On the (Rest of the) Net.

Barbie Sports Illustrated

Barbie is #unapologetic about her Sports Illustrated swimsuit photo shoot. [Barbie Collector]

On behalf of child molestation survivors, Cate Blanchett, don’t accept the Best Actress Oscar. [Thought Catalog]

Modernising the Bechdel Test. [Daily Life]

Fractured friendships on Girls. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

From lady to ladette: media portrayals of female drunkeness. [Sociological Images]

UPDATED: Gaga Ooo La La?

On a recent episode of The View, Lady Gaga was asked about the death of Amy Winehouse, saying that “the world can learn a lesson from the tragedy, in that it should be ‘kinder to the superstar’. Gaga went on to say that that level of fame, which she experiences, is a lonely life.”

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Lady Gaga is awesome; there’s no doubt about that.

She’s fearless in her fashion, her music is guaranteed to get me on the dancefloor, she works tirelessly for gay rights, and recently wowed Sydney (Melbourne next, please!).

But imagine what it’s like to be her for a second.

She’s crafted such an image that it is now impossible for her to make a coffee run, work out, go shopping, or even relax, without portraying her Gaga image. What about Stefani?

While it’d be amazing to meet the people that Gaga does, travel the world like Gaga does, and “use your popularity for a good cause”, as Cher Horowitz puts it in Clueless, like Gaga does, I wouldn’t want to sacrifice who I am underneath it all.

Though, in interviews, Gaga has claimed that her be-sequinned, meat-dress-wearing, friend of Elton John alter ego is who she is underneath it all. That she was “Born this Way”.

But it must be so tiring to always have the Gaga switch on. To be in full makeup, garish costumes, and setting pianos on fire. Evidently it is, if her collapsing on stage is anything to go by.

Personally, if I was a celebrity, I would want to be either a mediocre one who can go about their business getting papped at the supermarket every once in a while, a Cate Blanchette-esque one, who is as good at their craft as Gaga is, but manages to fly under the radar (except for that whole “Carbon Cate” shemozzle), or even one like Kim Kardashian who, like Gaga, probably doesn’t get a whole lot of genuine downtime, where she can spend a day in bed with no makeup on watching cheesy movies without the reality TV cameras and just be the real Kim, but who has crafted a whole career around her personality and her family.

I have to wonder, is there a price to being Lady Gaga? Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, will she still be around like Madonna, Stevie Nicks or Cyndi Lauper? Or will the sheer intensity she operates at now burn her out within five?

I love Lady Gaga, and I genuinely hope she’ll be around for another fifty years, but I certainly don’t envy her.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Vo-Gaga.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Born This Way” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Mag Cover of the Week: Lady Gaga for Vogue Hommes Japan in a Meat Bikini.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Guest Post: Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” & 21st Century “Noise”.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Katy P. VS. Lady G.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Lady Gaga: The World Needs to Be “Kinder to the Superstar”.

Image via Jezebel.

 

Magazine Review: Sunday Life, 24th July 2011.

You’d better duck into your nearest newsagent and hope they have a spare copy of The Sunday Age/Sydney Morning Herald, as its weekly insert, Sunday Life, is a must-read.

In addition to the usual fabulous columns by Mia Freedman and Sarah Wilson, who talk about the hullabaloo surrounding the recent plus-sized (and scantily clad) cover of Vogue Italia (p. 7), and being “deliberately” and uncomfortably vulnerable (p. 10), respectively, Rachel Hills writes on classism in Australia (p. 16–17) and deputy editor Natalie Reilly ponders the magazine’s recent Kate Ellis cover (p. 19).

What with the recent carbon tax being slammed for not being affordable for lower income earners and “Wayne Swan and Tony Abbott… falling over themselves to defend the livelihoods of ‘battlers’ earning more than $150,000 a year—an income more than double the median for Australian families,” class is more of an issue in Australia than ever before, but talking about it “just isn’t cool”.

It’s a very interesting issue, one that has somewhat reared its head in SBS’s Go Back to Where You Came From, the still-to-be aired Housos, a satirical take on life in a housing commission, and the backlash against Cate Blanchett backing the carbon tax.

I have written a little bit here and there about such things, but ultimately, it’s hard to take the “cashed-up bogan” seriously when they say they can’t afford to pay the carbon tax: if they just turned off their $2000 flat-screen TV that they bought with their baby bonus, we might not be in this mess. (Harsh, yes, but it is an anecdotal example!)

Hills quotes Housos, Pizza and Swift & Shift Couriers producer Paul Fenech, who likens the uproar over Housos as “a rich wanker test. The truth is, when we show this comedy to people who live it, they love it.” This could also be applied to the carbon tax and the public reception of shows like Angry Boys: you can always count on the conservative, upper-to-middle class right to become uproarious about such things. Could it be because “talking about class makes us nervous… because it suggests that we might not be as equal as we’d like to think we are—and that’s threatening”? I’d bet it is.

