The Changing Face of the Reality Singing Competition.

american idol judging panel jlo steven tyler randy jackson

There was a time, ten or so years ago, when American, and then Australian Idol, hit our screens and was judged by washed-up middle-aged music industry big wigs, like Simon Cowell, Mark Holden, Ian “Dicko” Dickson and the token female on the panel, Marcia Hines and Paula Abdul. These judges were mostly respected, if unfamiliar to Idol’s target demographic. Apart from Abdul’s “Opposites Attract”, I wouldn’t have known any of them from a bar of soap.

Not only was this before Britney, J.Lo, Mariah et al. demanded millions to sit in the judging chair, but it was also prior to the influx of talent shows; reality shows in general, really. Now we have a myriad of Got Talent’s, The Voice, The X-Factor and the truckload of former and current stars it brings with it.

x factor australia judges

For every Britney and Christina, whose careers have been languishing in the pop wasteland for the last few years and could be helped by a judging role, there’s a Nicki Minaj, whose choice to judge the latest season of American Idol in the prime of her career baffles me. And we can’t forget Jennifer Lopez, who was the epitome of irrelevance prior to taking on the gig, and is now once again one of the highest earning performers in the industry (thanks, in no small part, to her franchise of perfumes), deservedly so, as I saw her in concert last year and she is the consummate performer. Closer to home, Guy Sebastian, a reality singing competition winner himself, had a sprinkling of top ten and number one hits in the last few years, but really hit the big time with the Eve and Lupe Fiasco collaborations, “Who’s That Girl?” and “Battle Scars”, respectively, released after his turn as a judge on The X Factor.

x factor judging panel britney spears demi lovato simon cowell

So the “expert” record industry execs have pretty much gone the way of Dicko, albeit with the mainstays Cowell (The X Factor in the U.S.), L.A. Reid (ditto) and Randy Jackson from the original series of Idol, to make way for younger, sexier and more relevant, sometimes with an overhaul in between each season. And then there’s just the question marks that were obviously hired ’cause everyone else turned them down: Demi Lovato, Khloe Kardashian (tenuous) and, arguably, Nicki Minaj.

I think the new season of Idol’s focus on the feud between Mariah Carey and Minaj hinders not only the show (it’s about the TALENT), but also Nicki’s career in the long run. 2012 was perhaps Minaj’s strongest year to date, with “Superbass” being certified platinum, and “Starships” dominating the airways. While she’s never had a number one hit on the U.S. Billboard charts, Minaj was infiltrating pop culture at warp speed, so to her it might have seemed logical to dominate reality television as well. But, to me, singing competition judging panels are the domain of has-beens; people who’ve been down a similar road and can offer advice on the highs and lows of stardom. Who knows? Maybe Minaj will be the one to change that.

What do you think? Do you long for the no-frills early days of Idol, or are you all for big names on the judging panel overshadowing the talent?

Images via People, Wikipedia, Digital Spy.

In the News: The Kardashian Backlash—Overreaction?

I bet when Kim filed for divorce after 72 days of marriage to Kris Humphries, she didn’t expect a backlash this extreme. I mean, who expected a backlash at all? Celebs get married and divorced in a heartbeat all the time. And there hasn’t been a mass turning on reality TV’s favourite most famous family despite all the other desperate and fame-whorish things they’ve done/attached their name to (portapotties and a personalised credit card with exorbitant rates, anyone?), so why now?

Perhaps it’s because, firstly, rumours of Kim “recruiting” potential future husbands, the cliché proposal with rose petals and the $10 million made-for-TV wedding event did nothing to quell suspicion that not only was Kim and Kris’ whole relationship a sham, but that the Kardashian family in general aren’t real in the slightest.

And secondly, if conservatives are campaigning to never allow the gays access to marriage licenses at the risk of tarnishing the “sanctity of marriage”, what the hell does a 72-day charade union say about the sanctity of marriage? (Yes, I’m well aware this joke has been done to death in the media and on the comedian circuit.)

Yes, those reasons are certainly valid ones to perhaps stop watching the show and buying the gossip mags. But Kim Kardashian and her family have never been the best role models (hello, Khloe and your DUI arrest and lock-up!). This is hardly the worst crime against humanity celebrity they’ve committed, and it’s sure not to be the last.

But, by the same token, perhaps a family who’ve built their brand around being famous and making money by any means necessary deserves what they’ve got coming to them?

