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.

Thanks For the Love, Gala Darling.

 

Rachel Hills wasn’t wrong when she said a link from Gala Darling’s self-titled blog significantly increases her page views.

I was lucky enough to be linked in Gala’s “Carousel” column (and the very first link, no less), and saw my hits over the weekend increase more than 13 times what I normally average!

It’s nice to see all my hard work somewhat paying off. Thanks again, Gala Darling!

Elsewhere: [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Why I Blog: The Pleasures & Sorrows of the Internet.