy is “The Third Wave’s Final Girl”.

Jezebel reasons “Why Glee Still Needs to Work on Diversity”, while Brittany and Santana are “Queer Idols”:

“It wasn’t even until halfway through Glee’s first season that the first hint of queerness was even mentioned… Maybe you’d call it bisexual, maybe you’d call it heteroflexible, maybe you’d call it bicurious: whatever they are, it’s definitely a bit queer… Brittany is, if you will, an equal opportunity slut: one who’s willing to make out with whatever hotness crosses her path, regardless of gender… And among fellow fans of the show, my designation of Brittany and Santana as queer icons has met with some derision: their relationship is played for laughs, I’ve been told. They’re just straight girls making out for male attention… [But]… with the exception of their joint date with Finn, Brittany and Santana have hardly been shown using their relationship to win over boys… For me, Brittany and Santana represent a new mode of queer figure… : fluidly sexual, comfortable with same sex contacts, and more interested in finding happiness than finding the right label. They may not fit into the rigid structures of traditional sexual identities, but they’re comfortable enough with themselves not to care.”

More Jezebel: They’ve really been getting on the “slut-shaming bandwagon”, especially with their endorsement of Easy A. Now, they give their take on the “Ancient Slut-Shaming” of Cleopatra, as well as the “sexual double standards” on Jersey Shore. About the latter, they say:

“… The slut-shaming of Angelina… revealed their thoughts on sexual double standards. (The ‘thoughts’ being that sexual double standards exist, and that’s just the way it is.)… Pauly said about Angelina: ‘She brought all these random people home. She’s a girl. You don’t do that. That’s a guy thing. Guy’s do that, no girls.’… Shouldn’t Pauly and The Situation be grateful for sluts? If there were no sluts then they would never be able to have sex. Do they think for one minute that they would even want to live in a world in which all girls acted the way they’re ‘supposed’ to?”

“Who Stole Feminism?”, asks The Nation. Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell and all those right-wing extremists, that’s who!

“Sarah Palin opposes abortion and comprehensive sex education. While mayor of Wasilla she made sexual assault victims pay for their own rape kits. She also calls herself a feminist. Delaware GOP Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell has said that allowing women to attend military academies ‘cripples the readiness of our defence’ and that wives should ‘graciously submit’ to their husbandsbut her website touts her ‘commitment to the women’s movement. Pundits who once mocked women’s rights activists as ugly bra burners are abuzz over the ‘new conservative feminism’, and the Tea Party is lauding itself as a women’s movement.

The right once disparaged feminism as man-hating and baby-killing, but now ‘feminist’ is the must-have label for women on the right.”

“Geeks Versus Hipsters” is the equivalent of the passionate versus the apathetic, respectively, according to Gizmodo. And from the hipsters I’ve come into contact with, I’m inclined to agree.

Can Newsanchor Barbie be both hot and a feminist?

Jessica Rudd (yes, Kevin’s daughter) discusses the differences between chick-lit and (the nonexistent) dick-lit in a guest post on MamaMia.

Beneath the “campy sensationalism” of True Blood lies “the weird, seemingly reactionary politics” of “the right’s worst nightmare about post-gay-liberation America come to life.”

In Appreciation of Mick Foley.

 

For long-time readers of this blog (does six months qualify as a long-term blog-reading relationship?), you will be familiar with my fondness for professional wrestler turned author, Mick Foley.

When I first started watching World Wrestling Entertainment (then still WWF) in 2001, Foley had a sporadic recurring role, after resigning as fictional “commissioner” of the company. Little did I know just how affecting he had been to the hardcore wrestling scene.

In a nutshell, Foley started out in the independent wrestling scene, then gradually made his way through the ranks, beginning in squash matches (where a bigger star beats a newcomer or unknown in very little time and with very little effort) in WWE, then World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and finally Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), where he made a namewell, technically, three namesfor himself.

As an unorthodox professional wrestler, with an out of shape body and not a lot technical mat moves, Foley needed that extra something, which he came up with in the form of his three alter egos: Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack.

Mankind is the one many wrestling fans would be most familiar with, with Foley wearing a Hannibal Lector-esque mask and brandishing a personified sock on his hand, affectionately known as Mr. Socko, which would be used in his Mandible Claw move. Mankind teamed up with The Rock in The Rock n’ Sock Connection in the late ’90s.

Dude Love favours tie-die and espouses the 1960’s hippie frame of mind, and is probably the least well-known of the three.

