The Problem with Pop Music.

 

From The Quietus“Givin’ It to the Homegirl: The Trouble with Kelis” by Neil Kulkarni:

“I hear no shattered women on the radio right now, no one swallowing men like air or devouring worlds or commanding the cosmos or even telling the truth. Only empty-headed little girls skweeming and squeaking about what rockstars they are. Well we get the pop we deserve, the pop Fearne Cotton likes, but even if I were white skinny and pretty I’d feel lagged behind, let down, and I’d be wondering why the fuck these drippy bitches like Flo and Ke$h think they deserve to be famous. Good taste? Where’s the fucking bravery? Where’s girls like I know, rather than the girls and guys I’d cross streets, change clubs, emigrate, to avoid. If pop is a club right now, I find myself walking past all the tables packed full of braying twats and simpering saps and desperate to recognise a friendly face, a real face, smart people who are a laugh, rather than all these desperately needy, charmless loudmouth ignoramuses and fucking students.

“Look at what pop’s women are wearing. Even in Gaga’s orbit of influence, it’s so fucking dull out there. It’s as if Girl pop looks at ’30s Vogue, ’70s Cosmo, ’80s Face/ID, looks at the dress-up-games the high-street makes easy and search-free, throws shit on and waits for those old spirits to reinhabit the body beneath and the mind behind such carelessness… Those old moments of beauty, those looks so steely, timed and timeless were animated and arranged by folk who worshipped new gods, the camera and the motorcar and the mirrorball and the MDMA and that spirit cannot be conjured off-the-peg, cribbed from an idiot’s guide or splattered on with a sequin gun. [Scarlett Woman note: Or a love glue gun, as Gaga would say?]

“Which does beg the question—what real female figureheads are there for girls to idolise, aspire to, learn from in music right now? In a pop world in which female ‘presence’ is in glut/spreadthin, it’s startling how little of femme-import is being given, how so many of the supposed ‘divas’ in modern pop have now to offer young minds bar money-hunger, man-dependence and just-dumped aggravation… make the colossal strategic error of listening to the charts, and you’ll see girls talk about themselves, sure, but always ONLY in relation to their relationships, only in relation to how near/far they are from love, only in relation to how much they can lose/claw back of themselves in the permanent night-out that is pop’s sole focus and context in 2010. Crucially, whilst you’ll see lots of girls, you won’t hear a single word that dares to antagonise you, that really addresses how scarily fast and furious with innovative invective girls can be. Obvious why girls are so ill-served at the moment, why none of pop’s chat and cattiness (exceptions: Gaga, Britney and Beyonce on their good days; Shakira—all of whom crucially don’t try and talk to/for their young fans, just luxuriate in their own supra-identities) actually matches up to the way girls talk/live/think—somewhere along the line middle-aged fanboys started whispering to pop that if it wants to cut deep it must only thieve from the past the fanboys curate, that it can’t do politics, that being a poetess is less important than simply being a witty conduit for the babble of what’s contemporary, a simpering squeaker of lad-mag-friendly spunkiness. ‘I really like your beard.’ Jesus. They’re being catered for.”

Elsewhere: [The Quietus] Givin’ It to the Homegirl: The Trouble with Kelis.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

The latest Teen Vogue with Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale on the cover worryingly espouses using dieting to achieve “Your Best Body”.

Minnie Mouse meets beatnik meets Gala Darling is the latest “blog girl” trend.

A superb 2004 Andrew Denton interview with media darling/mogul Ita Buttrose.

Charlie Glickman on the perils of alternative male and female sexuality.

Pop music=guilty pleasure no more. (However, stay tuned next week for an alternative view on this subject.)

Girl with a Satchel laments the unattractive “View from the Glossip Stand” in Zoo’s UnAustralians of the Year feature.

“Stereotyping is a fun and useful tool… to categorise interests and make harmful blanket statements” about your favourite magazines. For example, Lula is for those who “never spend money on U.S. fashion magazines because they just don’t ‘get it’; they’re so dull”, while Details has “a strong Patrick Bateman vibe”.

