Movies: The Underlying Message in The Muppets Movie*.

Talk about a metatext!

It seems like every two minutes in The Muppets there was a thoroughly enjoyable self-aware reference and celebrity guest appearance. Gary presents Mary with some lacklustre flowers, which were squashed “probably from the dance number I was doing” in one of the opening scenes of the movie. When Mary laments in song Gary’s brother, Walter, joining them on an anniversary trip to Los Angeles, a gardener conveniently sprays water on the window she’s wistfully looking out of. When Statler and Waldorf introduce the “important plot point” involving oil tycoon Tex Richman drilling for oil under the old Muppet Theatre, Walter tries to get the Muppets back together to save it. When this fails to come to fruition midway through, Mary remarks, “This is going to be a really short movie.” And let’s not forget Camilla and the other chickens’ performance of “Forget You”. You can’t get much more meta than that!

As for the cameos, take Jack Black and his School of Rock cast mate Sarah Silverman, for example. Or Dave Grohl on drums for The Muppets cover band, the Moopets, and the later performance by The Muppets Barbershop Quartet of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Or Amy Adams as Mary, and her Sunshine Cleaning co-star Emily Blunt in her very Devil Wears Prada-role as Miss Piggy’s secretary. Even Blunt’s real life husband, John Kransinki, makes an appearance. Phew!

But, we’re reminded, celebrities are fair game because they are “not a people”. Makes a poignant comment on our celebrity-saturated society.

That’s the not the only point The Muppets makes. Richman is the personification of the 1% and, like the Moopets, is “a hard, cynical act for a hard, cynical world.”

The film also seeks to promote diversity and acceptance, I thought. Take, for example, the Ebony magazine cover that Kermit fronts, which is traditionally a magazine for African Americans, and how this might represent the Muppets as being beyond racial definition. I also got the feeling that Walter was marketed to be a differently-abled person, which would certainly explain Gary’s reluctance to let Walter go when he is accepted into the Muppet clan and his sheltered existence in Smalltown up til then.

On the first watching of the film, I noticed in particular that Kermit wont tell Miss Piggy he loves her, which is all she asks of him. It reminded me of the Blair and Chuck storyline in Gossip Girl from a few years ago: their back-and-forth love story that depends on Blair needing to hear those words and Chuck never being able to say them. On second watching, I confirmed that, in fact, Kermit never does say “I love you”.

The second time around was more enjoyable. While I originally got to see the film a month before it came out in Australia—and for free!—being in an audience of primarily under 10s wasn’t as good as being in an almost-empty theatre consisting only of Generation X’s who grew up with the Muppets. There was, however, a group of about six teenage fanboys sitting behind me. I was originally annoyed by their chatting in the first ten minutes of the film, but I actually laughed more at them than at the movie when they slid off their seats during the appearances of Neil Patrick Harris and Jim Parsons. But, after watching “Muppet or a Man”, can you really blame them?

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Month in Pictures.

Images via YouTube, Cover Me Songs.

Magazines: Cover of the Week… with Michelle Williams as Marilyn.

It’s only January and here we have another Marilyn Monroe-inspired photoshoot.

Don’t get me wrong, I love some Marilyn nostalgia, and Michelle Williams is everywhere with Oscar buzz for her role in My Week with Marilyn, out in Australia on February 18, so she should rightfully be channelling her inner tragic screen siren for the cover of GQ.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Magazine Cover of the Week: Lindsay Lohan’s Latest Foray in Marilyn Monroe Impersonation.

Image via The Gloss.

My Week in Pictures.

Laura admonishes Ken for guessing the more complicated “halitosis” as opposed to the winning, Team Awesome-guessed “bad breath”.

I drew totem tennis and April drew the solar system, both correctly guessed by the opposite team member.

The Taj Mahal. I managed to get in before Ken could guess Laura’s attempt at the building.

Farewell Pictionary tournament.

To send off Laura back to her home town of Perth, April and I took on her and Ken in a best of nine (which started out as a best of three, then best of five, then best of seven) Pictionary tournament. Team Awesome, which yours truly belongs to, won all nine games. Nice way to say goodbye, I think!

The stack.

More to come on Big Porn Inc. next week as I marvel at some of the blatant propaganda in the tome!

The view of the sunset from our room. The colours remind me of The Little Mermaid for some reason.

Checking out creepy crawlies at Cape Schanck.

A flock of seagulls having a conniption over some rogue chips.

The Peninsula mini-break.

The beach has been calling me for months, and on Monday I honoured my New Year’s resolution to take more mini-breaks with a trip to Cape Schanck with a friend from work, Deb. We stayed at the RACV Cape Schanck resort which was lovely, if a bit far away from the water.

So to remedy that, we drove down to Sorrento, had fish and chips on the beach in Rosebud, trekked down the Cape, vintage shopped in Flinders, bathed at the Peninsula Hot Springs, swam in the infinity pool at the resort, and dipped out feet at Mount Martha. Not bad for two nights away!