Personally, I was shocked at the divorce announcement and clicked on the links for the first couple of days, but now I’m—as I’m sure everyone else is—sick of it. To me, it’s just another chapter in the Keeping Up with the Kardashians soap opera. I’ve become desensitised to it all.

So what do you think? Is Kim’s divorce the final straw? Will you stop supporting her brand? Do you even care?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Kim Kardashian Backlash.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Is Kris Jenner a Bad Mother?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Reality TV & Porn Stars Go Together Like “Peas & Carrots”.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Kim Kardashian’s Divorce, By the (Incredibly Ridiculous) Numbers.

[The Pursuit of Harpyness] I Can’t Believe I’m Writing This, But…

Image via News.com.au.

TV: Is Kris Jenner a Bad Mother?

She’s constantly on Khloe for her weight, Kim to prioritise her money-making appearances with family and love, and Kourtney to get married before she has another child. Not to mention that she neglects, according to them, Kendall and Kylie in favour of her older daughters.

But is Kris Jenner a bad mother because of this?

One could argue that she spent her former days of motherhood raising her six kids (not to mention Bruce’s four other children from previous marriages), and is rewarded by earning 10% from their business endeavours.

But some of the things Kris says and does arguably aren’t in the best interests of the wellbeing of her children. Or is that just how they choose to portray her on the show?

In the first season of Khloe & Lamar, Kris berates Khloe for her size (in the same episode that Lamar calls her “not small” in Playboy magazine), saying it’s not cohesive with her other sisters’ frames, nor with QuickTrim, the diet supplement the Kardashian sisters promote. In other episodes of the Keeping Up with the Kardashians franchise, Kris is on Khloe’s back to have a baby. After all, she has been married for two years (who would have thought that would last?!) and is relatively young, so it shouldn’t be that hard, right?

Kris also doesn’t approve of Kourtney’s boyfriend and baby daddy Scott Disick, and in earlier seasons of the show, who could blame her? But even after Scott made a 180° turnaround in his behaviour after son Mason was born, Kris still can’t accept him.

Kim, the head moneymaker of the Kardashian cklan, can usually never put a foot wrong in her mother’s eyes, but every now and then Kris will get upset with her for being so uptight. So do her sisters, for that matter.

But, in the latest season of Keeping up with the Kardashians, Bruce surprises Kris and the family with a trip to Bora Bora to celebrate the couple’s twentieth anniversary. The tables are turned from Khloe’s weight woes to Kris’, as she worries about her body and even contemplates surgery before they go away.

Kris asks how she’s supposed to strut around poolside in a bikini, when all of her young, hot daughters are, too? When I heard this, I wanted to throw up in my mouth a little bit. If anyone had any doubts about Kris being a “stage mum” of sorts, I think the proof is in the pudding (pardon the pun) here, as she’s jealous of her children.

I’m not a mother, so I don’t know if this is a common occurrence, but mothers should be proud of their daughters, not envious. And it’s not healthy for mothers to talk down about their own weight and appearance at the risk of passing that attitude on to their children. At the end of the day, she helped make them the way they are, and she should be proud they’re so successful.

It’s a peek into the insecurities she perhaps projects onto Khloe. I know my mum and I have clashed because of our similar traits.

If you’ve ever watched an episode of the show, you’ll see each 20-minute installment is wrapped up nicely by the time it comes to an end. Like Beverly Hills, 90210, each episode has a message, and everyone learns their lesson and it’s all hunky-dory at its culmination. Khloe realises she has nothing wrong with her body, and she’ll become pregnant sooner or later. Kim realises she needs to loosen up and, incidentally, her new husband, Kris Humphries, helps her do that.

But does the neat little package the Kardashians’ antics are tied up into mean that Kris’s overbearing and insensitive nature is just for show, or edited from an even more tyrannical version of herself?

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Is Kris Kardashian Just a Glorified Pimp?

[Jezebel] Kris Jenner, Momager Extraordinaire, Has Body Issues Too.

Image via Celebuzz.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

“The Case for Dry Humping: Why Being Prude is a Feminist Statement.” [HuffPo]

Alone time is my siren call. Here, Jezebel’s Social Minefield tells you how to get more “me time” without offended those who want to have “we time” with you.

