TV: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Makeover” Episode.

With the U.S. presidential election taking place one day before Glee’s “Makeover” episode—in which McKinley High’s class presidential election occurred—aired in Australia, Glee showed that it is capable of some self-awareness and social commentary every now and then.

Shades of Brittany’s bid for last year’s class presidency can be seen, but where that episode dealt more with the feminism of both the 2008 and McKinley’s elections, last night was about the celebrity culture that surrounds voting.

Blaine tries to make this clear when he admonishes Brittany for using her popularity to influence the glee club members to vote for her. “This isn’t a popularity contest; it’s about who’s got the best ideas.” That may be so, but the creators saw fit to milk this angle for all it’s worth with a “Celebrity Skin” by Hole montage.

While Brittany chooses to run with “part-robot” Artie, whom she forgot she dated several seasons ago and broke up with because he called her stupid, as her vice presidential candidate, a category which Sue Sylvester points out has been introduced “for no discernible reason whatsoever”, she suggests Blaine pick Sam as running mate. Sam assures Blaine he’ll bring in the “sympathy” and “not-gay vote[s]” because his family is on food stamps and he’s not gay: kind of like John McCain picked his “granddaughter” (according to Brittany) Sarah Palin as vice presidential candidate in 2008 to seemingly ensure the “female” vote to no avail.

Brittany’s influence on her opposition seemed to work to her disadvantage, as at the end of the episode we see Blaine and Sam (“Blam” as they are collectively called on the congratulations banner) celebrating their victory. Blaine is experiencing some self-doubt and displacement at McKinley when Kurt is more focused on his new intern-career at Vogue.com with guest star Sarah Jessica Parker (who herself is heavily involved in politics and the campaign to get Obama reelected, serendipitously enough) than him, but Sam says being the school’s “first gay-guy president” whose place of birth is brought into question by Brittany is something to be proud of, just like Obama was America’s first black president whose birthplace was also called into question by a fellow “celebrity” perhaps bitter about Obama’s influence in Hollywood: Donald Trump.

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Asian F” Episode.

Image via AllMyVideos.

TV: Top 11 TV Moments of 2011.

Paper Giants.

One of the best shows this year. Unfortunately, it only ran over two nights.

The Kennedys.

Wow. Just wow. I loved this miniseries that was cancelled by the History Channel in the U.S. because it allegedly portrayed the Kennedy family in too negative a light. Luckily, it was picked up by the ABC here. I am now officially in love with Greg Kinnear.

Go Back to Where You Came From.

Apart from Sarah Ferguson’s Four Corners expose on the meat industry (below), SBS’s Go Back to Where You Came From was the most groundbreaking television this year. Unfortunately, I don’t think it changed anyone’s minds about the plight of refugees in this country, because those who already empathise with asylum seekers were the show’s target audience, and those who think refugees should go back to where they came from snubbed the show.

Sookie & Eric Finally Get Together on True Blood.

While I’m more of a Sookie and Bill fan, and an Alcide-in-general fan, Eric’s turn as sensitive Sookie-lover in True Blood’s fourth season was a must-watch. But thankfully, the Nordic vampire is back to his old, heartless self.

Charlotte King’s Rape in Private Practice.

Private Practice is an oft-shunned show, in favour of its Seattle counterpart, Grey’s Anatomy, but season four dealt with abortion and rape particularly sensitively and realistically.

Four Corners’ Expose on the Meat Market.

This was probably one of the most talked about news stories in Australia, if one of the most poorly rated episodes of Four Corners. Not because people didn’t care, but because it was so hard to watch. It’s perhaps too soon to tell, but I think we are seeing a chance in meat practices in Australia because of this story.

The Slap.

I found one of ABC’s most anticipated shows of the year to be a spectacular letdown. I’d had Christos Tsiolkas’ novel on my reading list since it was released, however I missed out on reading it before the show premiered in October. Perhaps if I had read the book first I would feel differently about the show, but I found it to be stereotypical and tokenistic, and a massive disappointment from the screen version I had hyped up in my mind. Fail.

MamaMia Gets Its Own TV Show.

Probably not many TV watchers outside of the insular community of MamaMia and Sky News would have known about Mia Freedman’s lifestyle website making the switch to TV. I don’t have pay TV but, luckily, the shows are available to watch on the MamaMia website, YouTube and Facebook, where the panelists talk about all manner of things, like sex, mental illness, celebrity, porn, religion, parenthood and more.

Angry Boys.

I hadn’t watched any of Chris Lilley’s stuff before Angry Boys and, while a lot who had thought the show was a bit of a letdown, I really enjoyed it.

Housos.