I saw this first hand when I brought up Go Back to Where You Came From with a right-leaning friend. Then I told him I was going to vote Greens next election. Then he called me a communist.

But what’s so wrong with believing everyone should receive the same civil rights? Abbott would argue, “why ‘screw over… people who want to get ahead’?” Indeed; but does it mean that we have to step on the little man to do so?

In “What’s Wrong With This Picture?”, Reilly addresses the age old conundrum of serious women not being able to be taken seriously if they’re dressed in anything remotely “sexy”.

Apparently, there was an outcry from Sunday Life readers regarding the June 26 issue, which featured Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis, dressed in a pink high-necked blouse, red pencil skirt (above the knee, but I wouldn’t call it a mini) and killer turquoise heels. And therein lies the problem:

“When a female politician wears anything other than a sensible suit, outrage ensues.”

Yet, when Prime Minister Julia Gillard wears an unflattering get-up, she’s criticised for not being fashionable enough. Seems a girl just can’t win.

 

 

 

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] On the (Rest of the) Net: 20th May 2011.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Response: Go Back to Where You Came From.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Does Pop Culture Glamourise Our Carbon Footprint?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Conservativism Reigns Supreme in The Sunday Age’s Opinion Section.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] It’s Not Easy Being Green: The Latest Trend in Discrimination.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] $150,000 Doesn’t Make You Rich. Discuss.

[MamaMia] The Four Reactions to This Magazine Cover.

[Sarah Wilson] How Do You Get “Deliberate” About Your Life?

[Girl with a Satchel] “Carbon Cate” for T Magazine & the Prius Effect.

[Sydney Morning Herald] Go Back to Where You Came From Strictly for the Gullible.

[Heathen Scripture] The Other Reason Why Raquel Was Wrong.

Image via Sydney Morning Herald.

In the News/Movies & TV: Does Pop Culture Glamourise Our Carbon Footprint?

Carbon tax. It’s got everyone in a tizzy, and has given Julia Gillard the lowest approval rating of any Prime Minister since Paul Keating. Oh Julia, you had so much potential… but that’s another blog post for another day.

What I want to write about here is the factors that have caused us to need a carbon tax, the front runner being popular culture!

I know, it seems like an odd thing to deduce, but hear me out.

On the nights when I get home from work or being out with friends and my housemate is home before me, oftentimes I’ll walk into the apartment to be greeted by every light in the place blaring, the heater and TV on, and I wonder why my housemate feels the need to make our home look like it belongs in a decor magazine or, at the very least, a television show. But if you’re looking to television and movies to guide your lifestyle, no wonder Australia (not to mention America, the beacon of all things consumerist and anti-environmental) is up shit creek without a paddle.

Look at any major mainstream TV show or movie staged in an affluent location: every single light is on, adding to the unrealistic “ambiance” of the place. Below are just a few screenshot examples:

Charmed.

The Ugly Truth.

Sex & the City.

Scream.

Also, inhabitants of houses/apartments/sheds/any building one can reside in onscreen have a penchant for leaving their blinds open. This is a pet hate of mine and one I’ll never understand. Not only does it practically invite psycho killers into your home (okay, I’ve been watching too much Scream), but in winter, it completely undoes all the good work of your trusty little heater. (I see this not only in movies and TV, but in real life, too. My friend Katrina recounted to me how she once saw her neighbour walking around topless in her bedroom without the blinds drawn!)

And hard-yakka Aussies wonder why they’re being asked to fork out for a carbon tax.

Girl with a Satchel Erica Bartle put it well when she wrote that we’re “not so hard up, are we?” when it came to light that “the average Aussie household now has multiple computers, wireless broadband internet, a Nintendo Wii or similar game console and a plasma TV”. Also, how much are the media contributing to our carbon footprint when they’re firing up the chopper to get aerial views of Cate Blanchett’s eco-mansion whilst condemining her for deigning to support the tax. (I read this on The Drum  or The Punch or one of those sites, but can’t seem to find the link, sorry.)

Can you think of any other TV shows and movies that perpetuate this lights on = glamour at the expense of practicality and our carbon footprint?

Elsewhere: [Girl with a Satchel] “Carbon Cate” for T Magazines & the Prius Effect.

Images via YouTube, IMDb, Film in America.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

(No images this week as I’ve maxed out my broadband limit watching Grey’s Anatomy online!)

Style blog as “unapologetic narcissism”?

“Here is a beautiful slender girl who is constantly posting photos of herself wearing somewhat predicable outfits… Does she really have amazing style or is it just simply the case of a pretty girl wearing denim shorts and a knitted jumper?… How long can this low-on-substance form of blogging survive?’

“I am not your sex-crazy nympho dreamgirl!” at The Good Men Project, via Jezebel:

“… Surely he’d prefer the sexy, fake, plastic dreamgirl shell?

“[This]… image includes a lot of behavioural stuff: the way you squirm, the way you moan, being Super Excited about everything the guy wants to do, and Always Being Up for It—whatever ‘It’ is. When people think about ‘good in bed’, for a woman, that’s often what they think.

