On the (Rest of the) Net.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes in defence of Hugo Schwyzer’s inclusion in feminism. Brilliant; it’s kind of what I wish I had written.

On Katherine Heigl’s failed career and women in Hollywood:

“Much has been said… about how Heigl herself has created the fiasco that has become her career—her alleged difficult behaviour on set, her unpopular public statements about the projects she’s involved in, her perceived irritability—but this has more to do with media gender bias than Heigl herself. For instance, Daniel Craig and Matt Damon have recently taken to making increasingly brash public statements about projects they’ve worked on, their personal politics and views on modern society—and no one has criticized them, questioned their box-office viability or used their gender to explain their remarks. Like Sean Penn, they’re men in an industry dominated by men—and unless they’re saying something overtly racist, they can say just about whatever they like, and in the case of Charlie Sheen, they might even be applauded for it.” [HuffPo]

Rick Morton attempts to dissect the “frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex” that is Rick Santorum. [MamaMia]

Madonna and black culture. [Steven Stanley]

The latest trend in YouTubing: asking viewers if you’re ugly. [Jezebel]

Rachel Hills on the launch of Sunday Life’s daily website, Daily Life, its viral pet name #DailyWife, and how women’s issues are relegated to the “lifestyle” pages:

“… I’ve wondered why everything pertaining to women is classified under ‘Life and Style’, and I’ve wondered why ‘lifestyle journalism’ is so often boiled down to advertorial for fashion and beauty products (answer: probably because the associated advertising is what pays for writers like me). I’ve wondered if the fact that writing related to gender politics is usually published in ‘Life and Style’ or colour magazine supplements contributes to the perception that… female journalists write pointless ‘pap’.” [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Why atheism is akin to being a pariah in the U.S. [Slate]

And now for the Chris Brown portion of the program…

Russell Simmons is a Brown apologist and compares his assault on Rihanna to the problems of Disney kids. Yeah, except Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Demi Lovato never hurt anyone but themselves. [Global Grind]

Why Brown’s behaviour sucks, this time from a psychological point of view. [Slate]

We failed the young ladies who tweeted they’d let Chris Brown beat them:

“We failed you when Charlie Sheen was allowed and eagerly encouraged to continue to star in movies and have a hit television show that basically printed him money after he shot Kelly Preston ‘accidentally’ and he hit a UCLA student in the head when she wouldn’t have sex with him and he threatened to kill his ex-wife Denise Richards and he held a knife to his ex-wife Brooke Mueller’s throat. We failed you when Roman Polanski received an Oscar even though he committed a crime so terrible he hasn’t been able to return to the United States for more than thirty years. We failed you when Sean Penn fought violently with Madonna and continued a successful, critically acclaimed career and also received an Oscar.

“We fail you every single time a (famous) man treats a woman badly, without legal, professional, or personal consequence.” [The Rumpus]

One of my favourite professional wrestlers, straightedger CM Punk, challenges Brown to fight someone his own size. [Jezebel]

And ANOTHER stand up guy challenges Brown to a fight! [Deadspin]

Magazines: Hollywood Pregnancies—There’s Something in the Water.

You might remember a few years ago, in 2007, when it seemed like every celebrity was pregnant, and some surprisingly so. Nicole Richie with Harlow, Christina Aguilera with Max, Nicole Kidman with Sunday, Gwen Stefani with Zuma, Angelina with the twins, Jessica Alba with Honor, Jennifer Lopez with her twins… it was just never ending!

I was surprised back then to never read an article on the phenomenon. (Then again, I wasn’t as immersed in the fledgling blogosphere at that time and kept my celebrity trend reading to the weeklies and monthlies.) Now I finally get to write about it.

Opening up this week’s Who (and Famous, which came out today, asserting that Blake Lively’s pregnant. She probably just ate too much Thanksgiving turkey. Leave her alone!), a spate of celeb mums-to-be greeted me from its pages. Kourtney Kardashian, Jessica Simpson, Beyonce, Hilary Duff, Jennifer Garner, perhaps Kate Middleton. Now this is a high-profile list! Babies by Jessica, Beyonce and Kate have been long awaited, so expect to see a lot more of their bumps in the media. That’s not to mention how often we’ll see their offspring in the pages of the glossies after the births!

