On the (Rest of the) Net.

Charmed kitchen spells

I wrote about the power of work/life balance in Charmed. [Bitch Flicks]

Yet another piece in defence of Sex & the City. [Daily Life]

What happens when feminism becomes trendy. [Jezebel]

The unsexy reality of centrefolds: behind the scenes of Playboy (NSFW). [Beautiful Decay]

Elite feminism. [The Nation]

On-screen abortion is portrayed as more dangerous than it actually is. [Bitch]

“Interview with a Pregnant Porn Star.” (SFW) [The Hairpin]

Image via Bitch Flicks.

Movies: The Expendables 2 — Enough with the Old Men, Let’s Get Some Women Up in Here!

Sitting through The Expendables 2 last week, with plastic surgery-ravaged male faces, gory death scenes and laugh-out-loud (not in a good way), face-palming dialogue, it got me thinking about a recent rumour that there might be a female Expendables-esque movie coming to a screen near you.

While some of the names thrown around—Tia Carrere, Lucy Lawless—are a bit lacklustre, allow me to suggest a few actresses. And seeing as this is essentially a “fantasy football” Expenda-belles exercise, I’m going to be as bold as I can. Feel free to add yours in the comments.

  • Angelina Jolie.
  • The Charlie’s Angels girls: Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and especially Lucy Lui.
  • Uma Thurman.
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar.
  • Pamela Anderson.
  • Kate Beckinsale.
  • Milla Jovovich.
  • Vivica A. Fox.
  • The ladies of Charmed, but Shannen Doherty and Rose McGowan in particular.
  • Michelle Rodriguez.
  • Neve Campbell.
  • Linda Hamilton.
  • And, of course, the Holy Grail of female action stars: Sigourney Weaver.

Now, some of these actresses have transcended being associated with a potential film franchise that originally started out as a vehicle for Sylvester Stallone, written by Sylvester Stallone (Angelina, anyone?). But having said that, I think a lot of them would be up for it. Linda Hamilton has guest starred on Chuck as the titular character’s mother, so she knows how to capitalise on her action heroine status, and Sigourney Weaver made what could be seen as the cameo of the year in Cabin in the Woods, so I wouldn’t rule her out, either. Then there are others—Doherty, McGowan, Anderson, Campbell—who don’t seem to have much else going on in their careers at the moment, so I think they’d be shoo-ins.

My housemate and I were talking about an Expenda-belles effort recently, and he brought up that there would have to be a villain to rival Jean Claude Van Damme’s in the most recent instalment, and a love interest. He came up with everybody’s favourite love-to-hate movie star, Sharon Stone, as the villain, and the non-threatening, token love interest in films such as Miss Congeniality, Benjamin Bratt. If you include Halle Berry, this film is pretty much turning into Catwoman! Well, at least it’ll be better than the original…

Related: The Expendables Review.

Cabin in the Woods Review.

Image via Expendables Premiere.

TV: Is Charmed Pushing a Conservative Agenda?

For all its feminist butt kicking, I have noticed a pattern as I’ve rewatched Charmed over the last few months: its seemingly conservative agenda.

Sure, there are monstrous demons from throughout the ages; single, sexy, confident females kicking ass and taking names (mostly braless, might I add?!); and an on-the-surface progressive feel to the show, but there might be more at work on Charmed.

Take, for example, in season two when Phoebe tries to help Eric and his father, who have transcribed the ancient Akashic records, and are threatened with brain death by the Collectors, who want the information stored in their minds. While Eric manages to escape the Collectors with the help of the Charmed ones, his father remains in a coma in hospital. When the sisters urge Eric to leave his father to save himself, he refuses, saying his dad is still alive. If we’ve learnt anything from Grey’s Anatomy and all the other doctor dramas, it’s that people rarely recover from brain injury and, in my opinion, the humane thing to do is turn off the life support system.

