Movie Review: Mirror Mirror*.

I’ll be honest: I didn’t have high hopes for Mirror Mirror, what could have been a fantastic feminist take (girl saves boy; a commentary on beauty) on the classic Snow White tale but ended up being an offensive Disney-esque been-there, done-that effort.

Actually, Mirror Mirror did incorporate some of the abovementioned themes, but not in the ways I would have liked.

Firstly, let’s start with beauty. As an older woman, Julia Roberts’ character, the Queen, believes the only way she’ll make an impression as an older woman on the newly discovered Prince Alcott (the delectable Armie Hammer) is to up the ante on her beauty regime, which includes bees stinging her lips and bird poo being massaged into her face. This is not unlike what many women do on a regular basis, but I didn’t put two and two together until later in the film, when Snow White is about to kiss the Prince to break the puppy love-for-the-Queen spell he’s under. One of her seven dwarf-bandit comrades, Napoleon, thinks she needs a bit of sprucing up before her first kiss. The message here is not only that, clearly, older women need to do more to their bodies and faces in order to compete with younger women and stay relevant, but that something along those lines also applies to younger women. If you’re engaging in intimate acts with a member of the opposite sex, you need to look and act a certain way. It seeks to cement the notion that beauty is the main virtue a woman can have. If she doesn’t have it, she’s deemed worthless. If she does, like Lily Collins’ Snow, she’s got to work even harder to maintain it and play it up.

This confining notion of beauty is also represented in the seven dwarves, who were banished from the village by the Queen for being “ugly” and “undesirable”. The film could have run with the whole non-able-bodied-people-being-excluded-from-everyday-able-bodied-society angle, but instead that was pretty much the last thing we heard about that.

There was a lot of emphasis on the Queen being “crazy” and “mad” because she clawed her way to the top and would do anything to stay there, including poisoning the Prince in order for him to fall in love with her. When Snow decides to run away from her castle prison and join the dwarves, and Prince Alcott discovers this he, too, calls her “crazy” and “mad”. So standing up for what you believe in, whether that is something that other people think is a noble pursuit or not, makes you crazy. Oh, clarification: this only applies if you’re female.

Because you won’t be taken seriously by your male nemesis if you deign to step outside the boundaries set for you by the patriarchy, don’t you know? When Prince Alcott is confronted with the militant Snow White, he refuses to “fight a girl”, much less one that also “throws like a girl” and whom he would kiss if she wasn’t trying to kill him. The Prince takes to spanking Snow with his sword as they engage in combat, which was a confusing amalgamation of offensiveness and sexiness. I mean, I wouldn’t say no to a spanking from Armie Hammer, but in a movie seemingly geared towards children with a superficial pro-heroine stance, I don’t think it was entirely appropriate nor crucial to the story.

Finally, let’s look at domestic violence and animal abuse. When the Prince is under the puppy love spell and captured by Snow and the dwarves for torture, he claims his “only pain is being absent from my wife[-to-be]”, who doesn’t treat him so well in the first place. That he’s essentially a dog in this scene makes a certain point about animal cruelty, I think: that no matter how badly you treat a dog, as man’s best friend, they’ll always come back to you. Much like battered-wife syndrome, wouldn’t you say?

On that, when one of the dwarves tries to claim that Prince Alcott is clearly in love with Snow, and another exclaims, “He tried to kill her today!” the defence is, “Of course! What do you think love is?” That kind of “love” is dubious at best.

And so was this movie.

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Image via YouTube, IMDb.

TV: Gossip Girl—Is Serena Our Generation’s Dominick Dunne?

That’s according to Nate, anyway, who talks up Serena’s expose on Ivy Dickens’ stealing her family’s money for The Spectator to a potential investor for the newspaper. “Serena’s writing from the inside. She’s our generation’s Dominick Dunne.”

Like Packed to the Rafters’ Julie penning a chapter for a romance novel competition and suddenly she’s a writer, Serena exploits her social butterfly standing to write a gossip column and she’s hailed as the society writer du jour. Is that my bitter blogger coming through…?

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

The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

The Beautiful & the Damned: Serena Settles for Second Best.

Pretty But Dumb: Serena’s Tertiary Education Predicament.

Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne Review.

The Mansions of Limbo by Dominick Dunne Review.

Image via SerenavanderWoodsen.com.

In the News: Presidential Barbie Stands on Her Own Two (Weighted) Feet.

Last week she went bald, this week she’s running for president (again). Is there anything Barbie can’t do?