I love few things more than bump-watches and babies, so I’ll be keeping a keen eye on the growing stomachs of these celebs. Especially Beyonce, who, after appearing on Sunday Night a couple of months ago, sparked a faux-bump furor over her creased belly. Do we have another Katie Holmes-Suri saga on our hands?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Beyonce: Countdown to Overexposure.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Jessica Alba Seemingly Enjoying Pregnancy the Second Time ’Round.

Images via Who, The Hollywood Gossip.

On the Net: Sexism in Movies in Pictures.

Check out Jezebel’s slideshow of sexist Hollywood clichés from ad agency Wing New York’s promo for New York International Latino Film Festival.

My favourite is the delivery van one, above. It’s funny ’cause it’s true.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Sexist Hollywood Movie Clichés Look Much Prettier in Well-Designed Chart Form.

Image via Jezebel.

On the Net: Aliens’ Ellen Ripley as Everywoman.

From “Sigourney Weaver on the Legacy of Aliens & Her Sequel That Hollywood Won’t Make” by Eric Larnick on Moviefone:

“I feel like Ripley is all of us; I don’t feel like she’s an action hero. She is called to reach down and find the resources to fight in every way possible. To me it’s about all of us. There’s a Ripley in all of us. I think that’s why people love the movie and the series. She’s not a special person, she’s an every-person, and we are put into these circumstances where we have to protect others and not give up…

“What’s so exciting about women in action is that women bring a different focus to the action and it comes from a different source… Every woman you see, in her kitchen or wherever else, has a secret action heroine in her; just wait til something happens to her children or husband, then you’ll see it.”

Women in the kitchen. Hmm…

Elsewhere: [Moviefone] Sigourney Weaver on the Legacy of Aliens & Her Sequel That Hollywood Won’t Make.

Image via Moviefone.

Movies: Male Body Image in Captain America.

Captain America begins with the runty little Steve Rogers getting knocked back again and again for army enlistment because of his size. The CGI was done so well that a lot of people commented that they didn’t even know it was Chris Evans’ head seemingly Photoshopped onto a scrawny body.

It’s hard to rectify the pre-Captain America Rogers with the post-Stanley Tucci experiment Captain America. Evans looked so odd for the first half an hour or so, which is a far cry from the other films we’ve seen him in: Not Another Teen Movie and Fantastic Four, where he was predominantly shirtless and acting like an arrogant douchebag.

And as much as I preach that looks don’t matter, once I’d seen CGI-Chris Evans, I could not get that image out of my head!

It seems Peggy Carter had no problem forgetting Rogers’ humble beginnings, though. Carter had only a short interaction with Rogers before he became a muscle-bound superhero, and only began to show interest in him after the fact. Granted, five minutes of conversation, which Rogers admits is the longest amount of time he’s ever spoken to a woman for, isn’t enough to get to know anyone. But the look in Carter’s eyes was noticeably different after he emerged from the super-soldier machine (lust, awe), than before he went into it (pity).

If we want to send the message that women should be valued for more than just what they look like, shouldn’t we be sending the same one about men? Indeed, all people should be assessed based on what they offer the world and the people around them besides eye candy.

Sure, the reason Rogers was allowed to enter the military after the experiment is because his physical capabilities were enhanced. Fair’s fair. But it seems Carter fell in love with the man behind the Captain America mask; the exact same man Rogers was before the experiment. The man Dr. Erskine chose for the experiment because of these traits. The baby blue eyes and the muscles just enhanced that.

I’m not going to pretend that physical attraction doesn’t matter; it does. But psychological attraction is the connection that will stand the test of time.

Anyone will tell you that the archetype of the comic book nerd identifies with superheroes because they’re usually the underdog. People walk all over them, not recognising them for who they are until they get a magic ring, or bitten by a spider, or made into a super-human in an experiment and can show the world what they’re made of.

But why do they have to undergo a physical transformation for these traits to be acknowledged? If comic book heroes teach us anything, it’s that courage comes from within. Captain America certainly teaches us that. If only Hollywood adopted this strategy, too.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Captain America Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Will Boys Be Boys When it Comes to Objectifying Women?

