My Week in Pictures.

The Descendants. 

It only won one of the Academy Awards it was nominated for, and perhaps deservedly so, but it’s an enjoyable movie and George Clooney is great in it.

The stack. 

I read a fantastic article about pit bulls in Good Weekend on Saturday, and I have to say, it validated my view that not all dogs—just like humans—can be judged by the actions of a few. I can’t seem to find the article online, but if you can pick up a belated copy, please do.

Nursery rhyme-themed birthday party.

Birthday Bo Peep.

The Mad Hatter, Ring Around the Rosey and a Hipster Blind Mouse.

Me and the birthday girl.

True dat.

Ten minutes into the night and my stockings are already ripped!

A Bar Called Barry, Lana’s 27th birthday and nursery rhyme theme = fun!

Sportsgirl top. 

After some rigmarole involving not enough money in my account, Telstra going down, my size being sold out and the style I wanted only being available online, I finally got the Sportsgirl Peter Pan animal print top I’d been fantasising about for several weeks!

I’m officially an organ donor!

Congrats to the lucky recipients of my tissue and organs! Seriously though, my card arrived in the mail last week which was, fittingly, Organ Donation Week, and I’m so happy that if I’m braindead my organs can live on and give life to someone else after I’m gone. I urge everyone to sign up. Go to Medicare’s Organ Donation Register to do so.

The Descendants image via LUChameleon.

In the News: Who is Stacy Keibler?

You might have seen the blonde Glamazon on the arm of notorious bachelor George Clooney at the premiere for his movie The Descendants a couple of weeks ago. They even spent Thanksgiving together.

But who exactly is this tall, blonde and beautiful woman?

Stacy Keibler has been in such TV shows as Punk’d, Chuck and US Dancing with the Stars, and in movies like Big Momma’s House 2. Before she got together with Clooney, Keibler was in a long-term relationship with Geoff Stults of 7th Heaven fame, who also caught the eye of Jennifer Aniston at one time.

But Keibler’s biggest claim to fame was as a WCW Nitro Girl and WWE Diva. For those not familiar with the acronyms WCW and WWE, they stand for (the now defunct) World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment, respectively. That’s right, Stacy Keibler was a wrestler…

Well, more of a piece of eye-candy than a wrestler, per se, who strutted around in short shorts and mini skirts, using her 42” legs to her advantage in Thanksgiving gravy bowl matches, lingerie matches and Santa’s Little Helper matches. Hey, no one ever said professional wrestling was feminist!

She spent seven years in the biz (as they call it in, erm, the biz!), at one point even studying full-time, appearing weekly across the country as a Nitro Girl and cheerleading for the Baltimore Ravens, all at the tender age of 20! Keibler acted as a valet for wrestling Superstars such as The Dudley Boyz, Test (the ring name of the late Andrew Martin), Scott Steiner, Randy Orton and Rosey & the Hurricane. Despite her athleticism, Keibler never won a major wrestling title.

And she’s not just all about the glitz and glamour; Keibler has been involved in charities as part of the WWE, including SmackDown! Your Vote, a campaign to mobilise unregistered voters in the U.S., Make-a-Wish Foundation, as well as UNICEF and the Celebrity Soccer Challenge outside of the ring.

Whilst she has now moved on to bigger and better things (you can’t get much bigger and better than George Clooney, amiright?), she will always be known as the “legs” of professional wrestling.

Images via The Hollywood Gossip, Inside SoCal, YouTube.

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.”

Men on Chapel Street.

Even though I live quite close to Chapel Street in Melbourne, I try to avoid going there as it is not my scene at all.

The other night I ventured as far down as I’ve been in years, to Lucky Coq, on High Street, for drinks with a friend.

The outing reminded me of the last time I’d been that far down, which was back in 2008 for a uni project. Odd, I know, but stay with me.

