On the (Rest of the) Net.

runyon canyon l.a.

You’ll forgive my lack of postings in the past month (and last couple of weeks, especially), Early Birds, as I just got back from a month-long Stateside sojourn. But “On the (Rest of the) Net” is here with a few select articles to tide you over until I get back into the swing of things next week. The last leg of my trip was spent in L.A. where, despite the first couple of rainy days, the beautiful weather (see above, taken from Runyon Canyon) really inspired me to get up earlier, be more active, and put more effort into my writing, which hopefully readers will reap the benefits of. Until then…

Gala Darling realises, despite her radical self-love philosophy, looks-based female game shows are her favourite kind of television.

Motherhood isn’t the most important job in the world. [The Guardian]

Ten classic songs that are actually manplanations. [Flavorwire]

Is feminism cool now that all the young things are clamouring to be in the “club”? [Daily Life]

An horrific account of making a “false” rape allegation. [Free Thought Blogs]

Magazine Review: frankie—January/February 2011.

 

frankie’s last couple of issues have been fairly lackluster, however the January/February edition marks a return to form for the mag.

In terms of the pictorials, frankie’s got the hipster-esque “Magnificent Specimens”, where “photographer Dave Mead shares his favourite beardy portraits (p.45), laptop-sleeve porn on page 58, which made me yearn just that little bit more for the brand-new MacBook I am currently typing this on (!!), and Emily Chalmers shows off her “old renovated” London warehouse, where “she works as a stylist, author and shop owner of [boutique] Caravan (p. 87). At the back of the book, four artists draw their cities, with Nancy Mungcal from Los Angeles taking the take (in my book) on page 120.

It is also a quality feature-heavy edition this time around, with Heathers, Muriel’s Wedding and Gone with the Wind making an appearance in “Movies to Swear By” (p. 50), Jo Walker writing that catching a contagious yawn makes you an empathetic person (p. 110), and the world’s strangest holidays, like Punctuation Day and National Wear a Plunger on Your Head Day, on page 114.

Benjamin Law is always a joy to read (I should have included his latest, Family Law, in my “The Ten Books I Wanted to Read This Year But Didn’t”), and his articles this (bi-)month are no exception.

On page 57, Law laments life in the ’burbs, writing:

“Sing to me of Merril Bainbridge cassingles and of pas that play Tina Arena’s “Sorrento Moon” on repeat. Sing to me of Muffin Break and Mathers, of Lowes and Bi-Lo. Sing to me, oh acne-ravaged Asian teenager working at Big W named Benjamin Law, even though you’re going through puberty and really shouldn’t sing at all. Sing it sweet, and sing it loud!”

Whilst over in “An Open Letter To… The Straight Men of Australia” (p. 74), he asserts that they:

“… cop a raw deal, and that’s a culture that tells you to be a dumb, macho, insensitive piece of shit…

“But hey, the rest of us can only speculate what you’re feeling. Because god knows you can’t talk about flowery poofter stuff like feelings. Want to talk about your feelings? Clearly, you must be gay! Want to tell someone you’re sad? Go buy some tissues, gaylord! Want to ask someone whether that cardigan looks good on you? Whether you should call that girl? Whether it’s OK to drink white wine instead of a beer? Gay, gay, gay. Clearly, you’re so gay you poo rainbows…

“If you want to know what is or isn’t gay, ask me. I’m gay. I should know. Feel free to write this down somewhere so you don’t forget. Telling another dude he looks good? That’s not gay. (Women do that all the time, and you don’t see them going all weak-kneed for snatch afterwards…

“… ‘gay’ means feeling an uncontrollable urge to place yourself inside another man. Do you feel that urge? … if the answer is ‘yes’ or ‘sometimes’, well, you should come around to my place and talk. You know, about your ‘feelings’.”

Hil-al-arious!

And what I was originally going to make the first-ever “Magazine Clipping of the Week” before I’d ventured into the rest of frankie and realised it was worthy of a full review, is Rowena Grant-Frost’s essay on the dilemmas of sexiness=grown-upness (p. 40): sassy writing on a real-life issue.

Related: The Top Ten Books I Wanted to Read This Year But Didn’t.

Chase You Down Until You Love Me, Paparazzi…

The following is based on a 2006 uni essay I wrote about the camera as an intruder, so sorry for any overly academic phrasing. I have attempted to bring it into the modern day with less formal language after reading an article on Jezebel, “The Day I Trailed a Paparazzi” in which—what else?—one of the blog’s writers trailed a paparazzo for a day.