Jezebel notes that Barbie has been running for office on and off since 1992, when she wore an evening gown. Now she wears a sensible pink suit and weighted shoes so that she can stand up on her own two feet for the first time ever. Now there’s a campaign slogan to rival Obama’s “Yes we can”.

In the spirit of inclusion, and perhaps harkening back to Obama’s historic win, the I Can Be… President Barbie, released in conjunction with The White House Project which aims to get more women running for office, comes in white, Hispanic, Asian and African American ethnicities.

Related: Bald Barbie: Actually, Barbie Won’t Be Bald At All. Instead, It’ll Be Her Best Friend.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Barbie is Running for President (Again)!

[New York Daily News] Her Dream Job! Barbie Running for President?

Image via Styleite.

TV: New Girl—Sexual Harassment is a Myth. You Just Need to Give People a Chance to Show You How Good They Are.

This is according to New Girl, the purveyor of upholding gender stereotypes.

When Jess invites the landlord to dinner as a thanks for fixing some things around the loft, Nick is certain he’s trying to hit on her because people are generally jerks. I tend to stick with Nick on this one, but Jess isn’t so sure.

Nick is 100% right when it turns out the landlord wants to have a threesome with Jess and Nick. While there’s nothing wrong with this if all parties are consenting, Jess agrees to go along with it in the hopes that it will all work out for the best (ie. no threesome occurs) and Nick refuses to back out until Jess does.

To me, this whole scenario not only reeks of perpetrator-sympathising* (Maybe he slipped and fell. Maybe he was going through a bad breakup. Maybe he was stressed at work.**), but that the way a woman acts determines how she will be treated by the opposite sex.

Granted, in my experience and the experiences of those close to me, the female is deemed “too friendly” and that’s why she was harassed, whereas here, Jess thinks being nicer to people will lead to less bad things happening (like Nick getting a gun pulled on him in the parking lot). I believe there was also a reference in there about the way Jess looks (ie. über-feminine) influencing how she’s treated by the opposite sex. Like I haven’t heard that one before…

*To be sure, Remy the landlord is not committing sexual assault or harassment here, but I think he serves as a good metaphor.

**This refers to strictly male-on-female harassment and assault, ignoring the fact that women can be perpetrators, too.

Related: Manic Pixie Dream Girly Girls & Not-So-Girly Girls.

New Girl Should Attend a SlutWalk Sometime…

Body Acceptance on the New Girl.

Who’s That Girl? It’s the New Girl.

The Harassed and the Harassed-Nots.

The Taboos of Sexual Harassment.

I Ain’t No Hollaback Girl: Street Harassment in CLEO.

Image via VidXDen.

Magazines: Cover of the Week—Vanity Killed the TV Star.

I’m a sucker for a TV issue. (Nylon’s September TV issue is my most anticipated issue for the year.)

Vanity Fair may be more concerned with higher-brow television than I am, but featured in the issue are Kat Dennings of 2 Broke Girls and Emily Van Camp from Revenge, so there are some guilty pleasures amongst the Mad Men and Golden Globe winners.

Image via Vanity Fair.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Ashley Judd slaps down body- (and face-) shamers. [Daily Beast]

A fictional tale (though a very realistic one) of what it’s like to promise your purity to your dad. [Jezebel]

So Tony Abbott’s sister is gay. Now what? [MamaMia]

Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton et al: don’t hate the player, hate the game. [Daily Life]

Republicans aren’t the only ones making jokes at the ladies’ expense. Obama does it too :( [Jezebel]

The Hunger Games killed it at the box office because Katniss Everdeen was portrayed as a subject as opposed to a “Fighting Fuck Toy”. [Ms. Magazine]

Following on from last week’s Rachel Hills asexuality article, Rachel Rabbit White on “graysexuality”:

“… ‘But sex itself is just a set of physical activities, it’s easy to imagine someone who’s not into them once you take all the symbolism away.’

“Sex positivity works to broaden our understanding of what sex is (e.g., not just penis in vagina, but body part + body part = pleasure). But what if we also set out to broaden our understanding of intimacy—intimacy is not just sex, but also…—perhaps a new picture would unfold. One where people realize they don’t need to have sex when what they want is intimacy. One where, maybe, there would be a little more gray in our sex-drives.” [Jezebel]

An interesting take on all the Snow White reboots. [io9]

What it’s like to be a guy who reads (or read) Judy Blume. [Jezebel]

Women don’t hate other women for being beautiful. They hate them for having delusions of grandeur, like Samantha Brick. [MamaMia]

Mia Freedman interviews Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg about Matthew Newton. Carr-Gregg seems to think we need to reexamine our views around mental illness and give Newton a fair go. Um, the kid’s been charged three times in the past year and beats up people on a regular basis. I’d say he’s been more than given a fair go. What do you think? [MamaMia]

Image via MSNBC.

