Event: A Very Manhattan Halloween.

halloween miley cyrus robin thicke

halloween marilyn monroe

orange is the new black costume

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We found Wally (or Waldo, as they are wont to call him over here).

ursula the little mermaid costume

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Pets on parade.

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greenwich village halloween parade 2013

Feminists in arms. (Norma Jean did work in the factories during World War II, after all, just like Rosie!)

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regina george halloween costume

On Wednesdays we wear pink.

greenwich village halloween parade 2

tonto halloween costume

greenwich village halloween parade 2013

jellyfish halloween costume

the birds halloween costume

Unfortunately you can’t see The Birds, but this is Tippi Hedren.

In New York City’s Greenwich Village Halloween Parade I was surprised to be the only Marilyn Monroe in attendance that I could see. There were some arguably culturally insensitive costumes (a Tonto and a plethora of “sexy” Native Americans), a Banksy, some political statements (anti-fracking, anti-spying) and a kick-ass version of Orange is the New Black, complete with whiteface, marching in one of New York City’s most revered institutions.

Revelers dressed as jellyfish with umbrellas ruled the night and came prepared for the rain that was forecast and appeared on schedule as the parade began around 7pm. 60,000 people were expected to show up to walk and, seeing as last years festivities were interrupted by superstorm Sandy, 2013’s Halloween was a long awaited one. New Yorkers have a knack for rising above adversity and Thursday night was no exception.

While the parade is certainly an event that adults relish the opportunity to participate in, being a non-alcohol and -drug-fuelled event there were plenty of children and pets dressed up and ready to march up 6th Avenue, between Spring and 16th Streets, where the parade ended. A few blocks away (thought that didn’t stop my party from getting lost in transit!) was the official parade after party at Webster Hall, transformed into Webster Hell for the festivities. Thousand-dollar prizes were given to the best dressed, which included a white Little Wayne, Regina George, several Rosie the Riveters (the best one I saw came replete with the posters’ yellow background festooned to her in cardboard, which we didn’t manage to catch on camera) and many a Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus. A virgin was sacrificed on an occult alter at midnight, which we unfortunately missed on one of the many floors of partying. Tickets to the after party don’t come cheap, though, starting at $40 and increasing as the event draws closer (I paid $75 for my ticket, while those who opted to buy on the door were looking at $100 a pop!). Webster Hall undoubtedly pulled in an exorbitant amount of cash in ticket and bar sales, but the actual parade relied on $50,000 of KickStarter donations to get up and running again this year, as they were uninsured for the effects of Sandy.

Halloween is certainly gaining traction in Australia, increasingly among adults as much as trick-or-treating children, but America goes all out. Part of the reason I’m in New York City at this time of year is specifically to attend the 40th anniversary of the parade and the after party, assembling my costume months in advance and carting it halfway across the world, while the friend I’m staying in the city with and I traipsed through the Upper East and West Side’s thrift stores in search of the finishing touches for her costume (a silent film star).

Halloween here is not for the faint-hearted; many residents and businesses adorn their facades in all manner of holiday paraphernalia, soccer mums ferry their kids to and from school in costume, and over $7 billion is spent on costumes, candy and general Halloween merriment. No matter how you feel about it, All Hallows Eve is an exercise in Americana that doesn’t look to be going anywhere any time soon, especially not in the heart of New York City.

Related: Quarter Century Costumes & Cocktails.

My Week in Pictures: Birthday Edition.

The Witching Hour: Halloween/My Birthday at Witches in Britches Cabaret.

Elsewhere: [DNAinfo.com New York] Village Halloween Parade Needs $50K to Recover from Hurricane Sandy.

Images via April Bonnick.

Event: Anne Summers in Conversation with Julia Gillard.

julia gillard melbourne conversation anne summers

Of course Sydney had to go and rain on Melbourne’s parade with all the newsworthy items from Julia Gillard’s first public interview since she was ousted as Prime Minister on 27th June this year coming out of her conversation with Anne Summers at the Opera House last Monday night.