Is the camera an intruder? Some would say that, in this day and age, with advanced photographic technology and increased access by photojournalists to worldwide events, it is. However, others assert that because of this advanced photographic technology and increased access, paired with the public’s growing need, and right, to know and see, that the camera it is not.

In terms of the cult of celebrity and the growing phenomenon of the paparazzi, privacy is a major issue. Peter Howe, in his book Paparazzi, provides this definition of the occupation:

“It refers to those photographers who seek out and follow celebrities… in order to photograph them in their most unguarded moments. In short, it’s taking photographs you shouldn’t take in places you shouldn’t be”.

However, some might argue that in becoming a movie star or rock star, and thereby a celebrity, you give up your right to privacy. Privacy laws in the US, specifically in Los Angeles where most paparazzi dwell, state that “if the subject of the photograph can reasonably expect privacy in a specific situation, such as inside his home, photographs of such situations cannot be published without permission”. And, as is evident in any glossy tabloid, most paparazzi shots are taken in public places, such as shopping strips and restaurants. “The consensus of opinion among the paparazzi is that the celebrities get the privacy they deserve, and that if you really don’t want to be photographed, then you don’t go to eat at Mr. Chows or the Ivy, where there are always photographers,” says Howe.

French theorist Roland Barthes states that “people change when they’re aware they’re being photographed.” So “when long lenses can ‘trespass’”, “the traditional definitions of privacy may not apply”.

The paparazzi are viewed as the most morally and ethically irresponsible photographer in the business but, “if everyone hates their work, why are they the best-paid and busiest photojournalists in the world?” asks Howe.

Our obsession with celebrity has only grown since I originally wrote this article back in 2006, a time which was already seeing the tabloid market explode, causing “the number of paparazzi to quadruple”, explains co-owner of L.A. paparazzi firm Bauer and Griffin, Randy Bauer, in an article from Cosmopolitan that same year.

Increasingly, blogs have become the stratosphere through which paparazzi pics circulate, however magazines still pay the big bucks. The first pictures of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and their adopted son Maddox on a beach in Africa sold for $100,000; a far cry from the $6.68 million People magazine paid for the exclusive photographs of Pitt, Jolie and their first biological child, Shiloh.

In the five years since Pitt & Jolie got together and were hunted by the paparazzi (Wagner, a paparazzo who participated in a story on Jezebel, asserts that family pics of the couple are still the highest fetching shots), reality TV has reached its pinnacle, with celebs like Kim Kardashian milking their celebrity for all its worth; sad sacks like Lindsay Lohan and Heidi Montag tipping off the paparazzi in order to sell shots of themselves and keep their names in the media; and those in a league of their own, like Lady Gaga, whose song “Paparazzi” and albums “The Fame” and “The Fame Monster” take the piss out of the very machine that made them and creating a new definition of the über-celebrity/icon.

As above, though, the paparazzi are predominantly viewed in a negative light, not only by serious art photographers and the general public but, obviously, the stars they photograph. Kristen Stewart, for example, is one star who has been vocal in her dislike for the paparazzi; those in opposition to her stance might use the argument above, that to have success in the acting world is to accept the constant presence of photographers. Especially when you’re one half of the most talked about couple since the Jolie-Pitts. Elsewhere, the Jezebel article, written by Dodai Stewart, has a focus on Michael Douglas, who is receiving treatment for throat cancer, and the unremitting swarm of photographers outside his house every day. Is hounding a sick man taking our obsession with celebrity too far? American author and journalist Nathaniel Parker Willis says that, “the idea [is] that to really know someone, we must know their private life”.

From the Cosmo article: “[the paparazzi] can make celebrities feel anxious, depressed, and even mildly agoraphobic” That explains the notorious picture of Cameron Diaz, with then-boyfriend Justin Timberlake, attacking a paparazzo, then!

But, increasingly celebs are embracing the paparazzi, realising that if they work in cooperation with them, their public lives will be less tumultuous.

Stewart relays her story about Wagner trailing Liev Schreiber and his son with Naomi Watts, into the subway. After talking to the subject for several minutes, Wagner tells Schreiber that he’s “gotta get a picture of you”, and “Liev said sure, put the kid on his shoulders and let Wagner snap away… No other photographers were around, so it’s an exclusive shot.” Wagner gets paid, Schreiber comes across as a cool family man; it’s a win-win situation.