One of my final units was a media subject entitled Men & Masculinities. I was hesitant to take on the course, but it was my final year and I’d already done all the good ones. Aside from my inept teacher, the unit was really fun, and some of the topics I studied have influenced me to this day.

The reason my study group and I trekked to Chapel Street was to examine the different types of masculinities we observed there. With the National Institute of Circus Arts and the multitude of gyms and boutiques located there, I was expecting to see a lot of buff, fashionable men concerned with their appearance. In short, I expected to see the “metrosexual” in his natural habitat.

After a bit of rummaging through my hard drive, and a quick Google search, I managed to find the articlean interview with Professor of English, Sociology & Women’s Studies at the University of California, Toby Miller, by Jenny Burton and Jinna Tayby which I used to establish some theories about men on Chapel Street.

Keep in mind that these observations were collected two years ago, and I have tried to keep my notes as close to the originals as possible (present day annotations in italics). A lot of the subject matter discussed then has entered our current vernacular; or at least, the vernacular of this here blog, and the ones I frequently read.

Metrosexuality.

“… The phenomenon of the new man, which tends to annex beauty to the wider theoretical works of fashion, with grooming making fleeting, untheorised appearances.”

That’s not so true anymore, as fashion and grooming are becoming as equally important to men who want to look good and take pride in their appearance. Even something as simple as shaving is classed as grooming, and most men we observed on Chapel Street were clean shaven, or at least were doing something different with their facial hair (such as “designer stubble” and goatees instead of a full beard). [Had it been November when the study was done, perhaps I would have seen some mo’s out there?]

“Is the metrosexual a middle- rather than working-class phenomenon?”

I think typically the metrosexual is viewed as upper- to middle-class, and we certainly did see men of these demographics whom you could call metrosexual. However, the working class (tradies, construction workers) could also be seen as metrosexual, because even though they were engaged in manual labour and had “hard” bodies [muscly; evidence of working out], they were still well-groomed and took pride in their appearance.

“Taking pleasure in one’s body, nurturing it, caring for it, protecting it from the elements and so on kind of loosens those old bonds of conventional masculinity, which forbade these behaviours for men and made them taboo.”

The theory here is that men taking pleasure in their bodies and wanting to look physically attractive, for example by going to the gym, is taboo. Do the men we see going to the gym look ashamed of, thereby succumbing to the taboo, or proud of, their hard or soft bodies? (Hard bodies at the gym; soft bodies in certain subcultures like emo, punk, grunge etc.) I wasn’t expecting to see men ashamed of their bodies, especially in a trendy, affluent place like Chapel Street. However, older, out of shape men were a bit more self-conscious than their younger, better-looking counterparts because they tended to look at the ground when they were walking and didn’t make eye contact as much as the more confident men.

“Given all the effort women make to look okay, it seems only fair that men should have to go through something approximating to that level.”

As we expected, there weren’t really any significantly out of shape, badly-groomed or badly-dressed people on Chapel Street. The women took great pride in their appearance, both in their body shapes as well as how they dressed and groomed themselves. This was echoed in the male population, who all were well-dressed, mostly in shape, and well-groomed. In that respect, it could be seen that men are taking a leaf out of the females species’ book.

“… I think it’s [metro sexuality] pretty peculiar to Australia.”

The typical Australian man is seen as a “blokey bloke” in footy shorts and a bluey, doing manual labour and playing sport recreationally. The younger generation of Australian men are challenging this stereotype by being well-dressed, well-groomed and having more unconventional jobs (according to the stereotype) like consulting, fashion, etc. There wasn’t a typical “blokey bloke” that I saw on Chapel Street; even the construction workers, who have the most “Australian” occupation, weren’t physically reflective of the stereotype. In terms of metrosexuality being unique to Australia, it’s true in that a lot of younger men are taking care of themselves, but false in the way that Australia isn’t the only country that has metrosexuals: the US does with Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and the abundance of men in the media who take pride in their appearance and endorse beauty and fashion products, like George Clooney endorsing watches, and Matthew Fox from Lost is the face of a new L’Oreal beauty range for men. I’m not so sure about the UK, because on one hand you’ve got really metrosexual men like Hugh Grant and Jude Law, but on the other there are quite scruffy men like Rhys Ifans, who was engaged to Sienna Miller, and the downright disgusting, like Pete Doherty.