But, from some of the reports I read (I didn’t watch the live broadcast on ABC News 24 as I wanted to be surprised for Tuesday night in Melbourne), the Sydney event was more of a girly advice session than a discussion of her time in the top job and what her future entails.

Luckily, Melbourne took the latter route, with #JuliaTalks(ing) about her sexist treatment (which spawned Anne Summers’ The Misogyny Factor) by the media, her colleagues in parliament and the general public. While the exasperated woman sitting next to me kept groaning every time sexism was brought up (seriously, considering the tone of her time in the top job, why would you go to a Julia Gillard talk with one of Australia’s most prominent feminists and not expect to hear about this?), I was pleased with the topics discussed.

Gillard talked about how she was working towards a “Labor government focussed on women and girls” but that’s now shot to shit along with the in-power government’s view of women. When asked how she feels about Tony Abbott assigning himself the portfolio of the Status of Women, Gillard reiterated her Sydney sentiments in that he should rely heavily on Tanya Plibersek and that she hopes “he finds it the most character building task of his prime ministership”.

On her famous misogyny speech—one year old today—Gillard certainly didn’t foresee it “going off on social media” but, to be fair, she certainly “didn’t foresee the level of misogyny” that marred her prime ministership, either. While on one hand, Gillard relayed an anecdote of her time as a lawyer with Slater & Gordon (“You may have heard about my time with the firm,” she joked) and the bitter clients she encountered to illustrate that she isn’t going to have that outlook on what transpired—“You can have a crap rest of your life or you can move on”, she was surprised at the “benign” reaction to her sexist treatment by the media. If the “Ditch the Witch” and “Bob Brown’s Bitch” signs and slurs had been geared towards a black politician, the media and the general public would rightly be uproarious, she said. She was also disappointed that no politicians from parties other than her own reached out to her to offer their support during the height of her misogynist treatment. (Who could really say what the “height” was? It lasted all throughout her run.)

Another high profile person she was disappointed in who criticised her unfairly and irrelevantly was Germaine Greer, who made those inappropriate comments about the way she dresses and the size of her ass. I, along with so many others, I’m sure, wish she would just admit that she said the wrong thing instead of repeatedly defending her comments.

But Gillard could take a page out of that playbook when it comes to her views on marriage equality. If Gillard truly believes that there are “different ways of acknowledging love and personal commitment than marriage”, hence why she doesn’t advocate same-sex unions, then that’s fine (except not really). But I have a sneaking suspicion that she really does believe in equality, both in marriage and otherwise. (Though her asylum seeker policies left much to be desired, and she did express sorrow for the current discourse on refugees.) I just wish she would come out and say it.

Much of Gillard’s prime ministership was steeped in disdain, but audience member Evie, 11, asked if she had “any fun being Prime Minister?” Gillard replied that she gets a kick out of the fact that her treatment whilst leading the country means that 11-year-olds know the word “misogyny”. In all seriousness, though, Gillard does hope that “more inspiration than anxiety is passed on to [the next] generation.”

Related: The Misogyny Factor by Anne Summers Review.

In Conversation with Germaine Greer.

Event: Destroying the Joint? at Melbourne Writers Festival.

The opening paragraph of disability activist and writer Stella Young’s chapter in the recently released tome Destroying the Joint begins thusly:

“Destroy the joint? Shit, I’d be happy just to be allowed in the joint.”

And on Sunday, when the Melbourne Writers Festival event Destroying the Joint? was held in Deakin Edge at Federation Square, Young might have been able to get in the joint, but she was certainly not able to get on the stage.

While inexcusable on the part of Fed Square and MWF, Young’s imposition did serve to remind us of a very important point: as a disabled woman, she cops a double-whammy of discrimination.