Celebs with kids can get a bit weird about them being photographed, understandably, and in the same article, when Wagner encounters Watts with the kids, she kindly asks him not to take pictures, and he obliged. See, Hollywood dwellers? There’s no need to get violent with the paps. (Granted, the pics of Schreiber and Watts were taken in New York City, where the paparazzi scene is less brutal than in Los Angeles, and there seems to be a certain air of respect between subject and object.)

Other NYC dwellers such the cunning Sarah Jessica Parker, have some up with ways of making themselves less desirable targets:

“‘[SJP] wears the same thing everyday,’” he [Wagner] says. ‘On purpose. Because you talk about this today, then she wears it tomorrow, then what do you have to say? Nothing.’”

There is almost an element of protection there, too: provided both parties behave themselves and there exists a certain professional relationship, when your every move is recorded on camera, it’s got to be mighty hard to be mugged or attacked. Although, the victims of Alexis Neiers and her young-Hollywood burglary bling ring probably don’t subscribe to this school of thought.

Still, the opinion among the stars, the paps and the consumers who view their snaps on blogs and in magazines and newspapers, is that celebrities need the paparazzi to generate publicity around them, and the paps need to earn a buck. “An interdependency develops between them,” says Howe.

Stewart sums the cycle up nicely:

“We’re interested in celebrity minutiae. Despite ourselves. It is possible to be fascinated and repulsed at the same time. You can find celebrities appealing while finding the gossip culture appalling. We buy the magazines, hate them for lying to us, critique them, laugh at them, talk about them with our friends and buy the magazines again the next week. If you’ve ever read a gossip site or flipped through a celebrity weekly, you’re part of the system: the paparazzi take pictures for the mags and blogs, the mags and blogs exist because there is an audience.”

Related: Poor Little Rich Girl: Lindsay Lohan in Who.

Poor Little Rich Girl: Who Cover Girl Heidi Montag.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] The Day I Trailed a Paparazzo.

[Vanity Fair]: The Suspects Wore Louboutins.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Once upon a time, a disillusioned Los Angeles writer bemoaned the fact that when you start getting dermal fillers and can’t speak to someone else who hasn’t, “you realise there is actually something quite wrong with L.A… And then along comes Heidi Montag and you feel normal again.”:

“The amount of women, like Heidi, I see in Los Angeles walking around like blow up dolls, victims to the horrific mental disorder of body dysmorphiais huge. Body dysmorphia is as much a disease as anorexia, as bulimia, as over-eating, as alcoholism, drug addiction. These are mental disorders which manifest themselves in physical self-harm.”

Like the compulsion to have DDD size boobs implanted on your tiny, surgically-sculpted frame that cause you constant pain and prevent restful sleep and exercise.

Girl with a Satchel asks if new British magazine “…Just as Beautiful [is] Fetishising & Sexualising Fuller Female Figures?”

From “Gender is Not Just a Performance”:

“It is a crass oversimplification, as ridiculous as saying all gender is genitals, all gender is chromosomes, or all gender is socialisation. In reality, gender is all of these things and more.”

To celebrate No Make Up Week, Rachel Hills contemplates why we feel there’s something wrong with us if we don’t go around looking flawless at all times.

Still with Rachel Hills: her “Kanye West Syndrome” article, “I’mma Let You Finish…” and “Himglish & Femalese”, about how men are women are the same, but different, are stand-outs.

The New York Times, in an article from last year, ponders the vampire’s place in fashion.

In more vampire news, Billie Doux offers up Buffy Quotes for Every Occasion”, paying special attention to librarianship, in which these gems pop up: “I love the smell of desperate librarian in the morning,” and “I mean, I can’t believe you got into Oxford… That’s where they make Gileses”.

Gender blogger Greta Christina lists the “5 Stupid, Unfair & Sexist Things Expected of Men”, in which she states that “… sexism hurts men. In particular, … our society’s expectations of men, [and] our very definitions of maleness. I’ve been looking at how rigid and narrow many of these expectations are…”, such as “being tall”! Not much a man can do about his height… much like the stupid, unfair and sexist things expected of women.

We all know how much I love professional wrestler cum author cum sexual assault crusader, and finally, Jezebel has cottoned on to the awesomeness that is Mick Foley, even going as far as to say that “we need more men like him.” Amen to that. Also, check out his blog.