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Male Models. Inside Their Straaange World.

Images via IMDb.

Event: Rock of Ages Review.

The last few musicals I’ve been to I haven’t enjoyed. West Side Story, Hairspray… My friends keep telling me I need to stop comparing them to Wicked! Fair call.

So I went into Rock of Ages last Tuesday night with trepidation. I was looking forward to the music and the ’80s campy quality, but I wasn’t expecting a storyline and character development of Gregory Maguire proportions.

And I was right. While the music and the one liners are great, Lonny (to be played by Russell Brand in next year’s big screen adaptation), the chubby, mullet-sporting narrator, admits ten minutes into the production that they should “probably introduce a storyline” to keep the audience invested.

This is where Drew aka Wolfgang von Colt (played by Justin Burford), aspiring rock star and busboy at Dupree’s Bourbon Room on the Sunset Strip (a nod to The Viper Room, perhaps?), and Sherrie, a small town girl looking to make it big as an actress in Hollywood, come in.

While Sherrie is the most vapid character I’ve seen in a musical for a long time ever, her representation is typical of women in the male-dominated rock music industry at the time: just a piece of ass.

This is all mega rock star Stacee Jaxx sees her as, and acts accordingly. Jaxx seems to embody guys like Bret Michaels from Poison, Steven Tyler from Aerosmith and perhaps Jon Bon Jovi (but he just seems too nice!), as the quintessential egomaniac douchebag who forgets where he got his start (hello, Bourbon Room!). The role is a good one, and I can really see Tom Cruise excelling in it in the film version, however I thought Michael Falzon overplayed the role. If he’d just kicked in down a notch and acted like he took himself more seriously as the best front man to ever walk the earth, I think the character would have been more effective.

In fact, if the production itself employed this tactic, I would see nothing wrong with it.

But all in all, the costumes were fab, the majority of actors killed it, the set “broke down the fourth wall”, both literally and figuratively and, of course, the music was pure ’80s hair rock and power ballads.

It’s the best thing going in Melbourne at the moment and, since the last musical I saw at the Comedy Theatre, Avenue Q, for a while.

 

 

 

Image via Crikey.

Movies: Megan Fox Too “Spicy” for Transformers?

A few weeks ago I caught a snippet from a Shia LaBeouf interview in the back pages of Famous, claiming that “Megan [Fox] developed this Spice Girl strength, this woman-empowerment [stuff] that made her feel awkward about her involvement with Michael [Bay] who some people think is a very lascivious filmmaker, the way he films women,” but wasn’t able to locate it again til this week.

Love her or hate her (personally, I lurrrrve her!), you’ve got to admire Fox for her outspokenness and, if that means, in this day and age, that she’s “Spice Girl”-esque, then so be it.

It’s kind of sad, actually, that to stand up to a cretinous misogynist and say “actually, no, I don’t want to be involved in a film where all my character does is lay about on a motorcycle while you direct the cameraman to get up-skirt shots of me” equates to being a caricature of pop-feminism from fifteen years ago.

I think LaBeouf was trying to remain loyal to both sides of the coin, but he has been critical of Transformers director Bay in the past. It’s just that he’s a guy and the star of the film, so they look the other way, whereas Fox is an apparently replaceable sex object who’ll never work in this town Hollywood again.

At least, that’s according to this week’s Famous, which has a somewhat-outdated story on Fox’s firing from the franchise, her replacement with Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and her allegedly anti-Semitic remarks against Bay. The article references a 2009 interview with Wonderland magazine, and an open anonymous letter posted on Bay’s website, which was written at least a year ago.

When talking about the release of the latest Transformers flick with a male friend, he said Fox was an idiot for trash-talking Bay and expecting not to get fired for it. (There is no evidence to suggest Fox did think that, FYI.) I wondered why Fox is the scapegoat to illustrate not biting the hand that feeds you in standing up for herself and refusing to be objectified in such a “way that appeals to a 16-year-old’s sexuality”, while Bay is lauded for his special effects and partnership with Steven Spielberg.  He said he didn’t care; having a car with a button that you could press which turns it into your very own gigantic friend was cooler. Right: who cares how horrible the people making movies are, as long as the end product is good fulfills some boyish childhood fantasy, right?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Beautiful, Bigmouthed Backlash Against Katherine Heigl & Megan Fox.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] “She Just Wants Attention.”