The event started only a few minutes late as organisers scrambled to move the stage to an accessible level, and Young explained that sadly, she’s come to expect things like this. Whereas when she was younger she might have consented to being lifted onto the stage and having a little cry about it, as a disability activist she will not allow ignorance to infantilise her anymore.

I definitely take my able-bodiedness for granted, but I can sort of relate in the sense that as a woman, I’ve come to expect to be harassed when I leave the house. This isn’t an everyday occurrence, to be sure, but it happens far too regularly for my liking. I’m sure many women can empathise.

This is why I will be attending SlutWalk this weekend; to have an opportunity to strut the streets in solidarity with likeminded people who won’t put up with street harassment, victim-blaming, slut-shaming and just plain bigotry and discrimination. Young will also be there as a speaker.

But back to last Sunday’s event, in which a show of hands indicated the amount of people who’ve protested or engaged in activism in some form in the past six months. Young and her fellow panellists, Destroying the Joint editor Jane Caro and author of The Activists’ Handbook Aidan Ricketts, stated the importance of physical protesting, like marching for refugees or marriage equality or attending SlutWalk, as opposed to slacktivism, which movements such as Kony 2012 and Destroy the Joint itself. Young even joked that she fantasises about chaining her wheelchair to a W-class (well, pretty much all except C- and D-class) tram in protest of their inaccessibility.

There has been much maligning of Destroy the Joint, with vocal opponents of it, such as Gretel Killeen and Helen Razer, deriding its angry tone. While I think getting outraged about things you’re passionate about can be useful, Caro asserts that spewing outrage doesn’t work. Young tended more towards my way of thinking, in that outrage as the primary emotion can be moulded into more constructive outlets and avenues: like SlutWalk and Destroy the Joint.

Caro also noted that it’s important to set small goals and always be moving the goalposts. Small aims are easier to reach, engender positivity and allow you to always be setting new victories to achieve.

Related: Hating Kony is Cool.

Women Say Something: Should We Destroy the Joint?

Event: Tavi’s World at Melbourne Writers Festival.

tavi gevinson melbourne writers festival

The coup of the 2013 Melbourne Writers Festival, which kicked off late last week, is undoubtedly 17-year-old blogging wunderkind Tavi Gevinson.

Her keynote address on Friday night at the Athenaeum Theatre sold out in a matter of hours, and we were stuck up the very top, practically in the rafters, which is what we get for arriving nigh on 6pm. Anyone who’s been on the internet in the past five years can see why Tavi is so popular; she’s an anomaly who attended fashion weeks before she was in her teens and now runs one of the best online magazines out there for not only young girls, but people in general, called Rookie. If I can’t be Tavi or have her as a friend, I’d like to know how, as Carrie Bickmore mused on The Project, to make a child like her. She’s got her shit exponentially more together than most adults I know.

Having said that, though, I’ve never been a die-hard Tavi fan. It wasn’t until she launched Rookie and started writing about feminism that I really caught what she was kicking. Her TEDx talk sealed the deal for me.

So apart from what I read on Twitter and in the odd interview, there was much that was new to me in Tavi’s talk. For example, I didn’t realise what a stone cold geek she is. If anyone else revealed they colour-coded Beyonce and Taylor Swift lyrics and made maps of the locations mentioned in Lana Del Rey songs I would have thought them tightly-wound nerds. (This coming from someone who spent hours cataloguing pictures from WWE.com by wrestler, colour-codes her bookshelf, and still stuck pictures of celebrities all over my school books well into university, mind you.) But Tavi has an endearing authenticity (which was a theme that ran through her talk) about being a “professional fangirl”. Her mantra, which I’m now going to adopt, is “let others like stuff the way you like stuff unto you.”

When many kids her age are more concerned with partying and their iPhones, it’s amazing that someone who’s still in high school and runs a business that sees her jetsetting across the world (and road tripping across the country) has time to compile in-depth journals about “Strange Magic” (the synchronicity of a location reminding you of a song reminding you of a memory reminding you of a movie reminding you of another song…) in between utilising her “pop culture tools” (the books, movies, tv shows and music that take her to her happy place; another Tavism I’m stealing).