More on Gwyneth Paltrow’s unlikability, this time from New York Magazine:

“Gwyneth is also kind of a jerk. Her perfection is judgment on the rest of us, and she makes this known in interviews and on her lifestyle website, Goop, the tone of which suggests a domestic personality just one degree shy of Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest.”

The Freudian nature of the vampire.

How women are reclaiming “bitch” as their own.

New research indicates that women’s bodies may protect themselves from rape. And so opens a whole other can of consent worms…

“Are Music Video Girls Exploited?”

This article puts to the rest the “you can’t be both beautiful and smart” way of thinking.

The Internet is for Porn.

 

From “Hard Core” by Natasha Vargas-Cooper on The Atlantic:

“… Debby Herbenick, believes that Internet porn now ‘plays a role in how many Americans perceive and become educated about sex.’ How this influence actually works is speculative—no one can ever really know what other people do in their bedrooms or why. Some experts postulate a sort of monkey-see, monkey-do explanation, whereby both men and women are conforming to behaviors they witness on their browser media players. But in many ways this explanation doesn’t account for the subtle relationship between now-ubiquitous pornography and sexuality. To take anal sex again, porn doesn’t plant that idea in men’s minds; instead, porn puts the power of a mass medium behind ancient male desires. Anal sex as a run-of-the-mill practice, de rigueur pubic waxing for girls—and their mothers—and first-date doggy-style encounters (this is but a small sampling of rapidly shifting sexual mores) have been popularized and legitimized by porn. Which means that men now have a far easier time broaching subjects once considered off- putting—for instance, suburban dads can offhandedly suggest anal sex to their bethonged, waxed wives.

“It seems like almost every teenager in America—and hardly just the teenagers—has heard of or taken a dip into sites like RedTube and YouPorn, which alone account for roughly 2 percent of all daily Internet traffic. These are free, open, enormous sites, in which anybody can upload, distribute, and view whatever porn they please; even porn in which they star. It’s amateur hour—and like all amateur hours, it’s an honest, if often not-pretty, catalog of the desires and insecurities of regular folk.

“And it’s largely a grim parade of what women will do to satisfy men: young wives fingering themselves on the family couch, older wives offering themselves to their hubby’s Army buddies, aging moms in shabby corsets shoving their sagging rear ends into the camera. When it comes to contemporary porn, you don’t have to look like a porn star to be sexually desired. Indeed, porn stars no longer look like porn stars. The image of Jenna Jameson, America’s most famous professional porn star (and a best-selling author)—with her comically huge breasts, overextended blond extensions, and artificially tanned skin—has been supplanted by the new face of pornography: a pale, naughty, 19-year-old with A-cups and a bad haircut, her face illuminated only by the bluish glow of her Mac.”

Elsewhere: [The Atlantic] Hard Core.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Rachel Hills discusses Naomi Wolf’s response to WikiGate here, whilst also doing a fine job of unpacking the fun for twenty-somethings = lots of casual sex myth.

On that, “How to Be A 20-Something”:

“Be really attractive. Your acne is gone, your face has matured without having wrinkles and everything on your body is lifted naturally. Eat bagels seven days a week, binge-drink and do drugs: you’ll still look like a babe. When you turn thirty, it’ll become a different story but that’s, like, not for a really long time.

“Reestablish a relationship with your parents. You don’t live with them anymore (hopefully) so start to appreciate them as human beings with thoughts, flaws and feelings rather than soulless life ruiners who won’t let you borrow their car.”

What Would Phoebe Do? on the pretentiousness of Francophilia:

“Gratuitously adding French words to conversation is a time-honoured way of signalling pretentiousness.”

Next year’s Halloween costume sorted!

“How to Be A Complete Douche” has a certain Patrick Bateman feel to it.

Hugh Hefner defends his May-December engagement to Crystal Harris to The Daily Beast.

“How to Live in New York City”:

“Certain moments of living in the city will always stick out to you. Buying plums from a fruit vendor on 34th street and eating three of them on a long walk, the day you spent in bed with your best friend watching Tyra Banks, the amazing rooftop party you attended on a sweltering hot day in July. These memories might seem insignificant but they were all moments when you looked around the city and felt like you were a part of it all.”