Magazines: Dakota Fanning & Lea Michele’s Cosmo Covers—Why Are Anti-Child Sexualisation Activists Kicking Up a Stink?

Outrage has ensued after 17-year-old Dakota Fanning appeared on the cover of US Cosmo as their Fun, Fearless Female of the Year, which echoes the reaction to Lea Michele’s plunging neckline cover from the same time last year.

The difference is, though, that Michele is a 25-year-old and Fanning is 17. I’ve written before on letting grown women get their sexy on to their heart’s content, and I’m going to say the same thing here about Fanning.

While I do agree that her Marc Jacobs Lola perfume ad should have been banned (it was probably shot when she was younger than her 17 years, makes her look a lot younger, too, and suggestively places an oversized perfume bottle between her legs), Fanning looks no sexier on the Cosmo cover than she does on the red carpet. And did anyone see The Runaways?

As a 17-year-old young woman, she’s around the age a lot of teens start becoming sexually active. I was 15 when I started reading Cosmo (albeit the far more well-rounded Australian version) and became sexually active soon after. I’m not saying the two go hand in hand, but teens Fanning’s age are naturally sexually curious.

As some commentators have added, magazines buy images and interviews of stars from photo agencies, and very often the celebrities haven’t approved and have no idea they’re featured in certain mags. Fanning’s reps haven’t commented on the Cosmo cover, leading us to draw our own conclusions as to what she thinks of this hullabaloo.

Furthermore, Fanning’s a child star; how many fellow graduates have made a seamless transition into adulthood and being taken seriously as an adult performer? Lindsay Lohan? Britney Spears? The Coreys? Mischa Barton?

Considering Fanning’s—to my mind—tame outing on a young women’s magazine cover compared with, say, Nikki Webster’s attempt to be seen as an adult, I’d say she’s doing pretty well. No need to start panicking yet.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Is Lea Michele Too Sexy?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Lea Michele Just Can’t Win.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Disturbing Behaviour: Terry Richardson Does Glee.

Images via Eonline, CocoPerez.

Okay, So Maybe I Was Wrong… You Give Men a Bad Name Revisited.

The morning after I wrote “You Give Men a Bad Name” I woke to an email in my inbox from the subject of the post.

I took a deep breath and prepared myself for the ripping of a new asshole.

However, I was pleasantly surprised.

He apologised for not returning my email, explained why he didn’t, and acknowledged that he had been a douchebag and that I deserve to be treated better.

Not what I was expecting AT ALL.

As I told him, I never expected him to ever see the post. The blog is publicised on Facebook, but only two of my friends actually read my stuff on the regular. I find it easier to write unselfconsciously when I think no one’s going to read it. Dancing like no one’s watching, or something.

But, while I still think he should have manned humanned up” in the first instance and just called me back to say thanks, but no thanks, I have to commend him for his response to criticism. Not many people can respond to being called out like that and acknowledge that they were wrong.

A couple of close friends who I told about the email responded in a myriad of ways: one cried; one grimaced; one said they didn’t see anything good about the email because he still had to be called out by me; and one called it incredibly sweet.

But all that really matters is what I thought of it, and I thought it was quite noble. His backstory allowed me to understand why he did the things he did (or didn’t do the things he didn’t do). It provided me with closure and has allowed me to move on. And it made me realise that he doesn’t give men a bad name.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] You Give Men a Bad Name.

Elsewhere: [The Good Men Project] Manning Up.

On the Net: It’s Hard Out There for a Man?

From “The Truth About Universal Masculinity” by Mark Manson on The Good Men Project:

“Camille Paglia once wrote, ‘A woman simply is, but a man must become. Masculinity is risky and elusive. It is achieved by a revolt from woman, and it is confirmed only by other men’… Whereas a woman’s femininity is implicit by simply being and birthing, a man’s must be proven through action.”

While I don’t agree totally with this contention (a lot of women struggle to, and are chastised for, deviating from traditional femininity), Manson and Paglia do raise an interesting point about modern masculinity.

A Good Men Project commenter, Budmin, wrote in response to my “Manning Up” post last week:

“Women have more flexibility to self identify with what ever level of aggression or passivity they see fit. Their femininity thus their humanity is not on constant trial. It can’t be taken away from them. It’s theirs and theirs alone.

“Masculinity is the act of suppressing all insecurities so that one may project the illusion of dominance for the satisfaction and protection of others.”

Anyone who knows me (or anyone who reads this blog) knows that I’m a feminist through and through, and that the idea of a “post-feminist” society is spurious. But, provided the right infrastructure and support is in place in an individual female’s life, she does have the opportunities to be anything she wants to be. Sure, she’ll probably be judged for it by misogynists and traditionalists, but does she have as hard a time as a man does stepping outside of the rigid stereotype we’ve put in place for him?

I can’t stand poor-straight-white-wealthy-male problems, but should we diminish the individual struggles to “be a man” men face today because they’re not deemed as “worthy” as the struggles women or people of colour or gay men and women or the poor or the disabled or transgender people face? Who are we to say that someone’s inner demons aren’t as bad as the next person’s?

