Event: Legally Blonde—The Musical Review*.

 

Sydney is the host city for the Australian premiere of Legally Blonde: The Musical, and this time last week, a couple of friends and I came together from two other cities (Melbourne and Perth) to check out the latest import from Broadway.

I first became familiar with the musical version of the ditzy blonde from Bel Air with a heart of gold who makes good at Harvard a few years ago when I watched The Search for Elle Woods on MTV. I’m all over the pop-feminism of the Reese Witherspoon version (in fact, my friends and I gathered around my laptop the night before the stage show to watch the original as our hotel didn’t have a DVD player and the only thing I could fault about it eleven years on is the use of “spastic” and “retard”), and I’ve come to love musicals since seeing Wicked which I use as the benchmark for all theatre, so it was a no-brainer to make the jaunt to Sydney to see the Aussie version, starring Lucy Durack as Elle.

Let me start by saying the highlight of the night was the fact that we actually got to meet Durack, Rob Mills, who plays Warner, Cameron Daddo (Professor Callahan) and I Will Survive winner, Mike Snell as the UPS guy, after the show. Maybe because the theatre was only half full they encourage ticket holders to come to the stage door after the performance to meet the cast, but if you’re a fan of any of the above, you should pop along just for that little extra (or hang out in the back streets of the Lyric Theatre!).

I also thought the elaboration of Elle’s outing at a party dressed as a Playboy bunny was a genius addition to the play, but I might be a little biased: when a fellow party-goer tells Elle she looks like a skank in her costume, she comes up with the defence that she is actually dressed as Gloria Steinem when she went undercover at the Playboy club in 1963 and subsequently wrote the feminist manifesto “I Was a Playboy Bunny”, asking, “Would you call Gloria Steinem a skank?!” Token feminist/(ergo) lesbian Enid blurts out, “Who called Gloria Steinem a skank?!” We cheered and whistled from our third row seats and were pretty well the only ones who got the joke which was made a little more special for me personally as three days later I dressed as that exact incarnation of Gloria Steinem as a Playboy bunny for Halloween!

Perhaps watching the movie the night before the show wasn’t the best idea, as it made me appreciate the flawlessness of the former and the problematic nature of the latter, which I thought was rife with homophobia, racism and utter “what the?!” moments. Durack, Snell, Mills, Erika Heynatz as Brooke Wyndham and real live puppy dogs on stage were superb, but the clunkyness, out-of-place inclusions to the story and the abovementioned problems overshadowed the better aspects of the show.

Staying with the film, I think it’s a truly feminist piece of art because feminism isn’t really mentioned once, despite Enid’s blatant characterisation as a militant feminist, yet Elle exceeds the expectations placed on her based on her sex and sexiness. In the end you love her because she’s an awesome person, not because she’s hot, blonde, has a vagina and wears pink.

In the musical, however, feminism is almost shoved down the audience’s throat, but from an outsider’s perspective, as if the writers said, “Shit, we need to make this a bit more feministy. Quick, what do we think feminists value?” Whereas in the Witherspoon version, Elle truly does make it at Harvard on her own, on stage Emmett’s character features more heavily and he pretty much guides her through her trials and tribulations which Elle takes credit for solving all on her own. Not to worry, though: to really push the feminist point home, Elle proposed to Emmett because, you know, only feminists do those kind of newfangled pro-equality kinds of things.

If the dismal turn out in the session I bought tickets for is any indication, I don’t think Legally Blonde will continue its run to other Australian cities. Unless you live in Sydney, I wouldn’t recommend making the trip to see it.

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Image via Time Out Sydney.

Fictional Friends.

Last week, Alissa Warren on MamaMia listed her top five fictional friends. You know, people you’d be friends with… “if they were real.”

Let me know in the comments who you’d be fictional friends with but, until then, here are my top picks:

Elphaba Thropp, Wicked.

It’s no secret Elphaba is my favourite fictional female: someone you can look up to, who rises above hatred and discrimination, and who will stand up for her beliefs no matter what. Plus, she’s a witch! Galinda wouldn’t be too bad either…

Elle Woods from Legally Blonde.

She’s fun, she’s quirky, she’s got a cute little dog and an awesome wardrobe. And underneath it all, she’s not as ditzy as she seems. Awesome friend material.

Cher Horowitz, Clueless.

Again, someone who seems carefree and Clueless on the outside, but whose heart is in the right place. Maybe she’ll let you come over and program your wardrobe into her computer. Just think of the outfit-planning time you’ll save.

Gus Bailey.

The fictional version of the late Vanity Fair columnist and man about town Dominick Dunne, Gus Bailey, would always give you the inside scoop, and probably feature you in his gossip columns! Anonymously, of course. You’ve got to keep up appearances.