Also in season two, when Prue is cursed by a Darklighter for trying to save a Whitelighter-to-be (played by Amy Adams, if you’re interested in a bit of trivia), Leo says that suicide prevents someone earmarked to become a future Whitelighter from doing so. Kind of like suicide can prevent a person from going to heaven…?

On the topic of religion, in one episode (for the life of me I can’t recall which one, I just wrote down the quote. Don’t take my word on this, but I think it may have been “Apocalypse, Not”, in season two.) Leo mentions that good and evil have been embroiled in “6,000 years of conflict”. What else allegedly began 6,000 years ago? The creation of the world. A not-very-subtle nod to the creationism theory.

Perhaps there was an especially conservative writer or producer working on season two only, as all these examples stem from that season. A quick IMDb and Wikipedia search yielded not many results supporting this theory.

What are your thoughts on the conservative nature of the series?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Power of Work/Life Balance.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Making a Protest Statement… with Cleavage!

Image via CharmedWiki.

TV: Charmed—Making a Protest Statement… With Cleavage!

“Hook-nosed hags is what we’re celebrating on Halloween. Personally, I’m offended by the representation of witches in popular culture.”

“Right, which is why you dressed as the Mistress of the Dark [Elvira]?”

“This costume happens to be a protest statement.”

“I am so impressed that you can make a protest statement and show cleavage all at the same time.”

That’s what costumes are all about, aren’t they?!

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Charmed: “It’s the 21st Century, It’s the Woman’s Job to Save the Day.”

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] “What? A Woman Can’t Rescue a Man?”

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Witch Trial: Burning at the Stake on Charmed.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Charmed: The Power of Work/Life Balance.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Week in Pictures: Birthday Edition 3rd November 2011.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Bad Taste Foxymorons.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Whipped Cream Feminism: The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Getting Our Pirate On, Christmas Party Style.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] ’Tis the Season…

Images via YouTube.

TV: Charmed—”It’s the 21st Century, It’s the Woman’s Job to Save the Day.”

In season two of Charmed, Billy Appleby, a character from Phoebe’s favourite old school horror movie, Kill It Before It Dies, makes it off the screen and into the sisters’ technicolour world, along with the Demon of Illusion, Bloody Mary and the slasher from Axe Husband.

When cornered by the Axe Husband, Billy chimes in, saying, “It’s okay: the man is here to save the day.” In true feminist-y Charmed style, Prue retorts with, “Billy, it’s the 21st century. It’s the woman’s job to save the day.”

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Charmed: The Power of Work/Life Balance.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] “What? A Woman Can’t Rescue a Man?”

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Witch Trial: Burning at the Stake on Charmed.

Image via YouTube.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Rachel Hills answers the age-old aspiring-freelance question: “When should I stop writing for free?” [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Last week, I emailed Hills to get her thoughts on feminist author Erica Jong’s assertion that the “younger generation” (she references her daughter, who is in her thirties) isn’t interested in sex. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Also at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, check out these reblogged images above.

Why is there such a big problem with porn? There’ll be more to come on this next week. [Jezebel, via The Scientific American]

Feminism, not enough sex, too much sex, and Muslims were the cause of the Norway terrorist, according to the Norway terrorist. [Jezebel]

Check me out: I’m Girls Are Made from Pepsi’s “Lady of the Week”!

Amy Winehouse VS. Norway: “On Caring About More Than One Thing at Once”:

“If the only world event worth commenting on is the most severe tragedy, then where does the pissing contest end? Yes, what happened in Norway was terrible, but what about what happened in Japan? What about what happened with the Asian tsunami? What about 9/11 here in the good ol’ US of A? (You said you’d never forget!) What about everything bad that has ever happened?” [Jezebel]

Girl with a Satchel’s Erica Bartle gets her faith on on MamaMia. You go, girl!

Also at MamaMia, Mia Freedman’s stirring the pot this week! She writes on Cadel Evans’ Tour de France win and if sportsmen should be considered heroes, the News of the World phone hacking scandal, and runs a guest post by Tony Abbott on why the carbon tax is a bad idea.