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Gay Chicken: Latent Homophobia in “Why Would You Go Gay For?”

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] “With a Gun Between Her Legs”: Why “Strong” (AKA “Sexy” Whilst Being “Strong”) Female Characters Are Bad for Women.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Minus Two & a Half Men.

Elsewhere: [IndieWire] Shia LaBeouf Claims Megan Fox’s “Spice Girl Strength” Got Her Fired From New Transformers Movie.

Image via Semaj Blogeater.

TV/On the Net: Reality TV & Porn Stars Go Together Like “Peas & Carrots”.

From “The Reality TV/Porn Connection” by Tracie Egan Morrissey on Jezebel:

“By baring it all, be it emotionally or physically, both reality stars and porn stars have a certain vulnerability about them that’s relatively uncommon for Hollywood celebrities. Neither porn stars nor reality stars are removed; their brand of entertainment is the exact opposite. And this unabashed openness makes them more relatable than their mainstream counterparts; these stars are human. They’re sweaty. Their faces are animated. Their makeup gets smudged. Their hair gets fucked up. They’re not perfect, and they’re comfortable presenting that to the world.”

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] The Reality TV/Porn Connection.

Image via Celebabylon.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

The disturbing, tragic life of Hustler’s Larry Flynt.

Dubai isn’t the pink-buildinged, “Middle-Eastern Shangri-La” of materialistic Sex & the City movies it’s made out to be.

“All Work, (Almost) No Pay” for the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders. Fascinating stuff.

The cult of Oprah.

The case for women to serve in combat roles in the armed forces.

Hypocrisy and “male narcissism” in “political sex scandals”.

Got a problem with SlutWalk? Finally, some solutions to make it better.

Also, for all you anti-SlutWalkers out there, This is What Slut-Shaming Looks Like”:

“1. Was I suppose to just take it in stride that random pervs found out where my little sister went to high school and speculated about whether she, too, would become a ‘whore’? An anonymous asshole emailed her last fall asking her that. Don’t tell me that’s normal criticism.

“2. What about the manufactured ‘scandal’ that Internet vigilantes began in hopes of getting my boyfriend kicked out of his Ph.D program? They decided to email the entire sociology faculty list. I was a junior at the time in the same department. Do you have any idea how incredibly difficult it is to force yourself to graduate when your professors have all read about how you’re supposedly being ‘raped’ on a regular basis? That is not criticism.

“3. Is trying to get me fired also normal? In 2009, when I was working for an education non-profit during my time off from Harvard, someone wrote a fake article about how my employer was so embarrassed to have hired a ‘porn blogger’. There were made-up quotes from ‘company reps’. They disseminated it online, not realizing that I actually told my boss about my blog during my initial interview. (He emailed me the article and totally had my back. It was one of the most touching things I’ve ever experienced from an employer, no joke.)”

I originally blew off Roseanne Barr’s New York Magazine take on sexism in Hollywood. But I read it this week and couldn’t recommend it enough. Great writing.

The Smurfette principle:

“Little girls learn to split their consciousness, filtering their dreams and ambitions through boy characters while admiring the clothes of the princess. The more privileged and daring can dream of becoming exceptional women in a man’s world—Smurfettes. The others are being taught to accept the more usual fate, which is to be a passenger car drawn through life by a masculine train engine. Boys, who are rarely confronted with stories in which males play only minor roles, learn a simpler lesson: girls just don’t matter much.”

This article on the sexual misconduct of AFL players from 2008 is just as pertinent today.

“In Defence of Prudes.”

“Women are pieces of art, men aren’t”?

What is the average Australian’s yearly income?

Sarah Ayoub-Christie writes her final post for Wordsmith Lane.

Why Psychology Today hates women.

How the celeb sex tape ruined America (NSFW).