Sarah at Feministe recalls “How I Learned to Stop Caring and Admit I Love Pop”.

Jezebel chronicles “The Evolution of Moms” from Soccer Mom (Mater Adidas) to a future robot-mom who encompasses all the admirable features of stage and helicopter mothers alike, with a special focus on the parent Sarah Palin made famous, the Mama Grizzly.

Memo to Lady Gaga: leggings are not pants. Nor, more to the point, are leotards.

Magazines: Independent Zine Zinm Preview.

 

Last week I was lucky enough to be featured in a friend of a friend’s Melbourne-based zine, Zinm by Marc Bonnici.

Our mutual friend Anthony had been urging me to check out his self-titled blog for the better part of a year, until I happened upon last month’s copy of Zinm that he’d brought to a get-together.

I was instantly drawn in as I briefly flicked through the pages, a picture from Mean Girls staying most clearly in my mind. (“Burn Book” is a regular feature of Zinm.)

Try as I might, I was never able to get my mitts on a copy of last month’s edition, but better still, I was able to be featured in this month.

As Australia Day rolls around again, guest contributors Anita Calavetta, Marc Bergmann, Dodie Smith, and Muriel Barbery, as well as Marc himself, muse about what Australia means to us. Yours truly continues on her plight to get the safety net for footballers behaving badly removed, as I feel that is a strong part of Aussie culture.

Unfortunately there are not any copies of the latest edition available, as there is a limited print run. But the title has doubled in demand since its inception three issues ago. If you are interested in bagging a copy, I suggest you check out Marc’s blog and drop him a line.

Us independent writers have got to stick together.

Related: Beauty & the Bestiality.

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

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

Elsewhere: [Marc Bonnici] Homepage.

Is This The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius?

 

Unbeknownst to me until Saturday when a Facebook status alerted me to the fact, apparently our astrological signs are all out of whack and now I’m a Libra instead of a Scorpio. Oh no they didn’t!

According to the first half of this article on The Washington Post’s website, in the 2,000 years since the astrological chart was created, the gravitational pull of the moon has shifted the earth on its axis, thus pushing the zodiac signs back a month.

Well hell no! There is no way I am a Libra, who strives for balance and peace, and can be indecisive. Usually when I’ve made up my mind, that’s the end of it. And while I do desire a certain amount of balance in my life and try to resist change, I feel I embody the attributes of a Scorpio far more: passion, fierce loyalty, unafraid to voice opinions and will sting if crossed.

Libras do like a bit of gossip and to be surrounded by beautiful things, which I will admit to, however Scorpios are the most misunderstood and introverted sing of the zodiac, and I often feel misunderstood and crave “me time”.

I’m not a big believer in horoscopes per se, in that I don’t read what’s going to happen to me each day, as they’re pretty generic and never come true. However, I know a lot of people in my life who are Pisceans/Arians/Scorpios down to a tee, and astrology helps me to understand them and myself more fully.

But, I know there are a lot of people out there who think astrology is a load of mumbo-jumbo. Time’s description of a “new” astrological sign, Ophiuchus, should weigh the argument in the disbelievers’ favour:

“he is an interpreter of dreams and vivid premonitions.”

I’m sure he is.

In other skeptical blog posts, ComPost blogger Alexandra Petri writes on her predicament of going through life as a Pisces, and now finding out she’s an Aries (two polar opposites if ever there were!). (Two friends and my mother are lucky enough to be born on February 18th, which lies on the cusp on either side of Aquarius, no matter which chart you’re looking at.)

But, if you scroll down to the second half of the Post’s article, astrologist StarJack (take that for what you will!) says:

“The stars are markers that drift, but our main points of reference are not directly the stars. They are the equinoxes (both spring and vernal) and the solstices which altogether make the four cardinal points of the zodiac which in turn determine the signs. The stars help us locate those points which define the SIGNS of the Zodiac which remain constant in relation to the equinox point. The CONSTELLATIONS do move about and we take that into consideration when locating planets.”