I am so in awe of Tavi, honestly. It takes so much courage to reveal her fangirl idiosyncrasies to worldwide audiences whilst going through the awkwardness that is adolescence. Again, how do I make one of her…?

Elsewhere: [The Project] Tavi Gevinson.

[Rookie] Rookie Road Trip.

Image via MWF.

Event: Kin Collaborative’s Gaga & Assange at MUD Festival.

kin collaborative gaga assange

Lady Gaga and Julian Assange are two of the most recognisable names and faces in the world, so it was inevitable that someone would conceive a musical about the two.

And that someone is William Hannagan, the writer and co-director of Kin Collaborative’s MUD Festival entry, Gaga & Assange, a what-if reimagining of their meeting at Assange’s current home at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London last year. Hannagan describes Gaga & Assange as “a hypothetical romp with songs of epic pure pop proportions,” and it certainly was.

I thought Gaga & Assange was going to be a lot darker from the “leaked” trailer and premise of sex tapes and STIs, but I was pleasantly surprised by the campiness and outright hilarity of the show. Laura Raiti is the second coming of Gaga, not only physically embodying Mother Monster but tapping into her speech patterns, inflections and mannerisms (I would have liked to see some more paws up, though). And Chris Runciman is a convincing Assange, making an odd and unlikable (from my point of view) man a plausible love interest for Gaga.

The audience could see the themes of hypocrisy, fame and pretension both in the script and the music, composed by Jeremy Russo, which was brilliantly original and would not be out of place on an actual Lady Gaga album. Essentially, Gaga & Assange dealt with the fame and artifice of both figures; Assange may be perceived as the more “serious” of the two, but they both espouse messages of transparency whilst hiding behind embassies and prosthetics, claim to be “freaks” (“I was thrown in the trash!” as a child, Gaga cries) and are slaves to their respective brands.

I will admit the show gets a bit tedious towards the end, going a smidgen too long in my opinion, but on the whole it’s a riotous musical that hits Gaga and Assange’s public personas on the head whilst wondering what goes on under the surface.

Tickets are only available for this afternoon’s 2pm matinee at Melbourne University’s Guild Theatre via TryBooking. Full $16, concession $11.

Related: [TheatrePress] A Very Gaga Variety Fundraising Night.

Image via Kin Collaborative.

Event: Stella—A Prize of One’s Own at The Wheeler Centre.

the wheeler centre stella prize

Last Tuesday the first women’s-only literary prize in Australia—the Stella, after the lesser-known first name of Miles Franklin—was awarded to Carrie Tiffany for her novel Mateship with Birds. On Thursday night, the winner; founding donor, Ellen Koshland, and chairs, Aviva Tuffield and Kerryn Goldsworthy, of the Stella Prize; and panel facilitator Sian Prior met at the Wheeler Centre to discuss the landmark event.

I’m sure most have heard of the dismal representation of female writers being reviewed and writing reviews in major publications, and winning prizes, despite the breakdown of actual books being published by women being pretty even with men. The Stella Prize was born of this with the goal to “put gender on the agenda”, and if the 80% of books by women being shortlisted for the Miles Franklin this year and the accompanying press is any indication, the Stella committee has certainly succeeded in opening up the discourse.

Most of the news media I consume is feminist-, or at least left-, skewed, so everything I’ve read about the Stella has been positive. However, on the panel Tiffany quoted this choice headline from a certain newspaper with this country’s name as its title amidst the news of her win: “Bush Romance Novel Wins Writer’s Prize” [online title differs slightly].