“This image also includes being young and thin and cisgendered of course, and that can be problematic.”

“Rihanna Shoots Her Rapist in Her New Video”, “Man Down”.

And here’s Fox News’ take on the video:

“ ‘Man Down’ is an inexcusable, shock-only, shoot-and-kill theme song. In my thirty years of viewing BET [Black Entertainment Television], I have never witnessed such a cold, calculated execution of murder in primetime.

“… She sings that she killed a man when she ‘lost her cool’ because ‘he was playing her for a fool’. This garbage from the same woman who publicly bragged to Rolling Stone recently that she likes to be spanked and tied up… Rihanna gets to have it both ways—accuse Chris Brown of domestic violence and be violent herself—because she’s a woman.”

What does Lady Gaga really have left to say?

The racism and “ugly women” involved in the Arnold Schwarzenegger scandal.

Beyonce: running the world or copying the cat?

The “endangered” and “reclusive” “North American Obeast”.

The World According to Paris [Hilton]: Same Shit, Different Show.”

Special needs kids as prom king and queen. Yay!

How many handbags do you need?

Rebecca Sparrow on Carbon Cate’s fallout:

“So who are these celebs to be loaning their support to such causes? Who are they not to be? Fame’s sidekick is a bloody big, unrelenting spotlight. With the trappings of fame comes a responsibility, I believe, to shine that light on causes you believe in. And while anonymous donations and clandestine charity work are noble—public giving, supporting and encouraging can—literally—save lives. Make a difference. Raise awareness.

“And frankly, I’d rather see [George] Clooney pimping his fame for Darfur than, say, Nespresso.”

“With a Gun Between Her Legs,” Take 3.

 

From “Gosh, Sweetie, That’s a Big Gun”, a dialogue between The New York Times’  chief film critics, A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis, on The New York Times website:

“The question is why are so many violent girls and women running through movies now, especially given that the American big screen hasn’t been very interested in women’s stories, violent or not, in recent decades, an occasional Thelma, Louise and Jodie Foster character notwithstanding. There are other exceptions, of course, usually romantic comedies that are so insipid and insulting I want to kill everyone on screen. Wait a minute—is it female rage fueling this trend?

“It is interesting how frequently the violence of these girls is overseen or inculcated by a father figure who is not always a literal dad: Nicolas Cage in Kick-Ass, training his killer pixie to use sharp blades, big-caliber guns and foul language; Scott Glenn in Sucker Punch, urging his girl warriors into battle; and Eric Bana in Hanna, sending his darling out to fight the wicked witch (Cate Blanchett). Are these paternal figures reassuring or creepy?

“The bad seed isn’t new, but what seems different is that young women and girls can kill today without being necessarily and fatally pathologised.

“It used to be easier to make movies with women. You could put them on a pedestal and either keep them there (as revered wives, virginal girls) or knock them down, as with femmes fatales.

“[David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo]… movie will be better than the Swedish model because he’s the superior director, but I also hope he will more forcefully engage the theme that was blatant in Larsson’s book, as evident in its blunt original title: Men Who Hate Women.

“I think the first [Lisbeth] Salander movie ran into a serious problem when it tried to translate Larsson’s anger about pervasive sexual violence into cinematic terms. It is in the nature of the moving image to give pleasure, and in the nature of film audiences—consciously or not, admittedly or not—to find pleasure in what they see. So in depicting Salander’s rape by her guardian in the graphic way he did, the director… ran the risk of aestheticizing, glamorizing and eroticizing it…

“The risk is not dissolved but rather compounded when the answering, avenging violence is staged and shot in almost exactly the same kind of gruesome detail, since the audience knows it is supposed to enjoy that. In other words, even though the earlier violation can be said to justify the later revenge, that logic turns out to be reversible. You could call this the I Spit on Your Grave paradigm. It is definitely at work in Sucker Punch, which gains in sleaziness by coyly keeping its rape fantasies within PG-13 limits and fairly quivering with ecstasy as it contemplates scenes of female victimization.

“The gun-toting women and girls in this new rash of movies may be performing much the same function for the presumptive male audience: It’s totally ‘gay’ for a guy to watch a chick flick, but if a babe is packing heat—no worries, man!

“Jean-Luc Godard posited that all he needed to make a movie was a girl and a gun… To put the gun in the hands of the girl may be a way to cut out the middleman, as it were, and also, as you suggest, to maximize commercial potential by providing something for everyone…”

Related: Sucker Punch Review.

“With a Gun Between Her Legs,” Take 2.

“With a Gun Between Her Legs”: Why “Strong” (AKA “Sexy” Whilst Being “Strong”) Female Characters Are Bad for Women.

Elsewhere: [NY Times] Gosh, Sweetie, That’s a Big Gun: Women as Violent Characters in Movies.

Images via The Independent, The New York Times.