Another one that was a bit hit-and-miss, I’d anticipated the show all year. While some moments were gold, others were just supremely unfunny.

At Home With Julia.

Finally, the cherry on top of a parody-tastic television year. I really enjoyed Amanda Bishop’s portrayal of Julia Gillard, but I still found the fact that there was a show about a sitting prime minister pretty offensive.

Any TV moments I missed here that you thought defined 2011?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

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

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Private Practice: Pro-Choice?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Slap & Men Who Cheat.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] At Home with Julia: Funny or Disrespectful?

12 Posts of Christmas: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants.

In the spirit Christmas, I’ve decided to revisit some of my favourite posts of the year in the twelve days leading up to December 25th. 

This one was written after Paper Giants aired on ABC in April, comparing the heyday of magazines with the impact of the digital world. You can read the original post here.

A few weeks ago, in response to ABC’s Paper Giants: The Birth of CleoMia Freedman wrote on MamaMia about her thoughts on the state of the (mag) nation and if magazines are still relevant and the amount of influence they wield in 2011:

“… Not that much excitement goes on in magazines anymore… [It’s a struggle to] get them [those who work on a magazine] to try and think about something that hasn’t been done before, something that will start a conversation and boost sales.”

Freedman compares pay TV’s Park Street, a The Devil Wears Prada-esque reality show about ACP’s head offices, featuring the editors of DollyCleoCosmoMadison and Shop Til You Drop, which received dismal ratings and poor audience response, to the critical success and brilliant take on Cleo in her influential heyday of Paper Giants. She says, “Gemma Crisp [editor of Cleo] explained the editorial process that a story undergoes from conception to publication. It takes a minimum of three months… When was the last time you waited three months for something? Life doesn’t happen in increments of months anymore. It happens in moments, in text messages, in Tweets. It’s fast and it’s relentless and if it takes you three months (or even three weeks) to get from thought to print then that’s just too long to retain the attention of your audience.”

When she puts it like that, Freedman makes me long for a simpler time, when I hung on the every word magazines published, as opposed to reading hundreds of articles a week, mostly on blogs, but also in magazines, in an attempt to stay on top of my blogging game.

Erica Bartle, creator of Girl with a Satchel and a former mag girl herself, says Freedman’s “blog-cum-website” “deals in what everyone’s talking about TODAY. It feeds off the 24-hour news cycle. And Mia’s own profile. And her opinion… It’s like a current affairs program for women online.” And now with MamaMia launching on SkyNews, Freedman’s brand is literally a current affairs program.

Not all blogs can operate this way. MamaMia has a team of bloggers, editors and techs who keep the site running smoothly which thus, as Bartle said, allows it to operate on a 24-hour news cycle.

Personally, I have a part-time paid job I go to four times a week, this means I only get to blog two or three days a week, and with so much info to process and a maximum of 15 posts per week to churn out in a small amount of time, this means The Early Bird Catches the Worm is not always the early bird.

But even for those who blog fulltime, like Bartle, it’s not always about what’s happening right NOW as it is about maintaining the blog’s integrity.“I personally operate on a different plane, because my beliefs very much inform my work. For that, I’m willing to sacrifice certain economic constraints,” she says.

Still in the blogging world, you have someone like Gala Darling, who is very much a self-made businesswoman as a result of her über-successful blog of the same name. She’s gone from strength to strength over the past few years; something she could never have done had she been a magazine editor (bar the select few, like Anna Wintour, Anna Dello Russo and yes, Freedman).

But, essentially, MamaMia has the advantage of possessing “a figurehead with credibility whose background is in traditional media. She has the gut instinct of an editor. Online you need news nous as well as technological nous and business nous.”

Another editor who has these qualities in spades is former Cleo and Girlfriend editor, Sarah Oakes, whom Bartle worked under at Girlfriend. Bartle says she invoked an atmosphere of ghosts of magazines past, creating “camaraderie, creativity and positivity, which I think she achieved. She gave you more work if she thought you could be stretched; gave you a talking to if you had crossed a line; gave you a pat on the back for a job well done.” Very Ita-like, wouldn’t you say?

Oakes is now editor of The Age Sydney Morning Herald’s Sunday Life supplement, a title which has improved markedly since she took over. (I have also blogged here about how I think both Girlfriend and Cleo became better titles under her leadership.)

In fact, newspaper inserts are giving the glossies on the newsstand a run for their money, as they “are getting exclusives and have strong writing and design teams, as well as columnists and styling/shoots. These free weekly titles, because of the mastheads they reside within, have enviable readerships and access to celebrities. They are also respectable, well executed and FREE,” Bartle notes.

But at the end of the day, are magazines relevant?