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

“… One way to analyse Queer Eye [for the Straight Guy] is as a professionalisation of queerness; a form of management consultancy for conventional masculinity.”

This can be seen in some of the shops on Chapel Street (and Church Street). We saw gyms and health food stores selling protein shakes, etc. in clusters, as well as a beauty salon specifically for men on Church Street.

“… Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is actually about re-asserting, re-solidifying very conventional masculinity.”

Because it separates the “queer” guys, who are fashionable, neat, well groomed, from the “straight” guys, who are messy, unkempt, in need of “styling” by the “queer” guys. Men on Chapel Street challenged this idea. You could speculate about which men were straight and which men were gay, but the stereotypically “straight” ones weren’t messy or “blokey”. There were a lot of business men who needed to look tidy and well-groomed for their jobs, but there were also construction workers whom you would think were typically very masculine and therefore untidy, but even they were taking pride in their appearance, both in terms of their physically hard bodies as well as their grooming.

Sport.

“… While it’s still about toughness, sport is equally about beauty, with the NFL now marketing its players as sex symbols.”

While there weren’t really any “sports” men on Chapel Street (apart from the circus/dance performers), the masculinities we observed were as much about being physically attractive to attract a mate as they were about looking tough and hard-bodied.

Eating Disorders.

“… Clearly there are big problems with eating disorders and performance enhancing drugs amongst men… These are partly narcissistic, psychological worries to do with an image to the outside world in general… Male beauty consciousness is primarily a marketing creation… Do men use toiletries and cosmetics because advertising tells them to?”

There were a lot of advertisements on Chapel Street that would support this notion, specifically the ad in the window of a gym/health food store that promotes an unachievable body type for most men. There weren’t as many hard bodies as we expected to see, however the ones that we did see in no way reflected the extreme ideal that that specific advertisement promoted. The men who worked in fashion stores on Chapel Street succumbed to the ideal that that specific store promoted.

“… Eating disorders, insecurity about looks and image, men now being oppressed by the ‘beauty trap’ and so on, but for me this doesn’t allow for the possibility that this may also be a good thing for individual men and conventional masculinity, allowing men to indulge in some self nurture.”

The men on Chapel Street who were well-groomed obviously took pride in their appearance, and weren’t ashamed of the fact that they looked after themselves. The majority of men looked healthy, which therefore supports the claim that male grooming and “metrosexuality” (men taking care of themselves) is a good thing.

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” Episode.

Elsewhere: [Media Culture] Metrosexuality: What’s Happening to Masculinity?

[MamaMia] Male Models: Inside Their Straaaange World.

Lady Most Likely: Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People

Every time I turn on the readio, it seems like there’s a Will.I.Am collaboration (“3 Words” with Cheryl Cole; Usher’s “OMG”; “Imma Be” with Black Eyed Peas) or Will.I.Am sounding collaboration (“Nothin’ on You” by B.o.B.; “If We Ever Meet Again” by former über-producer Timbaland and Katy Perry) getting airtime. The BEP front man may indeed be the new Timabland, so I was surprised he didn’t make it onto the list. There’s always next year, I suppose…

Someone who did make it on, though, is Lady Gaga.

Cyndi Lauper, Gaga’s partner-in-crime for the MAC AIDS Fund, profiles her for possibly the most talked about ranking this year. I have no doubt Gaga is the most influential person in entertainment today, as she’s collaborating with and inspiring the fashion, beauty, art, advertising, music and film worlds with her own performance artas Lauper writes, “she is inspiring other artists to go further in their own work”and striking up water cooler conversation with her boundary pushing antics, both onstage and off.