Because all women are capable of writing about is romance, right? Specifically, vampire- and sadomasochistic-romance. But as Prior asserted, if that’s the case, “what’s so wrong with vampire- and sadomasochistic-romance, anyway?”  And romance is a “small subject”, just like all the other “small subjects” apparently only women write about: domestic life, relationships, etc. And on the occasion that a man does write about these topics, they’re looked at through a different “scope” than when a woman tells the story.

stella prize shortlist

While I shamefully haven’t read any of the books on the Stella shortlist (although I did pick up Mateship with Birds and Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts, which I’ve wanted to read since I heard her speak at the Bendigo Writers Festival last year), not all of them subscribe to this “gender of genre” talked about above. Sea Hearts is a fantasy novel, while The Sunlit Zone by Lisa Jacobson is speculative fiction. Goldsworthy mentioned that the judges were wary of choosing books that ticked certain boxes; being a genre novel, fact-laden non-ficition, or from an Indigenous woman, for example.

When an audience member asked about Indigenous writers included on the longlist and quotas for them within the Stella prize during question time, Goldsworthy mentioned they didn’t want to “ghettoise” the prize by awarding it to a token Indigenous woman. By using this reasoning for not awarding the Stella to an Indigenous longlistee, doesn’t that just “ghettoise” and “tokenise” the longlist? What’s the point of including them on the longlist at all if they don’t have a chance at the main prize? I noticed a lot of head shaking during Goldsworthy’s answer, including my own, from people presumably on a similar train of thought. Indigenous people are a marginalised group, as are women (despite being more than half of the population and, indeed, about the same number of written word consumers). Born of the need to hear marginalised voices, would the Stella Prize even exist? I hope next year more Indigenous women are selected as contenders, not just for their tokenism.

Related: My Week in Pictures—16th August, 2012.

Elsewhere: [The Australian] Bush Romance Tale a Stella Achievement.

Last Night I Met the Only Man Who Can Be Identified by Googling the Words “Hardcore Legend”, “Hell in a Cell” and “Feminist”: Mick Foley.

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Do yourself a favour: look him up.

Related: Countdown to Lockdown by Mick Foley Review.

Loving… Mick Foley.

Elsewhere: [HuffPo] Greatest Person of the Day—Pro-Wrestler Mick Foley Works to Prevent Sexual Assault.

[Jezebel] Wrestling Star Mick Foley Blows Our Collective Mind.

Event: Midsumma Festival & Women Say Something’s Should We Destroy the Joint?

women say something midsumma should we destroy the joint

Prompted by Alan Jones’ admonition that women in parliament and positions of power are “destroying the joint”, which spurred the online feminist movement of the same name, feminist group Women Say Something brought their panel consisting of such high profile Aussie feminists as Tara Moss, Catherine Deveny and Gretel Killeen to the Thornbury Town Hall on Saturday night to ask whether we should, in fact, destroy the joint.

I must say I didn’t know much about Killeen’s feminist credentials prior to the event, but her total rejection of the Destroy the Joint movement, and most modern movements, was the surprise of the night. Killeen said she didn’t really believe in the premise of feminism and that she identifies more as an egalitarian. Tara Moss interjected here, saying that there’s not just one Feminism and that everyone has their own version of what feminism is. While I do support this notion to a certain extent, I think feminism is first and foremost about equality for all, not just for women. And I also take issue with different feminisms for the fact that this allows people like Tony Abbott and Sarah Palin, who are the furthest things from feminism out there, to claim themselves as part of “the club”.

This idea certainly didn’t go undiscussed, either, as Killeen raised the point that modern feminism is always looking for “aggressive marketing terms” like Destroy the Joint, SlutWalk and reclaiming the word cunt to recruit new members, like Abbott, no matter their ideologies and at the risk of offending the general public. Who cares about the general public? They’re always offending me with their sexist, racist and homophobic ways, so why not ruffle some feathers with feminism?

This lead Killeen to ask when feminism became a label that just anyone could apply to themselves. While I agree with this, and it’s the point I tried to make above, it is contradictory to what (my) feminism is about: equality. Moss then raised the argument of who’s more or less of a feminist, which is an issue I struggle with and which I’ve written about before. Someone then said that feminism allows room for discussion and disagreement, which the panellists certainly demonstrated; feminism isn’t a one size fits all movement.