Freedman writes:

“The internet has not only sucked up their readers, it has also gobbled up their purpose: to be a way women form tribes and communicate. Now there’s YouPorn and any other number of sites for titillation, Google for questions about sex, and any number of websites or free newspaper magazines if you’re looking for other types of content or a magazine-style experience. Women don’t want to be spoken TO anymore. They want to be part of the conversation, something which the internet allows, in fact depends on… the internet has taken the sting out of the raunch-factor for mags like Cosmo and Cleo.”

Yes, as Freedman says, there are much raunchier locales to get what would have been included in a sealed section only a few years ago. There’s also Perez Hilton, TMZ and even shows like Entertainment Tonight and E! News that monopolise celebrity content, while the fashion blogs are more of a go-to for what kids are wearing these days.

Sure, Vogue’s always going to be a premiere source for high fashion shoots from photographers the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Patrick Demarchelier and David LaChapelle, but magazines “seem to exist on a strangely distant planet where all the people look like plastic and the sole pursuit is ‘perfection’. Except that perfection doesn’t really exist,” says Freedman.

When sites like JezebelCover Girl Culture and, yes, MamaMia and Girl with a Satchel are debunking photoshop myths and striving for more realistic representations of women in the media, magazines are doing this movement any favours. (Except maybe Brigitte.)

And when you can get most of a magazine’s content online anyway (I passed on a near-$20 copy of US Harper’s Bazaar in favour of accessing interviews with Kim Kardashian and Hillary Clinton on their website), are they really worth it?

Bartle doesn’t think so. “No, but they need to be distinctive from what we can get online or elsewhere if we are going to part with $5-$10 to purchase one. Premium magazines, which I have no qualms spending extra on, include The Gentlewoman and O The Oprah Magazine, because they cater to my tastes, sensibility and need for a good read on a Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea.”

I agree with Bartle’s sentiments.

While online is great for content from individuals not curated and/or watered down by magazines editors to fit the mold of their magazine, holding a truly great glossy in your hands, like the appeal of a physical book, while at the hairdressers, a café or tucked up in bed, means magazines will always hold a place in our hearts.

Right next to the Kindle and Google Reader.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Everything They Touch Turns To Gold.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Evolution of the Bookshop at The Wheeler Centre.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Paper Giants VS. Park Street: Why Magazines Are Not What They Used to Be.

[MamaMia] MamaMia Gets a TV Show.

[Girl with a Satchel] Homepage.

[Girl with a Satchel] Mid-Week Media Musings.

[Gala Darling] Homepage.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Mark Zuckerberg gets engaged, racism ensues.

Celebrities: what gives us the right to judge them?

“The disappearing bush is a burning issue”: “Just like the rain forest and the ozone layer, pubic hair has been disappearing on young, fertile, desired and desiring bodies…” Must read.

Flavorwire’s top ten teaching flicks. Long live Mr. Holland’s Opus!

The beauty of “the lesser-watched-sitcom”.

The benefits of being an introvert:

“… Extroverts are more likely than introverts to be hospitalized as a result of an injury, have affairs (men) and change relationships (women). One study of bus drivers even found that accidents are more likely to occur when extroverts are at the wheel… [Introverts are] more likely to wear ponytails and glasses and be the subject of a bet featuring Freddie Prinze Junior as the Popular Guy trying to ask her to prom…”

The infiltration of “like” into every (mostly female) conversation. Like, you know, whatever!

Disney and fat-phobia.

Is rape biologically imperative for men?

Why won’t Bristol Palin acknowledge her sexual assault?:

“[Feminist author and blogger Jessica Valenti ponders the] … impact Bristol’s story will have on the thousands of young women who read her memoir: ‘Not calling it assault—and blaming herself, as she does in the book—sends a dangerous message to young women who may have similar experiences.’ She writes that Bristol’s sense that she had ‘sinned’ and ‘had’ to marry [Levi] Johnston ‘broke [her] heart a bit’. Mine too.

“But I actually wonder if Bristol’s story, with all its heartache and ambiguity, might actually serve as a bit of entry level feminism for her readers. What transpired between Bristol and Levi, after all, was not remotely uncommon, and nor was Bristol’s reaction…”

Rachel Hills on Mad Men.

Lumping penis-Tweeter Anthony Weiner, adulterer and sexual harasser Arnold Schwarzenegger, and alleged rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn in together: are they just afraid of “being invisible to women”?

Speaking of, ladies, make sure you don’t marry a man other women find attractive. The good-looking ones always stray, if Weiner is anything to go by.

My two criticisms of this theory are 1) um, when did the popular consensus lean toward “Weiner is hot”? and 2) Paul Newman. One of the best-looking men who ever lived, and faithful to his wife til the end.