Finally, Cactus Jack is quintessential “Hardcore Legend”, using thumbtacks and Barbie (a baseball bat encased in barbed wire, oftentimes set on fire), wearing leopard print leggings and a flanny, and is often invoked in matches such as Hell in a Cell and especially his Last Man Standing matches in his feud with Triple H, again in the late ’90s.

After some time in Japan, where a lot of professional wrestlers believe you need to spend time if you wish to be taken seriously as an athlete, Foley debuted in the WWE, where he had some of his most memorable matches, mentioned above.

While my forbidden love for wrestling introduced me to many sub-categories (like my favourite band, Our Lady Peace, American geography, and my obsession an subsequent research articles and blog posts on the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide), none is more dear to my heart than discovering Mick Foley as a memoirist, children’s storybook writer, and novelist.

I own all three of his memoirs, Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood & Sweatsocks, Foley is Good: And the Real World is Faker Than Wrestling, and The Hardcore Diaries, as well as his first novel, Tietam Brown (watch this space to see if I can muscle a review out of a friend who’s had my copy on loan for months), which I serendipitously found in a second-hand book store and could barely contain my excitement. Yes, I love rare and obscure authors, okay?!

Foley has recently published his fourth memoir, Countdown to Lockdown: A Hardcore Journal, which I can’t wait to get my grubby little mitts on. In addition, Foley’s much publicised computer illiteracy has been conquered, with the advent of his blog, Countdown to Lockdown, and Jezebel has cottoned on to the awesomeness that is Mick Foley”, with two feature articles on the Hardcore Legend in the past week.

Foley paved the way for wrestlers with brains to parlay into other areas they could be useful in, with Chris Jericho (memoirist, musician, actor/host, commentator) and Edge (memoirist) springing to mind. And now he is speaking out for sexual assault victims in a category that has traditionally been termed “women’s issues”.

Foley is a truly smart, talented, funny, inspiring and admirable man, and if you like what you’ve read here, I urge you to pick up one of his books (or if reading’s not your thing, YouTube a match of his; but reading probably is your thing if you’re looking at this here blog) and prepare to have your lifeor at the very least, your perception of professional wrestlingchanged.

Elsewhere: [Countdown to Lockdown] Homepage.

[Jezebel] Wrestling Star Mick Foley Blows Our Collective Mind.

[Jezebel] The Day I Beat Down Mick Foley.

[Slate] The Wrestler & the Cornflake Girl.

The Awesomeness That is James Van Der Beek.

 

As Dawson Leery on late ’90s teen angst television staple, Dawson’s Creek, James Van Der Beek was a whiny pushover who always lost the girl to the sexy and witty and aptly-named Pacey Witter. With the exception of getting drunk and singing the blues with Andy on his birthday, Dawson’s Creek perhaps would’ve been better without its titular character.

Van Der Beek hasn’t done a whole lot since Dawson’s Creek ended in 2003, but what he has done has been a far more apt use of his acting talents.

I recently watched the movie adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s Rules of Attraction, in which Van Der Beek plays Sean Bateman, American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman’s little brother. While the film, like the book, is quite left of centre and something not everyone is likely to have seen, Van Der Beek is chilling as a narcissistic, drug-taking/dealing, death-faking rich college boy, alongside Ian Somerhalder in a similarly affecting performance.

And anyone who watches Criminal Minds would be hard pressed to forget the formerly innocent Dawson as Tobias Hankel, the serial killer who was so damaged by his abusive father, that he took on said father’s demeanour in order to carry out his killings. In addition, he injected everyone’s favourite agent, Spencer Reid, with heroin, causing Reid to struggle with his newfound addiction in later episodes.

Angus, Van Der Beek’s debut film role in 1995, is a much lauded cult teen movie in which he plays the popular jock to Angus’s overweight outcast. I haven’t seen the film personally (I plan to watch it during my convalescence from wisdom teeth surgery at the end of the week), Jezebel seems to like it, and that’s good enough for me!

Van Der Beek is not unfamiliar to parodying himself, either, with cameos in Scary Movie and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back (worst movie ever, but the running Ben Affleck joke is a cracker!), and comedic turns in Ugly Betty and How I Met Your Mother.

If you’re indifferent to James Van Der Beek, like I was until I really paid attention to his acting life after Dawson’s Creek, I suggest you take a look at his post-Dawson’s résumé to truly understand the awesomeness that is Van Der Beek.

Related: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis Review.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Important Life Lessons From B-List Teen Movies of the ’90s.