Blair Waldorf/Dan Humphrey, Gossip Girl.

I’m not sure which one I’d like better as, personality-wise, they’re pretty much the same person. They exchange emails and phone calls whilst ploughing through their identical Netflix queues. They enjoy art, foreign films, being “in” with the “in crowd” and bygone eras. You could borrow Blair’s clothes, but Dan’s nice to look at… I can’t choose!

Kat Stratford, 10 Things I Hate About You.

She’s everything I’m not. She’ll shun the prom (but actually ends up going!) due to its patriarchal confines. She’s musical. She loves the riot grrl scene. She ploughs through feminist literature whilst listening to Spiderbait. And she don’t give a rats what anyone thinks of her. Total. Feminist. Icon.

Heather Mooney, Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion.

Anyone who openly tells people they don’t like to “fuck off” is someone I want to get to know! Plus she’s hilarious despite her best efforts to come across as cold and callous.

Scout Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Sure, she’s a little young to be best buds with, but maybe I could be her babysitter?!

Related: Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

It’s All About Popular… Lar, Lar, Lar, Lar.

Strong Female Characters in the Land of Oz.

Pop Culture Power Women.

So Misunderstood.

Pop Culture Role Models.

In Defence of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne Review.

Images via Freewebs, IG Style, Abhishek Tiwari, USA Today, TV.com, Inspired Ground, Flickr, The Hero Construction Company.

So Misunderstood.

Do you ever feel like you’re misunderstood?

Rachel Hills does, in “Lessons in Feminist Activism, From Someone Who Has Been on Both Sides”:

“I felt like I was being mischaracterised… by 20 I was well and truly a feminist. A bottle-blonde, Elle Woods style feminist with a penchant for pink, perhaps, but very definitely a feminist nonetheless.”

And I certainly do sometimes. The other day I was called a “closet feminist”, which I found as offensive as if I had been homosexual and called closeted. Or, just because I take pride in my appearance and like me a new clothing purchase here or there, the copious amounts of blogs, articles, books and non-fashion-related magazines I read mean nothing, because people think all I read about is fashion. (To be honest, I find nothing more boring than reading about fashion.) Or, when I asked to borrow a copy of a friend’s Time magazine when they were done with it, they retorted with “why?! There’s no fashion or celebrity items in there!” (It was the 100 Most Influential People issue with Lady Gaga on the cover, so technically, there were celebrity items in there!)

Sometimes I feel like my life is one big Clueless repeat. When Cher cracks it with Josh for telling her not to worry about her dad’s business going under and to go shopping instead, that is a constant conversation I seem to have with people in my life.

Or, in Legally Blonde, which Hills refers to, when Elle is shunned from Enid Wexler’s study group when she approaches them in her signature uniform of pink, bearing a basket of muffins; I can’t say an incident like that has ever happened to me, but I can definitely empathise with Elle’s dejected feeling when she’s deemed not worthy (or not smart) enough to join their group.

Not everybody makes me feel like this: I have a handful of very close friends who know me inside and out, and know that what I present myself as on the outside is not necessarily a reflection of what’s on the inside.

My defense mechanism is to put on a cold, ditzy, Valley Girl-esque persona, which is why most people don’t like me when they meet me. But at the end of the day, it’s not about what people who don’t know you think about you; as long as you, and the people close to you, are happy with who you are, not what you wear or what you choose to do in your own time, that’s all that matters.

Related: It’s All About Popular… Lar, Lar, Lar, Lar.

Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

What’s the Use of Being Supergirl if I Can’t Even Get a Date?

Pop-Culture Power Women.

Elsewhere: [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Lessons in Feminist Activism, From Someone Who Has Been on Both Sides.

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Have You Ever Seen Yourself Through Someone Else’s Eyes?

Images via YouTube.

Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

I’ve been wanting to write a post on Overthinking It’s “Female Character Flowchart” since I saw it on both Jezebel and Musings of an Inappropriate Woman about two weeks ago, and the time has finally come I’ve finally gotten around to compiling a list of my favourite fictional female characters and whether they qualify as “strong” ones.

Without compromising the quality of the image, I wasn’t able to enlarge the chart, nor add my own annotations as per the below characters of my choosing. Instead, I’ve reproduced their equations below, as well as Mean Girls’ Regina George, who appears on the chart, and Blair Waldorf, whom Rachel Hills believes is a “girl Hitler”, but who I find to be much more of a genuine strong female character.

Regina George (Mean Girls): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? NO. Villain? YES. Sexualised? NO. (I would argue yes. Hello? Have you seen her Halloween getup?) Over 35? NO. Is the protagonist male or female? FEMALE. Is this a rom/com? NO=Mean Girl.