Furthermore, what about that study that said relationships where the man is better looking than the woman last longer because the women puts in more effort to keep him?

Maybe Voltron was right in telling us not to believe the studies…

The myth of the female praying mantis.

“Can we honestly expect corporations to be bastions of morality and ethical behaviour?”

Victoria’s Secret’s target demographic: real women who want to know how their lingerie will make them feel, or 15-year-old boys?

Julia Gillard and Tim Mathieson’s 60 Minutes interview was a few weeks ago now, but Annabel Crabb’s commentary on the topic of our lack of respect for the Prime Minister is timeless:

“Surely she has earned the right not to endure infantilising questions about whether she really loves her boyfriend. And as for the awful matter of the First Nuptials (a grim sequence concluded the interview, with much chummy speculation from Wooley on who would be the ‘popper’ and ‘poppee’ of the marriage question, and more nervous giggling from the PM)—well, it’s fairly rude to ask, even without a national audience watching.

“Why do people feel they can take such liberties with this prime minister?”

25 things you need to know about Green Lantern before you see it. (Warning: ruthless spoilers ahead).

Strange True Blood bedfellows.

“Scientists VS. Shock Jocks: Who Do You Believe” on the subject of climate change?

Leggings running pants as pants.

Naww, this makes me want a dog even more. Even a blind, mangy, abused one. It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. And it’s better for an animal to feel love before loss.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Porn star Stoya Tweets, “If you think pubic hair on a woman is unnatural or weird, you aren’t mature enough to be touching vaginas.” You go, girl!

Beware hot baths in winter: they can cause heart attacks!

Celebrities and mental illness.

I was absolutely disgusted by Bob Ellis’ take on the ADFA sex scandal on ABC’s The Drum Unleashed, comparing the unconsented filming of a young female cadet during sex to the girls discussing last night’s date on Sex & the City. Here are some choice excerpts:

“Let us imagine the girl agreed to be filmed, and then, afterwards, being mocked for it, and flabbergasted by the number of leering hoons who saw the film, made the complaint. Would that then occasion the sacking of her commanding officer, the court-martial of fifteen or twenty of her fellow recruits, and the bastardising of her lover?

“… She would have been mortified. She would have cursed for months the prurient observers of her bed games. She would have railed at them in the canteen. She would have sobbed on the phone to her mother. She would have attracted some sympathy. She would almost certainly have got over it… And she might… have married the boy.”

“… They, and we, should be careful when we attend too closely to what occurs in a bedroom consensually, and how we punish either participant.

“… Is the young woman, moreover, to be named, and acclaimed, and promoted, and hereafter entrusted with frontline command on some field of battle? Who would trust her in any high army position? Who would be sure she was truthful? Or sound of judgment? Or loyal? Or reliable under fire?”

To end, he makes sure we know that group sex didn’t occur, “as it sometimes does in traveling footballers’ motel rooms”, as if that somehow makes it okay.

Kim Powell writes in response at News with Nipples about Ellis’ assertion that (male) society owns female bodies, as he began the above piece by reminiscing about an old M.A.S.H. episode in which the shower Hot Lips Houlihan is using is lifted by a crane and the menfolk gaze at her naked body.

Girl with a Satchel posts a smashing review of Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

Vintage Gala Darling, circa 2005. Glad to see she hasn’t changed :).

“7 Reasons to Get Excited About the Royal Wedding”… one week later!

In relation, is Princess Catherine doomed to repeat the same fate as Diana? A royal comparison.

Also, “Jessica Rudd shines some perspective on the wedding and the Republic.”

Much to my chagrin, tanning beds are safe… for some things!

Sarah Wilson on private schooling:

“I know parents want to provide the best for their own kids… I don’t know that fancy pools and excursions to Tuscany make for a better education.”

“Things Fat People Are Told”:

“If a fat person defied any of these pronouncements in any way, they spoke of having their lives and experiences denied. They couldn’t really have low blood pressure. They couldn’t really be getting married.

“The hostility fat people experience is extreme. One woman spoke about being on an operating table for a C-section and having a surgeon mock her fat, suggesting they get rid of it while they’ve got her open. Another spoke of sitting in an ambulance while a police officer refused to believe she was raped. Others were told they should be happy to have been sexually assaulted. We heard about how transgender persons were belittled for being too fat to pass. We heard about fat people who were sick and were denied treatment until they lost weight. Fat mothers were told they were selfish for being fat because they would orphan their children. Or that their children would never love them. Or that they’d just ruin their children’s lives so maybe the baby should just die in the womb.”

Lisa Simpson would “totally be a Jezebel reader if she were human.”

Images via Jezebel.