Now is as good a time as any to be a man but, I think, once everyone realises that gender is just a performance, we’ll all be able to get on with our lives in a way that’s right for us, regardless of the body parts we were born with and what society expects from us because of said body parts.

Elsewhere: [The Good Men Project] The Truth About Universal Masculinity.

[The Good Men Project] Manning Up.

The Growing Appeal of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

I’ve always been a fierce Megan Fox fan so, when it was revealed that Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley would replace her in the third Transformers movie, Dark of the Moon, I was livid.

While no one could accuse Fox of having irreplaceable acting chops, Huntington-Whiteley’s only credited “acting” role prior to Carly Spencer, Shia LaBeouf’s girlfriend in the film, was as a Victoria’s Secret Angel in their fashion shows, catalogues and videos.

To begin with, I couldn’t stand her. How dare she muscle in on Fox’s role as LabBeouf’s girlfriend, with her pouty lips and Jason Statham by her side?

But then I saw an interview with her on Ellen and I didn’t hate her. In fact, I quite liked her. Her accent, her personality and, yes, those lips.

So in preparation for writing this post, I watched Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Now, that’s two and a half hours of my life I’ll never get back, and Michael Bay’s continued objectification of his female lead was sickening. When Patrick Dempsey’s character introduces Sam Witwicky to a vintage sports car, describing how it was designed to mimic the curves of a woman’s body as the camera pans Huntington-Whiteley’s equally impressive body, it made me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

Rosie’s probably no different than any other good looking female action star who’s graduated from modeling, but there’s something about her that doesn’t make me hate her.

How do you feel about Rosie Huntington-Whiteley?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Megan Fox Too Spicy for Transformers?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] “She Just Wants Attention.”

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Beautiful, Bigmouthed Backlash Against Katherine Heigl & Megan Fox.

Image via PicPiggy.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Check me out on The Good Men Project!

On sex work by a sex worker. [The Age]

“Have you lost weight?” is not a compliment. One of my close male friends has recently lost a lot of weight, and the resounding comment that seems to follow him wherever he goes is, “You look so hot now that you’ve lost weight,” or something to that effect. Firstly, what did he look like before? Hideous? Unlovable? Gross? And secondly, is he worthy of affection and admiration now because he’s not fat anymore? Just. Plain. Wrong. [Broadist]

Rick Santorum, the Iowa caucus and what the 2012 Republican landscape could very well look like. Hint: not good. [The Punch]

And some more on Santorum’s scary reproductive rights views. [Jezebel]

AND, a rundown of what the Iowa caucus actually entails, anyway. [Jezebel]

How my heart warms: a child with Down Syndrome is modeling for Target in the U.S.! [Jezebel]

Mia Freedman on Deborah Hutton’s nude posing for The Australian Women’s Weekly. [MamaMia]

Sometimes it’s okay to be a quitter. [Gala Darling]

Camilla Peffer on street harassment. [Girls Are Made From Pepsi]

How to really talk to girls about beauty. [Jezebel]

Images via The Good Men Project, MamaMia.

Magazines: Cover of the Week—Rachel McAdams on Ryan Gosling and Men, Men, Men!

While Rachel McAdams looks gorgeous on the Valentine’s-themed cover of Glamour, it’s what she says inside that is the real drawcard.

From Jezebel:

“GLAMOUR: I’ve heard you don’t read your press. Do you read about other people?
“RACHEL MCADAMS: Not really, no.
“GLAMOUR: So you’re not aware that Ryan Gosling has become a huge feminist icon?
“RACHEL MCADAMS: Feminist icon? Wow! Is that real?
“GLAMOUR: There are blogs upon blogs!
“RACHEL MCADAMS: Oh my God, that’s great.”

Indeed. She’s so cute!

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Rachel McAdams Had No Idea Her Ex, Ryan Gosling, is a Feminist Icon Now.

[Feminist Ryan Gosling] Homepage.

Image via Daily Stab.

On the Net: Megan Fox May Be Trying To Step Away from Marilyn Monroe, But They Might Be More Similar Than She Knows.

From “Eternal Flame” by Liza Power for The Age/Sydney Morning Herald:

“… [Marilyn] was also a trickster, a person who satirised herself at the same time that she was putting over this intensely feminine image.”

Sound a little like someone else we know? Even as Megan Fox tries to distance herself from the legendary screen siren by removing her Marilyn tattoo, they seem more similar than ever.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Is Robert Pattinson the Male Version of Megan Fox?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Megan Fox Transforms from “Android ice Queen” to Relatable Person.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Megan Fox Too Spicy for Transformers?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] “She Just Wants Attention.”

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Beautiful, Bigmouthed Backlash Against Katherine Heigl & Megan Fox.

Elsewhere: [Sydney Morning Herald] Eternal Flame.

Image via Vigilant Citizen.