There’s a lot of debate over whether a straight man and a straight woman can be “just friends” (FYI, I believe they can), and this article favours the notion that having “Platonic Female Friendships Can Make For a Better Man”.

If my love for Beauty & the Beast (the DVD is currently out of the Disney vault on re-release; I have a birthday coming up…) is anything to go by, “Brunettes Love Beauty & the Beast”. As “princess hero”-affirming as that might be, the article ends on a negative note, saying that “a brunette [is] more prone to rational expectations of life and thus… the ‘We Love Belle’ fan-club must be an awfully boring place to be… Blondes: 1 Brunettes: 0”. Ouch.

ScreenCrave on why Twilight’s Bella Swan is a Feminist’s Nightmare”.

In the spirit of such Girls Night In staples as Mean Girls and Bring It On (more on my Girls Night In to come next week), Jezebel advocates for the “5 Life Lessons Learned from The Ladies of 00s Teen Films”.

In “Print This Out & Give it to Every Boy You Know”, Jezebel debunks the myths of the feminist. For example:

“[Myth:] Feminists are angry/predominantly lesbians/man-haters/all of the above… Some women are angry, yes. Some are lesbians. And some probably hate or fear men. Some women also identify as feminists. These characteristics exist independently of each other. If there’s overlap, it’s coincidental and correlated or causal…”

and

“Feminism has more flavours than Baskin-Robbins and a hundred and one areas of focus, covering everything from reproductive rights to international development to political reform or popular culture. Beyonce is a feminist and so is Hilary Clinton. And men can be feminists, too! It’s a big tent party, y’all! Heck, some women live their entire lives according to feminist principles, but never use the term.”

I would like to tell that to a certain “I hate feminism” espousing lady I know…

On the (Rest of the) Net: Short & Sweet Edition.

I’ve been a little too busy this week to do much blog reading but, alas, here are my picks of the week.

Can you like fashion and, like, be smart? That is the debate circulating around the blogosphere of late, and Jezebel sums up its instigation by Paper editor Kim Hastreiter and The New York Times: T editor Sally Singer. You can contribute to the discussion at fashademic (combining the words “fashion” and “academic” is so, like, smart!).

Mia Freedman imparts more of her wisdom, this time on the Stephanie Rice/Twitter incident. She writes: “I have long had a massive problem with the way we elevate sports stars to be heroes… But surely it’s time to stop raising these individuals to the heights of real heroes. Because surely when they disappoint us and show their ordinariness or, in some cases, their prejudices, it’s a very long way to fall.” Indeed.

The Onion has a satirical take on the “cult” (my emphasis) of New York City. In a faux-news story, in which the entire population of NYC stages a mass exodus, “at press time, some 10 million Los Angeles-area residents… had already begun repopulating the city.”

In the latest season of Jersey Shore, Sammi and Ronnie seem to break up and get back together at least once every episode (so what’s the difference between season one and season two, then?). In between that, Ronnie goes to the club, “creeps on girls”, gets wasted, and calls Sammi “a c*nt or a bitch directly to her face”. If they were your friends, what would you do?

“How to Get a Raise At Work? Clean Your Vagina.” The title says it all.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

In the vein of “What’s the use of being Supergirl if I can’t even get a date?”, comes the perils of being a 1940s boy in the dating world.

Feminist commentator Greta Christina muses on the appeal of Don Draper and the bad boy fantasy:

“Why are so many women hot for Don Draper? The lying, philandering, self-absorbed, work-obsessed, emotionally-warped, goes-through-mistresses-like-cigarettes, sexist prick of a lead character, Don Draper?” It’s because he “isn’t a standard bad boy… And look at his taste in women. Every woman Don cheats on his wife with is intelligent, independent, unconventional, and in some way defiant of gender roles… (In fact, I’m wondering now if part of the Don Draper fantasy has to do with wanting to be one of the strong, edgy, fascinating women he gets the hots for.)”

She then goes on to defend the bad boy fantasy: “… when women fantasise about bad boy rogues who treat women like dirt, the bad boys almost never treat us badly. They’re fascinated with us. They find us hauntingly compelling: so hauntingly compelling that, even though they usually use women and toss them aside, they somehow can’t tear themselves away from us… I think that’s something people forget about bad boy fantasies. Much of the time, they’re not about bad boys. They’re about bad boys going good because of us.”