Time is spot on in naming Marc Jacobs the only influential fashion figure. Jacobs, who is profiled by fellow fashionista and friend, Victoria Beckham, glamorised grunge, began the bag lady chic movement, and is now championing voluptuousness in his new season looks for Louis Vuitton and his titular line. Perhaps Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour would have made welcome additions, but Jacobs certainly has the respect of all facets of the fashion world his peers, his models, his muses and his loyal subjects.

I am utterly dumbfounded to not see George Clooney on the list. Not only did he single-handedly organise the Hope for Haiti Now telethon but, like a fine wine, he only gets better with age.

In other “Artists” notes, shoe in Oprah is profiled by Phil Donahue, while her partner, “Mr Oprah” Stedman Graham makes the Least Influential list (more on that below); Robert Pattinson is bafflingly included (for influencing legions of teens and, worryingly, tweens ready and willing to let Pattinson bite them? Perhaps Brad and Angelina would have been better choices, as they actually contribute something to societyas well as being really, really ridiculously good looking. Or even Stephenie Meyer, without whom Pattinson wouldn’t have an Edward Cullen to broodingly portray); and “new media mogul” Ashton Kutcher, whom I was pleasantly surprised to see on the list.

Of course, President Obama makes an appearance as one of, if not the most influential leaders. While he certainly is the most well-known leader on the list, whether he’s been as influential as he could have during his first year in the presidency is a point of contention for a lot of politicos and American citizens.

My second favourite President (after Obama, George W. Bush is the only other President whose reign I was [un]lucky enough to grow up during, so Clinton wins via default), I find Bill Clinton funny, charming and smartalthough, hey may not have been utilising the latter during Lewinskygate. Nonetheless, he’s making positive change, and that’s all that matters here.

On the other hand, former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin makes the list. She is certainly fascinating and controversial, but I wouldn’t call her influential. Perhaps she would be more at home on Barbara Walters’ annual most fascinating people list?

Speaking of other lists, on page 96 you will find Joel Stein’s “The Time Bum Hundred”, relaying how he chronicled the 100 least influential people of 2010, split into “four categories… Losers, Flameouts, Morons and Slimy Bastards”. The complete list is not available in the mag, but it is on Time’s website.

Here is a sneak peak of “the Least Influential People Who Used to or Ought to Have Influence”, not including babies (who really are the least influential people in the world!), “the tattooed chick who messed up Sandra Bullocks’ marriage” (negative influence), and Tiger Woods, who just had a “bad year”, but is “still immensely influential, only now his influence lies in preventing men from texting their mistresses”: the Tom Tom GPS navigation system; “We Are the World 25 for Haiti”; Paula Adbul; Michael Jackson’s doctor, Dr. Conrad Murray who, unfortunately, was influential enough last year to play a key role in the death of Michael Jackson; Joaquin Phoenix; gay-disapprover, sex tape “without any sex” star and Former Miss California Carrie Prejean; “first dog” Bo Obama; George Clooney’s ex, Sarah Larson; former MTV TRL host Carson Daly; questionably, The Doors, who “actually sucked and just had a handsome lead singer”; Grover; Carrot Top; news anchor Katie Couric; John Edwards; the quintessential douche bag reality show dropout, Jon Gosselin; keeping it in the familyLindsay and Michael Lohan; Jersey Shore outcast Angelina Pivarnick; Bernie Madoff; Levi Johnston; Tila Tequila; Nicollette Sheridan; witches (“Charmed was like, ten years ago. It’s all about vampires, werewolves and zombies now”); anddrum roll pleaseSpencer Pratt and Heidi Montag, collectively known as Speidi. Let’s hope Heidi truly is uninfluential, especially for The Hills‘ primarily teen audience’ssake, or we could have an army of over-inflated, frozen-foreheaded Barbie clones on our hands.