One woman goes mirror-free for a year. [Jezebel]

Lady Gaga’s run out of people to plagiarise, so she’s turned to herself for inspiration in her latest video for “Yoü & I”. [Fashionista]

Nipple slips from Khloe Kardashian, Nicki Minaj and Kelly Rowland in quick succession: shock, horror! [The Washington Post] (SFW)

Camilla Peffer on Beyonce as the anti-feminist. [Girls Are Made From Pepsi]

The gender politics of Justin Bieber. [FBomb]

Is there a need for women to have their periods?:

“… I do want to raise the question that while we do the work of destigmatising menstruation and teach young girls to be proud and excited about their menarche don’t we also have a responsibility to question its necessity? We tell women they don’t have to have sex to have children, that breast cancer can be beaten, that they can have their tubes tied and then re-connected and their faces lifted and de-wrinkled. We live in a modern world with modern solutions, isn’t it time we started seriously thinking and talking about the need to bleed?” [Feminaust]

Porn star and new mum displays picture of her breastfeeding her newborn daughter in an exhibition challenging the Madonna/whore dichotomy of motherhood, controversy ensues:

“The idea that there is something inherently prurient about a porn star breast-feeding plays right into that classic either-or thinking: Her breasts are erotic in one venue, so they can’t be wholesome in another. It’s a wonder anyone lets her breast-feed at all! On the one hand, it’s surprising to see this attitude coming from a pornographer; on… [yet an]other hand, it’s perfectly appropriate given the way motherhood is fetishised in porn.

“…We don’t like to think of moms as sexual beings—except for in the taboo-busting world of porn (paging Dr. Freud). It’s fitting for a porn star mama, the rare industry ‘MILF’ who is actually a mom, to remind folks that, generally speaking, one has to have sex in order to become a mom.” [Salon]

Anne Hathaway’s new effort, One Day, has a “bleak worldview of co-dependence where men need women to improve them, and women need to improve themselves to deserve men’s notice and achieve their purpose,” with The Film Stage dubbing it “the most toxic romance of the year”.

Also at The Film Stage, a breakdown of Katherine Heigl’s stereotype-reinforcing rom-coms, from the career-making Knocked Up, which she subsequently dissed for being sexist, to the just-as-sexist Killers and Life as We Know It.

Here’s an extended version of Erica Bartle’s debut piece for Sunday Life. While I don’t necessarily agree with her sentiments on faith most of the time, this is a great read. Better than the published piece, dare I say? [Girl with a Satchel]

Taylor Swift VS. feminism. [Autostraddle]

Is it “time for an abortion pride movement”?:

“… Women should not merely have the right to end unwanted pregnancies, they should have the right to be proud of having done so. Surely, there is enough suffering in this world already without adding infants with Tay-Sachs disease and Lesch-Nyhan syndrome to the mix. Women who step up to the ethical plate and have the strength to say, ‘This is the wrong time,’ or ‘This is the wrong fetus,’ should hold their heads high in the streets.” [Opposing Views]

Oh, the hilarity of Photoshop on this Glee/Vogue/Fashion’s Night Out advertisement. [Styleite]

It’s not just women who get the short end of the stick when it comes to Disney films: “Sexism, Strength & Dominance—Masculinity in Disney Films.” [FBomb]

The awesomeness that is Adam Lambert. [Autostraddle]

One from the vault: Buffy’s Willow Rosenberg destroys the world when her lesbian love is killed, calling into question the show’s support of the LGBT community. [Salon]

A mother’s perspective on the dysfunctional Twilight-saga relationship between Edward and Bella. [Persephone Magazine]

The politics of the SlutWalk. [New York Times]

Five of The Simpsons’ best recipes, including 64 slices of American cheese and Vaseline toast! [Warming Glow]

Image via Chubby Wubby Girl, Styleite, Salon.

Magazines: Katie Holmes in Who—Do Celeb Bodies Makes Us Feel Better About Our Own?

The first thing I noticed when I flipped open to the Katie Holmes story in the latest issue of Who were her stretchmarks. But I was really glad they weren’t pointed out to me: I’m not a fan of body-shaming (though, admittedly and ashamedly, I sometimes succumb to it).

But, looking at Katie’s faded stretchmarks on her taut and toned abs, it made me feel better about my own. (Also, it proves the naysayers wrong: Katie was pregnant with Suri; the Cruises didn’t order her in from some Scientology farm.)

