TV: Gossip Girl Thinks Bloggers Aren’t Good Enough.

 

When Serena feels backed into a corner by Gossip Girl and has to defend herself by penning her own blog at the typically British-named Diana’s (played by Warney’s squeeze Liz Hurley) New York Spectator, Blair harangues her, saying, “I’ve always thought you were too good to blog.” Thanks Blair; great to know where we stand.

But Blair’s is not a unique viewpoint: traditional forms of information gathering and sharing view blogging as the black sheep of the family. Because seemingly anyone can run a blog (though not everyone can run a good blog), those who excel in their field are sometimes deemed not as worthy of acceptance and recognition as those in conventional or “old” media, who rose up the ranks the old fashioned way. We all know one bad blogger can give the rest of us a bad name.

It wasn’t just Serena and her overt blogging dilemma that was relevant to budding online wordsmiths. When Dan freaks out that his book, Inside, has dropped from number nine on the New York Times Bestseller list last week, to completely off the chart this week, and forgoes his book touring commitments, trust old Rufus gives him a pep talk:

“It just takes one person to connect with your art, who feels like you directly communicated with them, to start a groundswell. But you can’t connect with that person unless you show up.”

So, disheartened bloggers, if your blog’s not bringing in the hits yet, just you wait: provided the content’s good (and even if it’s not!), it’s only a matter of time before you start a groundswell of your own. Now I’ve just got to remember that myself…

Related: The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

Image via Home of the Nutty.

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.

Images via YouTube, Cover Me Songs.

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: Is Lea Michele Too Sexy?

Lea Michele Just Can’t Win.

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: You Give Men a Bad Name.

Elsewhere: [The Good Men Project] Manning Up.

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.

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.

You Give Men a Bad Name.

My friend April’s catch cry seems to be, “All men are assholes.” I refuse to believe this, but sometimes certain men can make it mighty hard.

A month or two ago I met this guy. We exchanged flirty eye contact and eventually I got up the courage to add him on Facebook; today’s equivalent of courtship’s first step. Flirty messages followed, and we eventually hooked up just before Christmas.

While I made no secret that I was into him, he was a little harder to read, however when he approached me at a party; kissed me; invited me back to his house that night; I figured it was safe to assume that he was into me, too. He whispered sweet nothings into my ear, told me I was making him crazy with some of the things I’d written to him (I didn’t think I’d written anything out of the ordinary, but each to their own) and led me to a secluded corner of the party for more of the same. Again, safe to assume he was into me.

Then, after a couple of emails the next few days about how we were each feeling (physically, not emotionally) the day after the party, nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

I’d even asked him if, after Christmas, he’d like to catch up for a drink to get to know each other better. A date, I believe the kids call it these days. No reply. Come on, dude, you’re 30: grow up and call a sister back. Even just to tell me that you had fun that night, but that was all it’d amount to. We’re not in high school anymore.

And it wasn’t even like I’d gone back to his house like he’d asked. Maybe then it’d be understandable that all he’d wanted was sex and then decided to drop me like I was hot. But I went home with my friends and he went home with his. One friend suggested maybe all he had wanted was sex, and when he knew he couldn’t get that from me on the first date kiss, he figured I wasn’t worth the effort. (Full disclosure: I am.) But, again, JUST TELL ME! Is it really that hard to send a ten second email saying thanks, but no thanks?

What makes it even more awkward is that I work with him. Not in the same department, but close enough so that I see him several times a week. And he’s nice as pie, smiles, says hello, asks how I am. I smile curtly and respond; we’re adults, after all, even if he hasn’t really been demonstrating this.

Why do men insist on acting this way? And, I’m sure, a lot of men would assert that women act hot and cold, too. I’ve certainly been guilty of it in the past but, as I mature, I prefer to tell people straight if they’ve upset me or if I’m just not that into them.

Even one of the guys I’ve spoken to about my dilemma boiled his actions down to his Y chromosome. I just don’t believe this. I know plenty of men who are the polar opposite of this trope; then again, I know plenty of men who adhere to it. I suppose, despite what pop culture, bogus science and years of socialisation have told us, it’s really all about the individual, no matter whether they come from Venus or Mars. Douches come from both planets.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Men & Women Are Sooo Different, According to Sketchy Research.