It seems as though Killeen was playing devil’s advocate at first, with all her snubbing of most of the other panelist’s ideas. But as the night progressed, it became clear that she actually has some pretty radical views of human rights. As Catherine Deveny asserted, it’s not about feminism: it just comes down to being an “asshole and not [being an] asshole”. Here, here.

Some current pop cultural issues came up during question time, such as Beyonce’s recent underwear-clad GQ cover and accompanying article in which she espouses some feminist ideals, without actually saying the word itself. (Let’s remember in 2011 that she neither confirmed nor denied that she was a feminist, instead she suggested we create a new word for the movement.) Moss again reiterated the notion of many feminisms and that “if one of them happens to be in their underwear then that’s great,” which I wholeheartedly support (even if I don’t support feminism being thrust upon an undeserving pop star).

If Abbott’s declaration is anything to go by, seemingly every Tom, Dick and Harry are clamouring to get a piece of the feminist pie, what about all the damning of feminism as a “failed” movement? Deveny insisted that, as many a book, blog post, feminist or historian will tell you, feminism is the most successful human rights movement alongside the black civil rights one. Without feminism, we wouldn’t have the Pill, childcare, pay advances, or the vote, amongst a myriad of other rights.

So, should women destroy the joint? As one panellist said (who it was escapes me now), movements like Destroy the Joint and SlutWalk are “training ground[s] for activism”. Killeen suggested, again, that they’re just angry marketing ploys and that they don’t do anything to further our cause. Facilitator Kate Monroe and fellow panellist Casey Jenkins insisted that primarily social media movements are vital in “chipping away” at the patriarchal zeitgeist, and we need that as much as the “fireworks” of Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech, for example.

On anger, Gillard managed to harness hers at her treatment by pretty much the whole of Australia and turn it into one of Aussie feminism’s most important moments heard ’round the world, regardless of her personal or political beliefs. Many of the panellists (except, again, Killeen) agreed with an audience member’s assertion that anger is an important virtue when it comes to feminism. Far from the archetype of the angry, man-hating, hairy pitted feminist, anger can be fermented into passion which is essential for any feminist and feminist movement, wouldn’t you say?

What do you think? Should we be destroying the joint or do you think there are less radical ways to bring people around to feminism?

Related: Magazine Cover of the Week: Beyonce Named Sexiest Woman of the Century.

Why is Feminism Still a Dirty Word?

Image via Facebook.

Event: My Birthday — Quarter Century Costumes & Cocktails.

Last Friday I turned 25: positively ancient!

To celebrate, I held my annual Halloween-themed costume party at Madame Brussels on Bourke Street, and I was absolutely chuffed by the turnout, generosity of my friends and their dedication to costumes.

I’d been fantasising about my slutty-but-feministy (the two requirements of all my costumes!) turn as Gloria Steinem undercover as a Playboy bunny at the Playboy Club in 1963 since this time last year and, despite the costuming roadblocks I encountered, I was determined not to let anything ruin my night. And with my mum and good friend, Liz, coming down from Bendigo to celebrate my quarter century shenanigans, there was no excuse for the night to turn sour.

So, without further ado, here are some choice happy snaps from the night, mostly courtesy of my personal paparazzo (moonlighting as Merida from Brave), April, but also screenshotted from assorted friends’ Facebooks…

If there was an award for best costume, it would go to Zoe and Matt.

Me and my mum.

The three-layered chocolate, vanilla and red velvet Tiffany box shaped cake…

… and the lady who made it, Christine.

Covering all my feminist bases with a strategically-placed badge to remind everyone of who I’m really dressed as.

Flanked by fellow feminists in their own rights and archers, Merida from Brave and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games.

Sisterly love.