So perhaps I do possess character traits from both Libra and Scorpio. Take, for example, the tattoo of a scorpion I want to get on the back of my neck (and have since I was about 16): it represents the stubbornness of not accepting that I might possibly be born under another sign, whilst it is also something pretty to look at, which is an inherently Libran quality.

Hmm, maybe I have my sun in Scorpio and my moon in Libra…

Related: The 10 Commandments of Work/Life Balance.

Elsewhere: [The Washington Post] New Zodiac Sign Dates: Don’t Switch Horoscopes Yet.

[Mystical Blaze] Personality Profile: Libra.

[Mystical Blaze] Personality Profile: Scorpio.

[Time NewsFeed] Ophiuchus: What All Sagittarians and Capricorns Need to Know About Their New Zodiac.

[ComPost] New Zodiac Sign Dates Are Ruining My Life! And What’s an Ophiuchus?

Magazine Review: frankie—January/February 2011.

 

frankie’s last couple of issues have been fairly lackluster, however the January/February edition marks a return to form for the mag.

In terms of the pictorials, frankie’s got the hipster-esque “Magnificent Specimens”, where “photographer Dave Mead shares his favourite beardy portraits (p.45), laptop-sleeve porn on page 58, which made me yearn just that little bit more for the brand-new MacBook I am currently typing this on (!!), and Emily Chalmers shows off her “old renovated” London warehouse, where “she works as a stylist, author and shop owner of [boutique] Caravan (p. 87). At the back of the book, four artists draw their cities, with Nancy Mungcal from Los Angeles taking the take (in my book) on page 120.

It is also a quality feature-heavy edition this time around, with Heathers, Muriel’s Wedding and Gone with the Wind making an appearance in “Movies to Swear By” (p. 50), Jo Walker writing that catching a contagious yawn makes you an empathetic person (p. 110), and the world’s strangest holidays, like Punctuation Day and National Wear a Plunger on Your Head Day, on page 114.

Benjamin Law is always a joy to read (I should have included his latest, Family Law, in my “The Ten Books I Wanted to Read This Year But Didn’t”), and his articles this (bi-)month are no exception.

On page 57, Law laments life in the ’burbs, writing:

“Sing to me of Merril Bainbridge cassingles and of pas that play Tina Arena’s “Sorrento Moon” on repeat. Sing to me of Muffin Break and Mathers, of Lowes and Bi-Lo. Sing to me, oh acne-ravaged Asian teenager working at Big W named Benjamin Law, even though you’re going through puberty and really shouldn’t sing at all. Sing it sweet, and sing it loud!”

Whilst over in “An Open Letter To… The Straight Men of Australia” (p. 74), he asserts that they:

“… cop a raw deal, and that’s a culture that tells you to be a dumb, macho, insensitive piece of shit…

“But hey, the rest of us can only speculate what you’re feeling. Because god knows you can’t talk about flowery poofter stuff like feelings. Want to talk about your feelings? Clearly, you must be gay! Want to tell someone you’re sad? Go buy some tissues, gaylord! Want to ask someone whether that cardigan looks good on you? Whether you should call that girl? Whether it’s OK to drink white wine instead of a beer? Gay, gay, gay. Clearly, you’re so gay you poo rainbows…

“If you want to know what is or isn’t gay, ask me. I’m gay. I should know. Feel free to write this down somewhere so you don’t forget. Telling another dude he looks good? That’s not gay. (Women do that all the time, and you don’t see them going all weak-kneed for snatch afterwards…

“… ‘gay’ means feeling an uncontrollable urge to place yourself inside another man. Do you feel that urge? … if the answer is ‘yes’ or ‘sometimes’, well, you should come around to my place and talk. You know, about your ‘feelings’.”

Hil-al-arious!

And what I was originally going to make the first-ever “Magazine Clipping of the Week” before I’d ventured into the rest of frankie and realised it was worthy of a full review, is Rowena Grant-Frost’s essay on the dilemmas of sexiness=grown-upness (p. 40): sassy writing on a real-life issue.

Related: The Top Ten Books I Wanted to Read This Year But Didn’t.