12 Trends of 2012.

Girls (Who Run the World).

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So misogyny may be running wild in the real world, but on TV, girls are calling the shots. We’ve had a bevvy of shows with “girl/s” both in the title and the storylines this year, with 2 Broke Girls and New Girl carrying their success over from 2011. While a lot of the subject matter is problematic, both shows have women carrying the comedy. Which brings us to just plain Girls, which is the brainchild of actor, writer and director Lena Dunham. Girls is not without its problems, either, but its portrayal of young urban women is almost faultless. Rounding out the representation of leading ladies in 2012 we have Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23, Homeland, Revenge, The Mindy Project, Are You There, Chelsea?, Smash, GCB (farewell!), Scandal, Nurse JackieVeep, Emily Owens, M.D., Whitney, The Good Wife and Hart of Dixie.

“Call Me Maybe”.

Until “Gangnam Style” came along, the YouTube Zeitgeist was dominated by one runaway success: Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”. Justin Bieber’s protégé came out of nowhere with the catchiest song of the year, which was subsequently covered by the guys from Harvard’s baseball team, Barack Obama and the Cookie Monster! Talk about diversity!

2012: Apocalypse Now.

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2012 was the year of the apocalypse, with the 21st of December long determined by the Mayans (or Mayan conspiracy theorists) as the day the world ends. You know, until the 7th of December tried to steal its thunder as the apparent recalculated date. Apart from the natural disasters, warfare and massacres, the 21st passed without a nuclear bombing, ice age or attitudinal shift, putting rest to the apocalypse panic. Until the next rapture, anyway…

Shit ___ Say.

It started with a sexist albeit funny YouTube video of a guy in a wig quoting “Shit Girls [Apparently] Say”, which snowballed into “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls”, “Shit New Yorkers Say”, “Shit Christians Say to Jews” and “Shit Nobody Says”. Cue offence.

Snow White.

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Snow White was everywhere this year: Mirror Mirror, Snow White & the Hunstman, Once Upon a Time… Note: overexposure isn’t necessarily a good thing. In fact, I hated Mirror Mirror and Once Upon a Time, and Snow White & the Huntsman was such a snooze-fest I can barely remember what happened (not including Kristen Stewart’s affair with director Rupert Sanders).

50 Shades of Grey.

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On the one hand, E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey has singlehandedly revived the flailing publishing industry, so that’s a good thing. But on the other, it has falsely lulled its legions of (mostly female) fans into a state of apparent sexual empowerment: it’s a book about sex targeted towards women, so that means we’re empowered and we don’t need feminism anymore, right?

Oh, how wrong you Anastasia and Christian fans are…

“Gangnam Style”.

The Macarena of the 21st century, Psy’s horse dance took the world by storm, being performed in conjunction with Mel B on The X Factor, with Hugh Jackman in his Wolverine gloves, on Glee and at many a wedding, 21st birthday and Christmas party.

Misogyny.

Misogyny has long been the focus of feminists, but the word and its meaning really reached fever pitch this year.

After Julia Gillard’s scathing Question Time takedown of Tony Abbott and his sexist ways, people everywhere were quick to voice their opinion on her courage and/or hypocrisy. At one end of the spectrum, it could be said that Gillard finally had enough of the insidious sexist bullshit so many women in the workforce face on a daily basis and decided to say something about it, while at the other, many argued that the Labor party were crying sexism in a bid to smooth over the Peter Slipper slip up.

Julia Baird wrote last month in Sunday Life:

“Her electric speech on misogyny in parliament went beyond the sordid political context to firmly press a button on the chest of any woman who has been patronised, sidelined, dismissed or abused. It crackled across oceans, and, astonishingly, her standing went up in the polls, defying political wisdom that no woman would benefit from publicly slamming sexism.”

Whatever the motivation behind the speech, it went viral, with Twitter blowing up, The New Yorker writing that U.S. politicians could take a page out of Gillard’s book when it comes to their legislative hatred of all things female , laypeople bringing “misogyny” into their everyday lexicon, and Macquarie Dictionary using the momentum to broaden the word’s definition.

Kony.

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The viral doco that had millions of people rushing to plaster their neighbourhood in “Kony 2012” posters on 20th of April to little effect (the campaign’s goal was to catch Joseph Kony by years end) illustrated our obsession with social media, armchair activism and supporting the “cool” charities, not the thousands of worthy charities out there who could actually use donations to help their cause, not to produce YouTube videos and work the press circuit.