Blair Waldorf (Gossip Girl): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? YES. Does she represent an idea? NO. Does she have any flaws? YES. Is she killed before the third act? NO=Strong female character.

Belle (Beauty & the Beast): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? NO. Villain? NO. Is she mainly a love interest? YES. Do they get together? YES. Is she only interested in her man? NO. Is she in a committed relationship with a protagonist? NO. Changes her man or is changed? CHANGES. Are they from different cultures? YES=Nobel Squan, whatever the hell that is! (Looks like something out of Avatar, though.)

Scout Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? YES. Does she represent an idea? YES. Villain? NO. Is she mainly a love interest? NO. Is she part of a team/family? YES. What is her main role? LEADER. How does she feel about babies? NOT RIGHT NOW. Does she get pregnant? NO. Is she in a horror story? NO. Is she violent? NO. Is she nearly perfect? NO. What is her flaw?=sassmouth, which I guess is true, but Scout is so much more.

Elphaba (Wicked): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? YES. Does she represent an idea? YES, many. Villain? NO. Is she mainly a love interest? NO. Is she part of a team/family? YES. What is her main role? ROGUE=wildcard.

Elle Woods (Legally Blonde): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? YES. Does she represent an idea? YES. Villain? NO. Is she mainly a love interest? NO. Is she part of a team/family? YES. What is her main role? LEADER. How does she feel about babies? NOT RIGHT NOW. Does she get pregnant? NO. Is she in a horror story? NO. Is she violent? NO. Is she nearly perfect? YES. Is she older? NO. Should the audience like her? YES. Who likes her more? WOMEN=Mary Sue.

Related:  Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

Elsewhere: [Overthinking It] The Female Character Flowchart.

[Overthinking It] Why Strong Female Characters Are Bad for Women.

[Jezebel] Flowchart: Know Your Female Character Stereotypes.

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Flowchart: Know Your Female Character Stereotypes.

Event: Girls Night In.

Saturday night marked my first foray into hosting a charity event and, armed with “authority to fundraise”, lots of chocolate, and some choice DVDs, myself, my housemate and a bunch of girlfriends were ready to (fund)raise the roof.

I had never heard of Can’t Buy Me Love until Easy A, a retro flick starring a young (and completely different-looking) Patrick Dempsey which is heavily referenced in the modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter, along with other teen classics. But, it is worthy of its cult status, was hilariously illustrative of the times, and was the perfect movie to begin the night with.

Next up, we broke out Now & Then, which my cousin had never seen, so it was nice to pass on a coming-of-age tale that my sister and I used to watch almost every weekend during our childhood. Everyone else had seen it though, and we enjoyed quoting lines (“It’s not very big.” “It’s only big when a guy gets a hard on.” “What’s a hard on?” “Doesn’t your mother tell you anything?” “I’m beginning to think she’s been misinformed.”) and getting our nostalgia on.

By this point, one friend had to leave as the uni textbooks were beckoning, but she missed out on the apparent appeal of Patrick Verona in 10 Things I Hate About You (I never was a Heath Ledger fan). It’s been a while since I’ve seen this flick, but it was every bit as good as I remember it to be. Love the quintessential late ’90s outfits and feminist quips from Julia Styles’ Kat Stratford, and the film always makes me want to sit around the house reading like she does. Oh wait, I already do that!

After the third film, it was nearing the end of the night, but one guest a law student, no less had never seen Legally Blonde, so we had to break it out and have the event go into overtime or risk blasphemy against one of my all-time favourite characters, Elle Woods. It was during this film that we got a little stereotypical, and starting braiding each others hair!

All in all, a Girls Night In was a great excuse to eat junk food, have a movie night and raise money for the Cancer Council. And surpassing my fundraising goal was just a bonus. Will definitely be organising a Girls Night In next year, in conjunction with the “cruise director on the lido deck”.

Related: Easy A Review.

Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

The 10 Commandments of Work/Life Balance.

Recently, Mia Freedman posted a list of the ten things she needs for work/life balance, based off a speech she did on the topic.

So I thought I’d shoot off my ten must-haves for staying sane. What are yours?

1. Reading. Without something to readbooks, magazines, blogsI would go crazy. Most days of the week I try to set a good chunk of the evening aside for reading, in addition to whatever reading I manage to get done throughout the day. It simultaneously calms and inspires me.

2. Television. When I’m really spent, I love nothing more than lapsing into a coma, carving out a me-shaped groove, Homer-style, in the bed and getting my Grey’s Anatomy/Glee/Gossip Girl (the three G’s) on.

3. Writing. While I’m not getting paid for blogging, I do consider it a job, therefore I usually work six or seven days a week. Sometimes writing can seem like a chore, as I’m sure it does for all bloggers and writers of any kind at some stage. However, my blogging style and schedule are always changing. I’ve always been a morning person, so I try to churn out reviews and longer articles in the morning before I burn out, then work on smaller/easier posts around midday, and usually clock off around 2pm. Learning what works best for me helps keep writing enjoyable for me.