Fittingly, Mel and Johnny went as Mormons. Here we are consulting the book of Mormon about Mitt Romney’s impending fate…

Related: Happy Slut-O-Ween—The Hyper-Sexualisation & -Feminisation of Costumes for Women.

Legally Blonde—The Musical Review.

Event: Legally Blonde — The Musical Review*.

 

Sydney is the host city for the Australian premiere of Legally Blonde: The Musical, and this time last week, a couple of friends and I came together from two other cities (Melbourne and Perth) to check out the latest import from Broadway.

I first became familiar with the musical version of the ditzy blonde from Bel Air with a heart of gold who makes good at Harvard a few years ago when I watched The Search for Elle Woods on MTV. I’m all over the pop-feminism of the Reese Witherspoon version (in fact, my friends and I gathered around my laptop the night before the stage show to watch the original as our hotel didn’t have a DVD player and the only thing I could fault about it eleven years on is the use of “spastic” and “retard”), and I’ve come to love musicals since seeing Wicked which I use as the benchmark for all theatre, so it was a no-brainer to make the jaunt to Sydney to see the Aussie version, starring Lucy Durack as Elle.

Let me start by saying the highlight of the night was the fact that we actually got to meet Durack, Rob Mills, who plays Warner, Cameron Daddo (Professor Callahan) and I Will Survive winner, Mike Snell as the UPS guy, after the show. Maybe because the theatre was only half full they encourage ticket holders to come to the stage door after the performance to meet the cast, but if you’re a fan of any of the above, you should pop along just for that little extra (or hang out in the back streets of the Lyric Theatre!).


I also thought the elaboration of Elle’s outing at a party dressed as a Playboy bunny was a genius addition to the play, but I might be a little biased: when a fellow party-goer tells Elle she looks like a skank in her costume, she comes up with the defence that she is actually dressed as Gloria Steinem when she went undercover at the Playboy club in 1963 and subsequently wrote the feminist manifesto “I Was a Playboy Bunny”, asking, “Would you call Gloria Steinem a skank?!” Token feminist/(ergo) lesbian Enid blurts out, “Who called Gloria Steinem a skank?!” We cheered and whistled from our third row seats and were pretty well the only ones who got the joke which was made a little more special for me personally as three days later I dressed as that exact incarnation of Gloria Steinem as a Playboy bunny for Halloween! (Photos to come.)

Perhaps watching the movie the night before the show wasn’t the best idea, as it made me appreciate the flawlessness of the former and the problematic nature of the latter, which I thought was rife with homophobia, racism and utter “what the?!” moments. Durack, Snell, Mills, Erika Heynatz as Brooke Wyndham and real live puppy dogs on stage were superb, but the clunkyness, out-of-place inclusions to the story and the abovementioned problems overshadowed the better aspects of the show.

Staying with the film, I think it’s a truly feminist piece of art because feminism isn’t really mentioned once, despite Enid’s blatant characterisation as a militant feminist, yet Elle exceeds the expectations placed on her based on her sex and sexiness. In the end you love her because she’s an awesome person, not because she’s hot, blonde, has a vagina and wears pink.

In the musical, however, feminism is almost shoved down the audience’s throat, but from an outsider’s perspective, as if the writers said, “Shit, we need to make this a bit more feministy. Quick, what do we think feminists value?” Whereas in the Witherspoon version, Elle truly does make it at Harvard on her own, on stage Emmett’s character features more heavily and he pretty much guides her through her trials and tribulations which Elle takes credit for solving all on her own. Not to worry, though: to really push the feminist point home, Elle proposed to Emmett because, you know, only feminists do those kind of newfangled pro-equality kinds of things.

If the dismal turn out in the session I bought tickets for is any indication, I don’t think Legally Blonde will continue its run to other Australian cities. Unless you live in Sydney, I wouldn’t recommend making the trip to see it.

 

 

 

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Official image via Time Out Sydney.