I’m Not a Feminist, But…

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While Tony Abbott is clamouring to call himself a feminist to gain electoral favour despite the abovementioned misogyny saga, it seems famous women can’t declare their anti-feminism fast enough.

First we had new mother and Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer jumping at the chance to shun feminism despite the fact that without it she wouldn’t be where she is today. My favourite anti-feminist campaigner Taylor Swift said she doesn’t think of herself as a feminist because she “was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.” Um, Tay? That’s what feminism is, love.

Then there’s Katy Perry, who won’t let the whipped cream-spurting bra fool you: “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women.” Right then.

Garnering less attention, but just as relevantly, was Carla Bruni-Sarkozy asserting that feminism is a thing only past generations need concern themselves with, while in an interview with MamaMia last week, Deborah Hutton also denounced her feminism.

Cronulla.

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The cronies from Sutherland Shire were all over our boxes, primarily on Channel Ten, this year. There was the widely panned Being Lara Bingle, the even worse Shire, and the quintessential Aussie drama set in the ’70s, Puberty Blues.

While these shows assisted in shedding a different light on the suburb now synonymous with race riots, it’s not necessarily a positive one, with The Shire being cancelled and Being Lara Bingle hanging in the balance.

White Girls in Native American Headdresses.

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This one really reared its racist head towards the end of the year, right around the festivities of Halloween and Thanksgiving.We had No Doubt “Looking Hot Racist” and Karlie Kloss donning a headdress for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, in addition to the cultural appropriation of VS’s “Go East” lingerie line, Gala Darling’s headdress furore and Chris Brown dressed as a Middle Eastern terrorist for Halloween.

You’d think we were heading into 1953, not 2013.

Related: Posts Tagged “New Girl”.

2 Broke Girls Aren’t So Broke That They’d Turn to Sex Work.

Posts Tagged “Girls”.

Posts Tagged “Smash”.

Feminism, Barbeque & Good Christian Bitches.

Mirror Mirror Review.

Was Kristen Stewart’s Public Apology Really Necessary?

50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James Review.

Hating Kony is Cool.

Taylor Swift: The Perfect Victim.

Whipped Cream Feminism: The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

The Dire Shire.

Shaming Lara Bingle.

Is Gwen Stefani Racist?

The Puberty Blues Give Way to Feminism.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Why We Need to Keep Talking About the White Girls on Girls.

[io9] Why is Everybody Obsessed with Snow White Right Now?

[The Age] What Women Want.

[The New Yorker] Ladylike: Julia Gillard’s Misogyny Speech.

[Jezebel] Does it Matter if Marissa Mayer Doesn’t Think She’s a Feminist?

[Jezebel] Katy Perry, Billboard’s Woman of the Year, is “Not a Feminist”.

[MamaMia] Meet the Women at Our Dinner Table: Deborah Hutton.

[Daily Life] Carla Bruni’s Vogue Interview has Rough Landing.

[Racialicious] Nothing Says Native American Heritage Month Like White Girls in Headdresses.

[Racialicious] Victoria’s Secret Does it Again: When Racism Meets Fashion.

[Jezebel] Karlie Kloss as a Half-Naked “Indian” & Other Absurdities from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

[xoJane] Fear & Loathing in the Comments Section… And Some Clarity.

[HuffPo] Chris Brown Halloween Costume: Singer Tweets Picture of Himself Dressed Up as Terrorist for Rihanna’s Party.

Images via Collider, Fox News Latino, io9, November Grey, ABC, Now Public, Ten.

TV: Being Bogan Bingle in the Shire.

I read a comment on MamaMia after the airing of The Shire on Monday night that asserted with Cronulla girl Lara Bingle and now The Shire, someone from Sutherland is calling the shots on Ten.

Last night on Being Lara Bingle, Lara’s brother Josh let his quintessential Cronulla bogan come through when he pleaded guilty in court to assaulting a fellow racegoer at Melbourne Cup three years ago. In the wake of Lara’s Famous cover, he admonished his sister for being fat. Can we get over this already? As Lara tells Erin McNaught in an interview for MTV, she’s a normal sized girl, so what are the magazines trying to tell women who might be bigger than average?

Lara, Josh and Lara’s friend, Cara, discuss her weight gain after her breakup with Michael Clarke, and Josh says most girls get skinny with stress, but Lara got fat. Lara tells him that most men don’t like anorexic girls like he does, and Josh defends himself, saying he just doesn’t like girls who are “fat”.

Lara tells the pair that if she was that fat when she broke up with Clarke, they should have said something to her. Josh tells her he told her she was fat every single day. Jeez, this guy sounds like a stand-up brother, amiright?