“What Your First Screen Crush Says About You.” [Jezebel]

Despite its misogyny, does hip hop actually promote lady love? [Jezebel, Autostraddle]

10 easy steps to radical self love. [Gala Darling]

Why rape cases don’t get prosecuted, parts one and two. [Jezebel]

“The 10 Coolest Witches in Pop Culture.” Where’s Teen Witch? And the Halliwell sisters? Disappointed. [Flavorwire]

“How Not to Propagate Bad News.” [Girl with a Satchel]

She’s out of your league. Kind of relates back to this article from a couple of weeks ago. [Jezebel]

I’ve just signed up to RSVP.com, so this article is kind of appropriate: “Questions We Wish Were Appropriate to Ask on a First Date.” [Jezebel]

Body image, burgers and the First Lady. [WSJ Speakeasy]

Four commentators, including a mum and a teen, weigh in on the Lady-Gaga-as-role-model debate. For more on this topic, check out this article. [Sydney Morning Herald, Girl with a Satchel]

Hugo Schwyzer in defence of talking to girls about beauty. [Healthy is the New Skinny]

“Does Free Birth Control Stand a Chance” in the USA? [Jezebel]

The problem with Black Swan. [Persephone Magazine]

What exactly is a “Mama Grizzly”? And no, I’m not talking about bears. [Newsweek]

“Born This Way” or choose to be gay? Does it really matter? [The Bilerico Project]

Do most men pay for sex in some way, whether it be porn or prostitutes? [Jezebel]

Images via Haley Tobey, Musings of an Inappropriate Woman.

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.

TV: “What? A Woman Can’t Rescue a Man?”

“I’m still waiting for it to happen,” warlock Malcolm replies to Prue when she gets herself transported into a painting in the season two episode “The Painted World”.

“Yeah, well keep waiting, pal!” she replies.

You’ll be seeing a bit more about Charmed over the next few months as I work my way through the seasons.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Witch Trial: Burning at the Stake on Charmed.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Charmed: The Power of Work/Life Balance.

Image via YouTube.

TV: Witch Trial—Burning at the Stake on Charmed.

2009: The year Michael Jackson died, 173 people perished on Black Saturday, and America’s first black president, Barack Obama, took office.

However, in Charmed’s imagining of a futuristic 2009, 1999’s flashforward episode “Morality Bites”, witches have been exposed and are now being burned at the stake.

Phoebe is set to burn for taking justice into her own hands and using her powers to avenge a friend’s death, “seeking to defy human nature with her way of life”.

Fastforward two years to 2011, and it’s not such a different place.

Uganda tried to push through the Kill the Gays bill, women still have to march in (Slut)walks to exert freedom of sexuality and reject blame for sexual assault, and Australia is still floundering over a carbon tax.

I’ve written on this here blog before that sometimes I get the feeling the world is regressing, especially in terms of the environment and reproductive rights.

We still vilify those who dare to lead a lifestyle outside the norm, whether it is viewed as a “choice” or not. In Charmed’s fictional world, witches could be seen as a metaphor for the “other”: people of colour, the gays, people with disabilities and, most pertinently in 2011, transpeople.

The episode could also be a metaphor for the death penalty.

When Phoebe kills baseballer Cal Greene for killing her friend, she takes the law into her own hands, and is therefore sentenced to death. An eye for an eye.

Before Phoebe accepts her fate and submits to burning alive, she tells her executioner, Nathaniel Pratt, that while she’s paying for her crime, there will come a day when he’ll have to pay for his, too. While the death penalty isn’t an issue in Australia (if it were I’d be—controversially, perhaps—for it. However, there seems to be something sickly satisfying for victims and their families to see a perpetrator rot in prison for life… Jaycee Duggard’s abductors, anyone?), the question of who decides if a person dies and who administers the lethal injection (or in this case, “gathers the kindling”) remains. And how can a person live with that on their conscience.