4. Friends. I’m a hermit by nature, so I really have to force myself to get out and see people. Luckily, a lot of my friends are people I’ve met through work, so everyday is like a play date, and any extra time with them (lunch, movies, after-work drinks) is a bonus. Having a balance of work and play makes me value both more.

5. Staying busy. Following on from the previous sentence, the busier I am, the more inspired I become, and the more I value my downtime. But when work dries up, so too does my inspiration and motivation. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.

6. My day job. As I said above, I love the people I work with, so most days are riotously fun. I won’t lie, though; sometimes I struggle with the mundaneness of my job description, but four paid days a week and two to three blogging days a week makes for a content Scarlett.

7. Exercise. I’ve been a bit slack with the exercise routine lately, but I started back up again on Sunday, and I have to say: I’m feeling good. As Elle Woods said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy”.

8. Write-off days. Sometimes I just feel too tired/sick/insert motivation-affecting emotion here to get up and do the things I need to. In those situations I just write-off the rest of the day and stay in bed with a box-set. I can’t say I don’t struggle with the guilt following one-such-day, but that’s something I’m working on.

9. Fun outings. Dinner/movies/after-work drinks can become a bit monotonous after a while, so I try to shake things up in my friendship group/s by organising fun things like trips to the zoo for friends’ birthdays, dancing all night to ’90s tunes, and indoor rock-climbing. 90% guaranteed to produce lifelong memories… not to mention numerous Facebook profile photo-ops!

10. Me-time/Downtime. Similar to write-off days, but provided I’ve had enough me-time/downtime interspersed between working, blogging and socialising, there is no need for a write-off day. I have been known to pass on social occasions in favour of a good book/magazine/blog/TV show/movie and a bath/block of chocolate/cup of peppermint tea to preserve my long-term sanity and maintain the work/life balance.

Event: Girls Night In Dream Guests.

This year will be my first year hosting a Girls Night In event in the hopes of raising money to battle women’s cancers.

I’ve been planning to hold a supremely cheesy movie night (where Legally Blonde and Clueless are on the cards) for a while now, so I thought, why not raise money for cancer while we’re at it.

Those who I’ve actually invited know who you are, but in the spirit of raising awareness of female cancers, I thought I’d churn out a list of my ideal Girls Night In guests.

No Girls Night In would be complete without the hilariously self-deprecating musings of Mia Freedman. It’s true; any chance I could get to speak to Freedman face to face I will take, so of course she had to be at the very top of my list.

Next is my blog-crush, Girl with a Satchel’s Erica Bartle. I’ve said time and time again that Bartle’s blog was what inspired me to start my own, and I would love to pick her brain whilst chilling out with Cher & Co.

Rachel Hills’ Musings of an Inappropriate Woman is a fairly recent addition to my blogroll, but her insights into pop culture, feminism and sex would go down a treat with a glass of champers or two and some nibblies.

Ah, Gala Darling, where do I start? With her quirky personality and ever-changing hair colours, she would be the life of the party, and no doubt bring along some über-cool DVDs that no one else would’ve thought of.

I can’t include all my favourite bloggers and not include Sarah Ayoub of Wordsmith Lane. We seem to have a similar admiration for all the ladies listed above, and with a wedding on the horizon, I’m sure Sarah could use a bit of pampering.

Not many Scarlett Woman readers will be familiar with my next guest, but those of you who know me well won’t be surprise that I’ve included Stephanie McMahon on the list. Not only is she the daughter of World Wrestling Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon and wife of WWE Superstar Triple H (my favourite wrestler, BTW), but she is the Executive Vice President of Creative Development and Operations. At one point in my teenage angst years, I even claimed that McMahon had the life I wanted. So it’s only fitting that she be brought into the fold of women who have the lives I want now.

Sarah Jessica Parker has overstayed her welcome as Carrie perhaps a tad too long, judging from reactions to Sex & the City 2, however, I find Parker as a person fascinating and very normal. And in her honour, of course we would have to break out some Carrie fever in the form of the SATC box set.

Finally, provided she brings gifts from her fashion line and any number of her Hermes Birkin bags for us to caress, Victoria Beckham will be welcomed with open arms. I believe that, underneath it all, VB is a fairly normal person, with a tight reign of control over her public persona. I think everyone could learn a little something from Mrs Beckham.

And so concludes my dream guest list. I will be blogging about the actual event in a few weeks time, including the food, the flicks and, most importantly, how much we raised for the Cancer Council.

Related: Profile—Sarah Ayoub of Wordsmith Lane.