Just like on The Shire, a person’s primary value seems to be placed on their looks. It’s not about a woman’s “brains” or “ability”, as McNaught contends, just as long as they’re skinny.

Related: The Dire Shire.

Shaming Lara Bingle.

Who the Bloody Hell is Body-Bullying Lara Bingle?

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] The Shire: Did You Watch?

Image via Herald Sun.

TV: My Response—Go Back to Where You Came From.

Last night marked the “where are they now?” special of SBS’s groundbreaking reality TV series social experiment, Go Back to Where You Came From, which aired over three emotional nights last week. The episode was called Go Back to Where You Came From: The Response, so I thought I’d offer my response to the show.

Firstly, I’d like to say that I thought it was one of the best things I’ve seen all year. Hell, I’ll even go as far as saying it’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Given the opportunity, I would have loved to go along with Raye, Adam, Darren, Raquel, Gleny and Roderick to Malaysia, Jordan, Kenya, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Certainly, I would think twice about going to those countries on my own, but were the participants in any real danger with a camera crew and, I’m guessing, copious amounts of security around? My money’s on no.

While there has been a lot of criticism of Darren and Raquel, especially, and I was (and still am) one of those naysayers, a lot has to be said for the participants’ willingness to enter into the experiment; their willingness to let the experiment change their views.

I still think Raquel is a bit ignorant and sheltered, but I was really proud of her embracing an offer of friendship from a woman in a “teatowel” on the special last night. She said it right when she said “we all have hearts”, and witnessing what they did would be enough to soften even the hardest heart. Darren notwithstanding.

In fact, I think Raquel hit the nail on the head when she kept complaining throughout the journey that she’s an “Austraylyan” (is that the phonetic spelling for the bogan pronunciation of our country?), that she hasn’t been brought up like this, and—especially—that in the refugee camps, everyone was staring at her and she felt like she didn’t belong. I’m sure these are all feelings refugees have. We’re lucky enough to be raised in the “lucky country”, so to speak. Don’t you think we should extend some of those privileges to those not as lucky?

Another one of the participants I was really proud of was Adam, the Cronulla lifeguard. He certainly came into the program with a set of prejudices from his upbringing in the affluent beachside suburb and his involvement in the 2005 riots there, but I almost cried in the second episode when he sheepishly admitted that he would get on a boat: the very action that he’d been decrying from the beginning. I was happy he changed his mind because a face like that goes to waste on a person so right-wing!

Raye was another who had a marked turnaround. In most of her scenes I wept along with her, and it was great to see her spending time with the Masudi’s, the eldest child of which is coming to stay with her and her husband this weekend.

That leaves Gleny (yay!), Darren (boo!) and Roderick (meh!).

I felt that Roderick didn’t get much screen time and therefore we weren’t really clear on his motivations for going on the program, nor his beliefs. I wasn’t such a big fan of his Tony Abbott t-shirts but, as he said on last night’s special, he believes in the freedom of speech and religion, which is what the Liberal party stands stood for.

Gleny was super awesome and I applaud her efforts to more fully understand the plight of refugees and her offer to house some should it come to that. And if it comes to that, I would be there right alongside her. If people are complaining about people from other countries “infiltrating” the Aussie society and that they should “speak our language”, what better way to integrate them than to have them live with you? Next SBS “social experiment” right there!

Darren was someone I couldn’t really understand; to witness everything he did and the only result be downgrading his vilification of asylum seekers from “queue jumpers” to “system dodgers” is pretty cold-hearted. Especially seeing as his wife is Taiwanese, and could very well have been an asylum seeker if her circumstances were different. A lot of attention was drawn to his children, as well: would he put his family on a boat if it meant the possibility of a better, safer life for them? (The answer was no.)

One of the many things I found interesting was the different reactions from different participants when their views were challenged. Raye and Adam were quick to change their status on refugees and became the darlings of the show, somewhat. But Darren and Raquel, who had the furthest journeys to take in terms of changing their opinions, dealt with this with anger and frustration. The angrier they got, the more the audience could see just how uncomfortable they were with this. Again, as Raquel said, “we all have hearts”.

You’d have to be positively heartless for this show not to affect you. Most of the people I spoke to who watched it said they cried at some point each night. Them and me both. I just hope what eventuates from this show is a deeper understanding of the plight of asylum seekers, and a fire being lit under the government’s ass to make some actual change happen.

Elswhere: [SBS] Go Back to Where You Came From.

Image via SBS.