Magazines: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants?

 

A few weeks ago, in response to ABC’s Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, Mia Freedman wrote on MamaMia about her thoughts on the state of the (mag) nation and if magazines are still relevant and the amount of influence they wield in 2011:

“… Not that much excitement goes on in magazines anymore… [It’s a struggle to] get them [those who work on a magazine] to try and think about something that hasn’t been done before, something that will start a conversation and boost sales.”

Freedman compares pay TV’s Park Street, a The Devil Wears Prada-esque reality show about ACP’s head offices, featuring the editors of Dolly, Cleo, Cosmo, Madison and Shop Til You Drop, which received dismal ratings and poor audience response, to the critical success and brilliant take on Cleo in her influential heyday of Paper Giants. She says, “Gemma Crisp [editor of Cleo] explained the editorial process that a story undergoes from conception to publication. It takes a minimum of three months… When was the last time you waited three months for something? Life doesn’t happen in increments of months anymore. It happens in moments, in text messages, in Tweets. It’s fast and it’s relentless and if it takes you three months (or even three weeks) to get from thought to print then that’s just too long to retain the attention of your audience.”

When she puts it like that, Freedman makes me long for a simpler time, when I hung on the every word magazines published, as opposed to reading hundreds of articles a week, mostly on blogs, but also in magazines, in an attempt to stay on top of my blogging game.

Erica Bartle, creator of Girl with a Satchel and a former mag girl herself, says Freedman’s “blog-cum-website” “deals in what everyone’s talking about TODAY. It feeds off the 24-hour news cycle. And Mia’s own profile. And her opinion… It’s like a current affairs program for women online.” And now with MamaMia launching on SkyNews, Freedman’s brand is literally a current affairs program.

Not all blogs can operate this way. MamaMia has a team of bloggers, editors and techs who keep the site running smoothly which thus, as Bartle said, allows it to operate on a 24-hour news cycle.

Personally, I have a part-time paid job I go to four times a week, this means I only get to blog two or three days a week, and with so much info to process and a maximum of 15 posts per week to churn out in a small amount of time, this means The Early Bird Catches the Worm is not always the early bird.

But even for those who blog fulltime, like Bartle, it’s not always about what’s happening right NOW as it is about maintaining the blog’s integrity.“I personally operate on a different plane, because my beliefs very much inform my work. For that, I’m willing to sacrifice certain economic constraints,” she says.

Still in the blogging world, you have someone like Gala Darling, who is very much a self-made businesswoman as a result of her über-successful blog of the same name. She’s gone from strength to strength over the past few years; something she could never have done had she been a magazine editor (bar the select few, like Anna Wintour, Anna Dello Russo and yes, Freedman).

But, essentially, MamaMia has the advantage of possessing “a figurehead with credibility whose background is in traditional media. She has the gut instinct of an editor. Online you need news nous as well as technological nous and business nous.”

Another editor who has these qualities in spades is former Cleo and Girlfriend editor, Sarah Oakes, whom Bartle worked under at Girlfriend. Bartle says she invoked an atmosphere of ghosts of magazines past, creating “camaraderie, creativity and positivity, which I think she achieved. She gave you more work if she thought you could be stretched; gave you a talking to if you had crossed a line; gave you a pat on the back for a job well done.” Very Ita-like, wouldn’t you say?

Oakes is now editor of The Age & Sydney Morning Herald’s Sunday Life supplement, a title which has improved markedly since she took over. (I have also blogged here about how I think both Girlfriend and Cleo became better titles under her leadership.)

In fact, newspaper inserts are giving the glossies on the newsstand a run for their money, as they “are getting exclusives and have strong writing and design teams, as well as columnists and styling/shoots. These free weekly titles, because of the mastheads they reside within, have enviable readerships and access to celebrities. They are also respectable, well executed and FREE,” Bartle notes.

But at the end of the day, are magazines relevant?

Freedman writes:

“The internet has not only sucked up their readers, it has also gobbled up their purpose: to be a way women form tribes and communicate. Now there’s YouPorn and any other number of sites for titillation, Google for questions about sex, and any number of websites or free newspaper magazines if you’re looking for other types of content or a magazine-style experience. Women don’t want to be spoken TO anymore. They want to be part of the conversation, something which the internet allows, in fact depends on… the internet has taken the sting out of the raunch-factor for mags like Cosmo and Cleo.”

Yes, as Freedman says, there are much raunchier locales to get what would have been included in a sealed section only a few years ago. There’s also Perez Hilton, TMZ and even shows like Entertainment Tonight and E! News that monopolise celebrity content, while the fashion blogs are more of a go-to for what kids are wearing these days.