Who, however, does do their fair share of scrutinising, comparing Katie’s current bikini body with her bloated stomach in a shoe store in early May.

As I said above, I don’t like to see others’ bodily “shortcomings” pointed out to me; I’m perfectly capable of noticing them myself, and promptly ignoring them. My own bodily “shortcomings”? It’s touch and go.

The one thing I dislike about myself is my skin. It’s very susceptible to scarring and marking, and my acne scars, stretchmarks, spider veins and cellulite will attest to that. Bad skin runs in my family. But, after several years of struggling with my skin, especially on my upper legs and face, I’ve come to terms with it. You hide the areas you’re not a fan of and flaunt your best assets. I’ve embraced the ’50s silhouette in summer, and mostly wear A-line skirts that end just at the knee or mid-calf. For my money, I think I look better in clothes than I do out of them.

However, I think the only way you can become comfortable with your body is to walk around in your underwear. Or better yet, naked. Frequently. I do this all the time, and I love my body more for it. It helps you understand what you look like in all your glory, and better revel in yourself when it comes time to get naked with someone new. I can’t recommend this enough.

But back to celeb bodies. One the one hand, it would be a horrible thing to be subjected to as a person in the public eye. You would have to have a very thick (yet supple, and wrinkle/scar/pimple free, and perfectly tanned, and…) skin to deal with the scrutiny of celebrity life. But on the other hand, in this day and age, people don’t get into music/TV/film without being well aware what they’ll be subjected to. It’s not fair, but it’s a fact.

And the celebs who are open about their body struggles—Kate Winslet and her weight woes, Khloe Kardashian’s inadequacy when compared to her sisters—or even just celebs who refuse to conform to the skinny-mini stereotype—Kate Winslet (again), Pink and her baby body on the beach—give us someone to hold up as a beacon of hope when we don’t all look like the one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter mould.

While Katie still looks slim in her beach holiday photos (attention is drawn to her protruding—and, in one case, inverted—shoulder blades), her stretchmarks are what I’m looking at. And they look beautiful.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Skinny-Shaming VS. Fat-Shaming.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Name’s Scarlett, And I’m a Fat-Shamer.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Is There Really a Beauty Myth?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Who Condemns Baby-Body Bullying…

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Hills Have (Dead) Eyes.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] These Are the Un-Retouched, Un-Fake Breasts of a 33-Year-Old Woman Who Has Breast Fed Two Babies. God Bless You Kate Winslet.

[MamaMia] What a Human Body Looks Like After a Baby.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“The Evolution of April O’Neil.”

Both MamaMia & Melinda Tankard-Reist have run stories on footballers behaving badly, after the  New Zealand Warriors rugby team drafted Shaun Metcalf, who spent 18 months in jail for rallying a couple of his teammates to help him kick his pregnant teen girlfriend to cause her to miscarriage. Tankard-Reist writes:

“One of Metcalf’s key defenders and outspoken advocates is Celia Lashlie… [says]:

‘We can all get caught up in the emotional image of young men booting a young woman in the stomach to cause her to abort her baby, but these were two young people … she got pregnant, he was way out of his depth, and he did a really cruel and dumb thing.

‘He was caught in the moment, and what he did was the equivalent of a young man putting a noose around his neck because his girlfriend tossed him out. He has to be allowed to move forward and put his life together, and I think the ability of the NRL and the Warriors to take this young man in and help him do that is role modelling and something they should get credit for’…

“Oh no, we wouldn’t want to get caught up in an image of young footballers playing football with the pregnant womb of a 15-year old girl now would we?

“‘The equivalent of putting the noose around his neck’? No, it was the equivalent of putting a noose around her neck—and the neck of her child. Laslie paints the act as some kind of self-punishment. But he wasn’t assaulted. He wasn’t trying to protect the child he was carrying. It wasn’t he who might lose his life.”

“Glorified pimp” Kris Jenner VS. the “strong of character” Khloe Kardashian on her new reality show, Khloe & Lamar.

Katy Perry and Britney Spears celebrate a pop apocalypse in their new singles on Girl with a Satchel.

Also at GWAS, Erica Bartle writes in response to Mia Freedman’s take on the relevance and influence of magazines, and what that means for women.

This makes me even more upset that my body corporate won’t allow Foxtel installation: MamaMia has their own TV show on SkyNews, Tuesday nights at 8pm. Congrats to the MamaMia team; they really are showing that the blogosphere is the new media frontier.