In the News: Bald Barbie—Actually, Barbie Won’t Be Bald At All. Instead, It’ll Be Her Best Friend.

On the one hand, we need to applaud Mattel for accepting an “outside idea” for Bald & Beautiful Barbie, which aims to lessen the stigma of hair loss due to cancer treatment for young girls and their mothers who have the disease.

On the other, it’s not going to actually be Barbie who’s bald, but her bestie. Let’s just hope that this time she’ll be able to get into the Barbie Dream House, unlike the last doll they tried to make in honour of people who don’t fit the able-bodied norm: Share-a-Smile Becky, whose wheelchair didn’t fit inside the Dream House doors. Whoops!

So with this new doll, Mattel might be saying that bald is beautiful, just as long as it’s not Barbie who loses her hair. Baldness is beneath Barbie, don’t you know?

One step forward, two steps back…

Related: My Week in Pictures 16th February, 2012.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Barbie’s Friend Will Soon be Bald & Beautiful.

Image via Jezebel.

My Week in Pictures.

New puppy!

As of yesterday I’m a mama and the proud new owner of a dog!

She is currently nameless, but is a five-year-old fox terrier I adopted from The Lost Dog’s Home in North Melbourne (half price adoptions for the rest of the school holidays, so get on it!). She had patella surgery two weeks ago so favours falling asleep on the couch or bed next to me, as you can see from the photos, but I’m told once she’s recuperated she loves going for jogs. So do I! It’s a match made in heaven.

What do you think I should name her?

That’s not the kind of rabbit you should be looking for, Eddie!

Easter egg hunt.

I had to work over Easter, so the housemate and I decided to do an Easter egg hunt on Good Friday, in the Women’s Garden near our house. Eddie went first and hid some eggs for me to find, then while he went to the servo for a drink, I hid some eggs for him.

Apparently that wasn’t enough though, because when I woke up on Sunday morning I found a fresh stash of Easter eggs waiting for me! Thanks, Eddie!

WrestleMania 28.

After my trip to Bendigo last week, the housemate and I had a catch up over pizza, ice cream and WrestleMania. How very American.

For you wrestling fans, I’ll just briefly state that I was quite disappointed in the whole spectacle this year. As much as everyone hates John Cena and it was The Rock’s hometown, I think Cena should have won; CM Punk VS. Chris Jericho was lacklustre and hardly a showcase of “the best in the world”; Triple H VS. The Undertaker was probably the best match of the night, but still didn’t live up to high expectations.

Lipstick & Dynamite.

Staying with the wrestling theme, Zoe, her boyfriend, her friend and I went to ACMI on Sunday night to watch a doco on the history of “lady wrestling”; emphasis on the history. The doco focussed on the original female professional wrestlers, like Mae Young, The Fabulous Moolah and Ella Waldek. It talked about the original women’s wrestling promoter, Billy Wolfe, and how he was a latter-day Vince McMahan, exploiting the “girl wrestlers” as eye candy. As Gladys “Kill ‘Em” Gillem said, if you weren’t wrestling for Wolfe, you were an “outlaw outfit”.

The doco also dealt with the abundance of sexual assault and domestic violence suffered by the ladies featured, and how some of them got into the business to protect themselves. Little did they know, the wrestling business can spit you out and leave you worse off than before. If there’s one thing I really got from Lipstick & Dynamite, it was that; wrestlers don’t belong to a union and if they’re deemed unmarketable (back then, female wrestlers were seen as “novelty” acts, along with midget wrestling, tag teams and non-white wrestlers) or injured, they’re brushed aside as yesterday’s news.

Mirror Mirror.

Well, that was an exercise in how not to do Snow White. Review to come.

The stack.

I’ve been spamming everyone’s Facebook feeds with quotes from Fragments of Marilyn Monroe’s notes, letters and poems. I’ve still got a few pages to go in the semi-coffee table book, and I’ve already begun reading the gargantuan tome that is Bret Hart’s memoir. Would you expect anything less from a former professional wrestler (I promise, that rounds out the wrestling theme for the week)?