Sure, Vogue’s always going to be a premiere source for high fashion shoots from photographers the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Patrick Demarchelier and David LaChapelle, but magazines “seem to exist on a strangely distant planet where all the people look like plastic and the sole pursuit is ‘perfection’. Except that perfection doesn’t really exist,” says Freedman.

When sites like Jezebel, Cover Girl Culture and, yes, MamaMia and Girl with a Satchel are debunking photoshop myths and striving for more realistic representations of women in the media, magazines are doing this movement any favours. (Except maybe Brigitte.)

And when you can get most of a magazine’s content online anyway (I passed on a near-$20 copy of US Harper’s Bazaar in favour of accessing interviews with Kim Kardashian and Hillary Clinton on their website), are they really worth it?

Bartle doesn’t think so. “No, but they need to be distinctive from what we can get online or elsewhere if we are going to part with $5-$10 to purchase one. Premium magazines, which I have no qualms spending extra on, include The Gentlewoman and O The Oprah Magazine, because they cater to my tastes, sensibility and need for a good read on a Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea.”

I agree with Bartle’s sentiments.

While online is great for content from individuals not curated and/or watered down by magazines editors to fit the mold of their magazine, holding a truly great glossy in your hands, like the appeal of a physical book, while at the hairdressers, a café or tucked up in bed, means magazines will always hold a place in our hearts.

Right next to the Kindle and Google Reader.

Related: Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

Everything They Touch Turns To Gold.

The Evolution of the Bookshop at The Wheeler Centre.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Paper Giants VS. Park Street: Why Magazines Are Not What They Used to Be.

[MamaMia] MamaMia Gets a TV Show.

[Girl with a Satchel] Homepage.

[Girl with a Satchel] Mid-Week Media Musings.

[Gala Darling] Homepage.

Images via ABC, MamaMia, Teacup.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Rebecca Black is subversifying the pop world.

“Yet here the discerning viewer notes that something is wrong. Because it is a simply matter of fact that in this car all the good seats have already been taken. For Rebecca Black (her name here would seem to evoke Rosa Parks, a mirroring that will only gain in significance) there is no actual choice, only the illusion of choice.

“The viewer knows that she’ll take the only seat that’s offered to her…”

The Awl even goes so far as to say Black’s relationship with the rapper in her “Friday” clip might be Lolita-esque, and that the video is a commentary on “a crypto sex scene from which we return to the suburban house party”. Creepy.

What it feels like for a (tween star) girl.

I hate answering the phone. When I lived at home, I would never answer the landline when it rang. Now that I fend for myself and can only afford one phone, I only answer numbers I recognise. So does Pamela Paul, via MamaMia.

Extremely racist anti-abortion billboards aimed at African Americans.

Lucy Ormonde asks if it’s acceptable for women to make the first move. My answer: hell yes! Otherwise I would never get any action!

“Words That Are Transphobic & Why.”

The Sartorialist’s “sturdy” shitstorm.

It’s okay to be “fat”, just as long as it’s in the right places, ie. bum, hips and boobs, allowing for a small waist, à la Kim Kardashian and Christina Hendricks.

After reading this review, I can’t wait to see Sucker Punch: a “Burlesque meets Inception” amalgamation of “bustiers, fishnets and glitter instead of asylum uniforms” where Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish et al’s characters reside in the film. These are just some “of the many clues that we are not actually inside the mind of a young girl, but inside Zach Snyder’s spank bank!”

Perhaps it could have been titled something else, but “How to Be Skinny” has some good points.

Kate Walsh is not a loser!:

“She’s certainly not a loser, based on her many accomplishments. Having a baby doesn’t instantly turn you into a winner. If you feel like a loser for not having a baby, that is your personal truth, but it is not The Truth. And! The fact that so many media outlets picked up this one sentence segment—from a long cover story with quotes about divorce, high heels and Lady Gaga—shows that we, the public are the real losers, for placing so much importance on how a woman uses her uterus.”

“5 Seconds of Every #1 Song From 1993–2011.”

“What Celebrity Culture Means:” Asking completely unqualified famous teenage boys their opinions on abortion and rape:

“‘Thanks for joining us tonight Mr. Bieber. What are your views on climate change? How do you feel about Iraq? And what do you think of the criticism levied against the parents of the Columbine shooters?’”

Going Gaga for breast milk.

On catastrophes and guilt.

Is gay marriage really the hallmark of society’s downfall? Not according to this fab pie chart.

Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, John Galliano et al: our obsession with celebs behaving badly.

Sarah Ayoub-Christie likens the freelance market to war, via Lois Lane, on The New Adventures of Superman. I’m inclined to agree!