How to make the real-life Barbie doll.

Is this what 43 looks like?

Rebecca Black’s “Friday” is more popular on—wait for it…—Fridays! Who knew?!

Hugo Schwyzer on perfection, “good guys” and respect in relationships:

“… Many young women conclude that happiness is something that you only get when you get to your goal weight. And even more troublingly, when it comes to relationships, lots of straight girls think that if their own bodies aren’t perfect, they have no right to expect too much from guys.”

Apparently, leading a sedentary, office-bound life can lead to heart disease and other health problems. Not good news for bloggers…!

Do Spanx make the world a better place?:

“… My world is a better place when I can fucking breathe. My world is a better place when someone is not trying to convince me that making myself into a human sausage will make the world a better place.”

Vintage STD-warning posters. Oh, the misogyny!

“The Public Health Problem No One Wants to Talk About”: Stillbirth.

“Stop Being ‘Shocked’ by ‘Isms’” of the rac- and sex- persuasions. And trans- and homophobia while we’re at it.

Sexualised violence is the new black.

The real-life The Wrestler: the tragic life-story of Chris Kanyon.

The perils of the unfinished book.

How to raise boys well.

Images via Jezebel, MamaMia.

Magazines: Who Condemns Baby-Body Bullying…

 

… But when the celebs in question aren’t actually pregnant, it raises the skinny- vs. fat-shaming debate, and whether people in the public eye’s bodies should be public property, too.

Kudos to Nicole Richie, who has come out with this statement:

“To publicly point out a change in anyone’s body is mean-spirited and cruel.”

God knows Richie’s had her fair share of body-bashing in the media. You go, girl!

Khloe Kardashian is another celeb who’s wrestled with both her weight (being perceived as the “fat”, “ugly” sister in comparison to siblings Kim and Kourtney probably doesn’t help) and her struggle to get pregnant:

“The media makes me feel like I’m barren and why can’t you get pregnant? I am 26 years old… When it happens, it’s going to happen.”

American Idol winner Carrie Underwood goes on to say that, “When I wear something a little baggier, I’m like, nope, people are going to think I’m hiding something.”

I’d better stop going out in public in baggy jumpers and layered shirts, then! But thankfully, I’m not a celebrity whose body, actions and shopping list is scrutinised by all manner of media.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Who Says There Has To Be An “Ugly Sister”?

The Kim Kardashian Backlash.

I sense a backlash coming on. Specifically, a Kim Kardashian backlash.

Personally, I love the girl. I think she’s sweet, with good intentions and a savvy business sense. But seriously, I am over seeing her on every magazine cover every week. She’s like the new Jennifer Aniston.

We don’t care about how she’s 30 and single and desperate, Who. So is half the population (and this is based on actual statistics that I pulled from out of my ass). I’ve got my own problems; I’m 23 and single and desperate, but you don’t see me on the cover of a weekly moaning about it. (No, but I do moan about it on this here blog!)

Only a few short months ago, Kim was the apple of Famous’s eye, guest editing an issue in May. Now she’s on its cover again, which is espousing the alleged demise of their TV show (although, which TV show Famous is referencing is unclear. Could it be Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami or Kourtney & Kim Take New York? Oh, the possibilities!) in the wake of the release of their new book, Kardashian Konfidential.

On a side note, are the Kardashian’s really in the position to be releasing a self-help book of sorts? Khloe isn’t exactly the poster girl for responsibility; she was jailed for drink driving and married Lamar Odom after a month of dating (well, they are still together over a year later, so maybe irresponsibility is the key?). While Kourtney has been blessed with baby Mason, she will be forever cursed by baby daddy, Scott Disick, one of the forefathers of douchebaggery. (More on that to come tomorrow.) And Kim is 30 AND SINGLE! Who is she to be giving advice?

The Kardashian’s are famous for being famous. I think Kim’s biggest claim to fame before turning herself into an über-celebrity was her sex tape and being Paris Hilton’s BFF, who then later likened Kim’s ass to a garbage bad full of cottage cheese, which isn’t very BFF-like. And we all know what happened to Paris: she went to jail and while she was released just weeks later, her pop cultural relevance rotted there.

If you’re not careful, Kim K, you might suffer the same fate. And nobody likes cottage cheese that’s been left out too long.