Charmed may be all fluff, unrealistic demon-fighting outfits and “nipple fats”, as my friend Eddie noted, but every now and then it does deal with the big issues, consciously or not.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Charmed: The Power of the Work/Life Balance.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Slutty Stride.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] A Woman Can’t Even Get on FHM’s Hottest 100 Women List.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Rihanna’s “Man Down”: Revenge is a Dish Best Served in Cold Blood.

Images via Wikia, Gamespot, PPP The Power of 3, Hopeless Obsession.

TV: Charmed—The Power of Work/Life Balance.

I’ve recently been getting back into my favourite childhood show, Charmed. I’ve got all the seasons on box set, but I still have never seen the final season! I’m aiming to get through it this time.

Despite all the midriff tops and high heels whilst fighting supernatural beings, and damaged household items, buildings and cars which seem to miraculously be fixed by the next episode, if not before, Charmed is a lesson in the work/life balance.

Prue, the head of the Charmed Ones for the first three seasons, struggles with her bosses at Buckland auction house turning into warlocks, a takeover bid by a new company determined to make several million dollars in one day, and quitting the firm to become a freelance photographer. She juggles all this with being somewhat of a second mother to Piper and Phoebe, the token dates and flings the producers throw to her every now and then, and being a witch.

In “Which Prue Is It, Anyway?”, from season one, Prue casts a spell to produce two carbon copies of herself, which carry out tasks such as dealing with her ex-boyfriend and cop on her case, Andy, whilst another one works on a spell with Piper and Phoebe, and yet another goes to Buckland’s to finish up some work. Talk about being a Superwoman!

Piper, who turns out to be the most level headed and conventionally “normal” of the sisters three (keeping in mind I haven’t seen the final season and how Piper’s life eventuates, but I do know that *spoiler alert* Phoebe gets married), gets fed up with being walked over in her season one job as manager of Quake restaurant and quits to open her own club, P3. She then gets seriously involved with whitelighter Leo, whom she marries in season three, and bores two children to him, Wyatt and Chris. They then get divorced, Piper dates other people, they get back together again… Apart from the anguish of knowing their firstborn, Wyatt, grows up to be evil, Piper’s depiction really is the most realistic of the four Halliwell/Matthews sisters.

Which brings us to Phoebe, the youngest of the sisters (until Paige comes along in season four). She enters the show as a free-spirit with a flawed perception of the future, or so we are told by Prue, who’s had her issues with Phoebe in the past. In the first season alone she works as a hotel psychic, Prue’s assistant at Buckland’s and a real estate agent. After she casts a smart spell in “The Painted World” early on in season two, Phoebe decides to expand her knowledge for good and goes back to college. After graduating in season three (wow, I wish I graduated uni that quickly!), she goes on to write a very successful advice column for “The Bay Mirror”, which fellow successful woman Elise edits. Not to forget her tumultuous personal life, which sees her intense connection with Cole/Balthazar turn her into the queen of the underworld, pregnant with demon spawn, and dealing with the death of a sister and the discovery of a new one.

Speaking of, Paige Matthews enters Piper and Phoebe’s life as a successful counsellor at the beginning of season three. She is unreceptive to being a Charmed One at first, and spends most of the first season trying to maintain a “normal life”, with a job, a boyfriend and a new family who happens to be magical. (She later quits to focus on magic full-time.)

After all, that is what Charmed is all about: sisters who just happen to be witches, and everything that goes along with both those roles. While the manifestation of three fully-groomed and immaculately dressed sister witches each morning in the Halliwell manor, who spend their days flitting about town vanquishing demons, protecting the innocent, working their day jobs, caring for their family, going on dates, maintaining a home, studying, managing their own businesses and what not, is extremely unrealistic, the sheer magnitude of what the Charmed ones have to go through each day is kind of a metaphor for what working women—especially those with an extended family who all happen to live under the one roof—go through on a day-to-day basis. And sometimes, they manage to look just as kick-ass as the Charmed ones.

Images via Wikia, CharmedP3, Fan Pop, YouTube.