In magazine land, I wouldn’t normally buy Shop Til You Drop (despite it being a consistently great magazine, I really don’t need one that encourages me to buy even more!), but I think the puppies and Leighton Meester on the cover pulled me in. Apparently, next month’s issue features items that are all available online. Hmm, I might have to break my no-Shop rule for that one…

Related: My Week in Pictures 5th April, 2012.

Was This What Marilyn Monroe was Really Thinking When She was Filming The Prince & the Showgirl?

Image via Bleacher Report.

Books: Was This What Marilyn Monroe Was Really Thinking When She Was Filming The Prince & the Showgirl?

From Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe edited by Stanley Buchthal & Bernard Comment:

“Fear of giving me the lines new

maybe won’t be able to learn them

maybe I’ll make mistakes

people will either think I’m no good or

laugh or belittle me or think I can’t act.

Women looked stern and critical—

unfriendly and cold in general

afraid director won’t think I’m any good.

remembering when I couldn’t do a god

damn thing.

then trying to build myself up with the

fact that I have done things right that

were even good and have had moments

that were excellent but the bad is heavier

to carry around and feel have no confidence

depressed mad”

According to archival information, this was actually written in 1951 while The Prince & the Showgirl was released in 1957. So perhaps these weren’t Marilyn’s exact thoughts during the filming of the movie that was the basis for this year’s My Week with Marilyn, but it just goes to show she was plagued by insecurities from the beginning.

Related: My Week with Marilyn Review.

Fragments of Marilyn Monroe’s Literary Life.

All Eyes on Marilyn.

Image via The Passionate Movie Goer.

Movie Review: The Hunger Games*.

Now, The Hunger Games is a lesson in how to do young adult with a female in the lead, Stephenie Meyer.

***

I was a bit apprehensive about buying into The Hunger Games hype but, as a blogger, I thought it imperative that I read the book and the see the movie to understand what all the hype was about and, at the very least, to get a blog post out of it. (That’s my reasoning for going to see American Pie: The Reunion next week, anyway!)

I’d read all the blog posts and cultural analyses of the film and book before I went to see it last Monday and finished it over this past weekend, respectively, so I had a pretty good idea of the storyline and the social commentary I’d be looking for. I don’t normally like to see the film version before I finish the original one (although my track record, with Twilight and, most recently, Water for Elephants and My Week with Marilyn, doesn’t bode well), but I actually found myself more immersed in The Hunger Games, as opposed to analysing each and every moment, when the film continued after where I’d reached in the book. (The pre-Hunger Games interviews, FYI.)

While the book is allegedly a commentary on the hell high school can be (like a post apocalyptic Buffy), I interpreted it more to be not only about capitalist life (the riches of the Capitol juxtaposed against the poverty and poor quality of life for the rest of Panem), but about advertising culture and the media.

The argument that seems to surround media today is that we should ban this, and censor that. Then we wouldn’t have eating disorders, negative stereotypes of women and minorities, obesity, gambling, domestic violence, blatant consumerism and pretty much anything else you can think of. Common sense would have us stop consuming the things we don’t feel align with our personal ethics. Don’t like the way animals are slaughtered in factory farms for our precious meat? Don’t eat it. Don’t like racism? Don’t be a racist. Don’t like leggings as pants? Don’t wear them. Don’t like children being chosen at random to fight to the death for the pleasure of the elite and the opportunity to make life a little more bearable for the underclass? Don’t watch it. If everyone adopted this attitude and no one watched, there wouldn’t be a product. As author Suzanne Collins notes her inspiration for the series as flicking television stations between war and reality TV, it’s not hard to come to this conclusion.

Despite the fact that no one really seems to be talking about the senseless mass murder of children by children (won’t somebody think of them?!), there is a point to “career tributes” like Cato and Glimmer, who are trained for the Hunger Games since birth.  As Laura Miller wrote in The New Yorker, “[W]hy isn’t it the poorer, hungrier districts that pool their resources to train Career Tributes, instead of the wealthier ones?”

I wasn’t as huge a fan as some others who’ve devoured the series in several sittings (I prefer to wait until the next filmic instalment is on the horizon to delve into the second book, as with Tomorrow, When the War Began, for example), but I did like it and look forward to seeing what the next two chapters bring; both book and film versions.

 

 

 

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Related: My Week in Pictures—5th April, 2012.

My Week with Marilyn Review. 

Event: Should Meat Be Off the Menu?

Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden Book/Movie Review.

Elsewhere: [The New Yorker] Fresh Hell.

Image via IMDb.