“Jackie O & the Twisted Politics of Being a Bad Mother” at MamaMia.

Jezebel has also picked up the story.

Where’s the (nerd) love?

Today’s celebrity perfumers could take a lesson from the late Liz Taylor in personal branding.

90% of Facebook users take note: “Ten Words You Need to Stop Misspelling.”

The fashion life cycle of the meat dress.

Images via Democratic Underground, Graph Jam, Feministing, The Awl.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Megan Fox’s body politics:

“… You have a picture of said body—made even thinner through creative posing—that’s used to sell underwear. In other words, she is paid to be thin. Period. All the talk about her abs and her weight-training regimen don’t have anything to do with the reality: Her body is her business. Literally. It’s her business, not ours, whether she’s healthy—that’s between Ms. Fox and her doctor. And it’s her business—an integral part of her financial strategy—to be thin.”

This is a superb, graphic and thought-provoking piece of writing on waxing, vaginoplasty and the ubiquity of female lady-parts. Semi-NSFW, but I recommend reading it at any cost:

“… while we can look over with horror at a tribe of women who claim that if their five-year-old happened to bleed excessively after having her clitoris cut off, that she must have been a witch, here in our own backyard, we give it some fancy name like vaginoplasty and somehow it’s less archaic? Goodness, we’re so civilized.”

Bern Morley on song lyrics and what we let our children listen to. Good stuff.

The double standards of cheating. FYI, I don’t agree with them.

Sachar Mathias divulges her favourite black dolls. Does this make-shift Michael Jackson Ken count? It is circa late ’90s/early ’00s—his face mask, baby-dangling period—so maybe not…

Anti-Semitism in the fashion house of Christian Dior goes further back than just John Galliano’s comments.

James Franco was a jerk to Kristina Wong. I think he’s a jerk in general.

CNN recently published an article asking if “whites are racially oppressed?” That’s like saying there needs to be an international men’s day if there’s a women’s one. Seriously, someone tried to argue that to me last week!

Charlie Sheen and “The Disposable Woman”.

Thanks for the shoutout, Beauty Redefined.

Celebrities behaving badly: who’s responsible?:

“But is it the responsibility of the media to be the moral gatekeepers of what we should and shouldn’t know about? Is it their responsibility to diagnose supposed ‘mental illness’ and on that basis, stop reporting on certain stories?

“… If drug addled celebrities on the front pages didn’t sell, they wouldn’t be there. So is the problem us? Just who is egging on who[m] here?”

Alissa Warren is a bit unsure if Waity Kaity is the royal for her.

Rick Morton on Pauline Hanson’s political return.

Images via Jezebel, Carlen Altman.

Chase You Down Until You Love Me, Paparazzi…

The following is based on a 2006 uni essay I wrote about the camera as an intruder, so sorry for any overly academic phrasing. I have attempted to bring it into the modern day with less formal language after reading an article on Jezebel, “The Day I Trailed a Paparazzi” in which—what else?—one of the blog’s writers trailed a paparazzo for a day.

Is the camera an intruder? Some would say that, in this day and age, with advanced photographic technology and increased access by photojournalists to worldwide events, it is. However, others assert that because of this advanced photographic technology and increased access, paired with the public’s growing need, and right, to know and see, that the camera it is not.

In terms of the cult of celebrity and the growing phenomenon of the paparazzi, privacy is a major issue. Peter Howe, in his book Paparazzi, provides this definition of the occupation:

“It refers to those photographers who seek out and follow celebrities… in order to photograph them in their most unguarded moments. In short, it’s taking photographs you shouldn’t take in places you shouldn’t be”.

However, some might argue that in becoming a movie star or rock star, and thereby a celebrity, you give up your right to privacy. Privacy laws in the US, specifically in Los Angeles where most paparazzi dwell, state that “if the subject of the photograph can reasonably expect privacy in a specific situation, such as inside his home, photographs of such situations cannot be published without permission”. And, as is evident in any glossy tabloid, most paparazzi shots are taken in public places, such as shopping strips and restaurants. “The consensus of opinion among the paparazzi is that the celebrities get the privacy they deserve, and that if you really don’t want to be photographed, then you don’t go to eat at Mr. Chows or the Ivy, where there are always photographers,” says Howe.

French theorist Roland Barthes states that “people change when they’re aware they’re being photographed.” So “when long lenses can ‘trespass’”, “the traditional definitions of privacy may not apply”.

The paparazzi are viewed as the most morally and ethically irresponsible photographer in the business but, “if everyone hates their work, why are they the best-paid and busiest photojournalists in the world?” asks Howe.