“When did men in America go from being masculine steak-eating, plaid shirt wearing, Old Spice smelling, cigar smoking cowboys who like football, hunting and Clint Eastwood movies to skinny jean wearing, satchel carrying, pierced ear heterosexuals who like chick flicks, The View, and Bath & Bodyworks? The American man is an endangered species due in large part to the over-feminisation of society.” That’s right, blame it on the feminists!

Brush up on your Muppet who’s who with this Muppet Name Etymology chart.

Your permission slip from the universe allows you to walk out of movies that suck, quit your job, and fail, amongst many others.

The great Photoshop debate continues, with Jezebel’s article about Jennifer Aniston’s un-Photoshopped pictures, followed by Mia Freedman and Erica Bartle’s takes on the issue.

Gala Darling republished this fantastic response to a whale versus mermaid gym advertisement. Gorgeous!

Check out Nubby Twiglet’s quirky photo dairy of her trip to L.A. and Disneyland.

Anyone who watched The City or The Hills will remember People’s Revolution boss and mentor to Lauren and Whitney, Kelly Cutrone, and her hilariously truthful insights. Now, you can brush up on all your favourite Kelly quotes here. My favourites? “I don’t need to defend my company against a girl who wears pink!” and “You know where nice people end up? On welfare”, the latter of which I have used as a Facebook status!

TV: The Hills Finale—All Good Things Must Come to an End.

 

A lot of viewers might have argued that The Hills had passed its prime awhile ago, probably around the time its star, Lauren Conrad, bid farewell midway through season five.

While that may be somewhat true (personally, my favourite seasons were the second half of season three, and season four), The Hills has always been what it was intended to be; a guilty pleasure.

It was also one of the first shows to really catapult the “scripted reality” notion into the mainstream, in the footsteps of which so many others followed: The Real Housewives, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Girls of the Playboy Mansion and pretty much every other MTV show since The Hills’ debut (bar Jersey Shore, which Perez Hilton, in last week’s column for Famous, called “raw [and] real”the antithesis of The Hills).

But the buzz has been around the show’s final episode, which aired two weeks ago in the US, and which Australia is still waiting for.

After so much criticism of the action on the show being fake vs. real, with scenes being shot several times for the best angles (both camera- and storyline-wise) and “cut up to death”, the producers and writers (?) decided to capitalise on that allure.

SPOILER ALERT: The final scene sees Kristin Cavallari and Stacie Hall packing the rest of Kristin’s things into a waiting car, as she’s moving to Europe (E! television personality Joel McHale of The Soup hilariously noted that Europe is a continent, not a country, and Kristin never once mentioned where in Europe she was going!), to “find myself” and “figure out what I want”. Brody Jenner is waiting by the car to say a final goodbye to Kristin, who told Brody she loved him but was knocked back. He says he would have got together with her if he knew she would move away when he rejected her. Kristin says “that’s all I’ve ever wanted to hear”, but she’s still going. They hug, kiss, cry, and the car drives away with Kristin inside, leaving Brody brooding beneath the Hollywood sign.

As the camera pans out, the Hollywood sign starts moving, and it is revealed that Brody is standing on a film lot. Kristin runs from the car as the director yells “cut!”, embracing Brody as the two are congratulated by the crew for wrapping the last scene. END SPOILER ALERT.

Confusing, much?!

While The Hills season final may not get as much publicity and/or examination as, say, The Sopranos or LOST, it is a clever poke at the media and Hollywood. Brody said:

“I think the show has always battled with what’s real and what’s fake, and this ending was perfect because you still don’t know what was real, what was fake and it’s kind of like LA in a sense.”

Oh, how poignant!

There are still a lot of loose ends that fans are left hanging with, though, and I guess that’s the dilemma of having a “reality” show that is based on the real lives of its stars, but it scripted to within an inch of its life, and some of its stars (ie. Speidi) can’t reconcile those difference.

I would like to know what happened with Heidi and Spencer, and if they ever reconciled with Holly, Heidi’s sister, and their mother, Darlene. And if Audrina finds what she’s looking for by moving out of Hollywood. Ditto Kristin in Europe.

But I guess we will find these things out in Heidi’s new reality show with The Hills alum Jen Bunney, and Audrina’s rumoured show, The Audrina Patridge Show.

Until then, there’s always the tabloids.

Related: The Hills Have (Dead) Eyes.

Elsewhere: [MTV] Brody Jenner Reveals Alternate Hills Ending with Lauren Conrad.