Our obsession with celebrity has only grown since I originally wrote this article back in 2006, a time which was already seeing the tabloid market explode, causing “the number of paparazzi to quadruple”, explains co-owner of L.A. paparazzi firm Bauer and Griffin, Randy Bauer, in an article from Cosmopolitan that same year.

Increasingly, blogs have become the stratosphere through which paparazzi pics circulate, however magazines still pay the big bucks. The first pictures of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and their adopted son Maddox on a beach in Africa sold for $100,000; a far cry from the $6.68 million People magazine paid for the exclusive photographs of Pitt, Jolie and their first biological child, Shiloh.

In the five years since Pitt & Jolie got together and were hunted by the paparazzi (Wagner, a paparazzo who participated in a story on Jezebel, asserts that family pics of the couple are still the highest fetching shots), reality TV has reached its pinnacle, with celebs like Kim Kardashian milking their celebrity for all its worth; sad sacks like Lindsay Lohan and Heidi Montag tipping off the paparazzi in order to sell shots of themselves and keep their names in the media; and those in a league of their own, like Lady Gaga, whose song “Paparazzi” and albums “The Fame” and “The Fame Monster” take the piss out of the very machine that made them and creating a new definition of the über-celebrity/icon.

As above, though, the paparazzi are predominantly viewed in a negative light, not only by serious art photographers and the general public but, obviously, the stars they photograph. Kristen Stewart, for example, is one star who has been vocal in her dislike for the paparazzi; those in opposition to her stance might use the argument above, that to have success in the acting world is to accept the constant presence of photographers. Especially when you’re one half of the most talked about couple since the Jolie-Pitts. Elsewhere, the Jezebel article, written by Dodai Stewart, has a focus on Michael Douglas, who is receiving treatment for throat cancer, and the unremitting swarm of photographers outside his house every day. Is hounding a sick man taking our obsession with celebrity too far? American author and journalist Nathaniel Parker Willis says that, “the idea [is] that to really know someone, we must know their private life”.

From the Cosmo article: “[the paparazzi] can make celebrities feel anxious, depressed, and even mildly agoraphobic” That explains the notorious picture of Cameron Diaz, with then-boyfriend Justin Timberlake, attacking a paparazzo, then!

But, increasingly celebs are embracing the paparazzi, realising that if they work in cooperation with them, their public lives will be less tumultuous.

Stewart relays her story about Wagner trailing Liev Schreiber and his son with Naomi Watts, into the subway. After talking to the subject for several minutes, Wagner tells Schreiber that he’s “gotta get a picture of you”, and “Liev said sure, put the kid on his shoulders and let Wagner snap away… No other photographers were around, so it’s an exclusive shot.” Wagner gets paid, Schreiber comes across as a cool family man; it’s a win-win situation.

Celebs with kids can get a bit weird about them being photographed, understandably, and in the same article, when Wagner encounters Watts with the kids, she kindly asks him not to take pictures, and he obliged. See, Hollywood dwellers? There’s no need to get violent with the paps. (Granted, the pics of Schreiber and Watts were taken in New York City, where the paparazzi scene is less brutal than in Los Angeles, and there seems to be a certain air of respect between subject and object.)

Other NYC dwellers such the cunning Sarah Jessica Parker, have some up with ways of making themselves less desirable targets:

“‘[SJP] wears the same thing everyday,’” he [Wagner] says. ‘On purpose. Because you talk about this today, then she wears it tomorrow, then what do you have to say? Nothing.’”

There is almost an element of protection there, too: provided both parties behave themselves and there exists a certain professional relationship, when your every move is recorded on camera, it’s got to be mighty hard to be mugged or attacked. Although, the victims of Alexis Neiers and her young-Hollywood burglary bling ring probably don’t subscribe to this school of thought.

Still, the opinion among the stars, the paps and the consumers who view their snaps on blogs and in magazines and newspapers, is that celebrities need the paparazzi to generate publicity around them, and the paps need to earn a buck. “An interdependency develops between them,” says Howe.

Stewart sums the cycle up nicely:

“We’re interested in celebrity minutiae. Despite ourselves. It is possible to be fascinated and repulsed at the same time. You can find celebrities appealing while finding the gossip culture appalling. We buy the magazines, hate them for lying to us, critique them, laugh at them, talk about them with our friends and buy the magazines again the next week. If you’ve ever read a gossip site or flipped through a celebrity weekly, you’re part of the system: the paparazzi take pictures for the mags and blogs, the mags and blogs exist because there is an audience.”

Related: Poor Little Rich Girl: Lindsay Lohan in Who.

Poor Little Rich Girl: Who Cover Girl Heidi Montag.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] The Day I Trailed a Paparazzo.

[Vanity Fair]: The Suspects Wore Louboutins.