On the (Rest of the) Net.

Should feminists support Julia Gillard just because she’s a female Prime Minister? [Daily Life]

Where does your slut-barometre sit? [TheVine]

The Triple J Hottest 100 countdown was a total sausagefest. [Karen Pickering] 

“Who exactly reads Playgirl, anyway?” (SFW) [The Atlantic] 

Is Paris Hilton relevant again? [The Daily Beast] 

Is Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In a modern day Feminine Mystique? [Ms. Magazine] 

On the (Rest of the) Net.

beyonce superbowl

What was so great about Beyonce’s SuperBowl performance, anyway? In fact, the article could be titled, “What’s so good about Beyonce, period?” Don’t get me wrong, she’s an incredible performer with an amazing voice and I love pretty well all of her songs, but she does push a pretty conservative message (“Independent Women” really just want to “Cater 2 U” and “Put a Ring On It”) and is blandly uncontroversial. Her most scandalous moments are the rumoured fake baby bump and lip synching at the Inauguration. What do you think? Is Beyonce a positive black female role model, another pop star pandering to the patriarchy or do you just not care that much about her? [TheVine]

A 5-year-old girl was caught with her mouth on a 5-year-old boy’s penis: cue outrage. This article brilliantly highlights the importance of letting kids be kids, and that sometimes means “playing doctor”, playing “the sex game” and mucking around pretending to be “sexy” and “do sex” when they have no idea what those words mean.

“Kids aren’t gonna stop rubbing themselves, each other, and tetherball poles, so what’s the point of making it a scary, bad thing? Besides, this isn’t really about sex, so let’s not make it about sex. It’s learning about our bodies and the bodies of other kids, and doing things that feel good.

“You have to wonder how a big hubbub over truly normal shit can affect a kid in the long run. Will they eventually develop a sex-negative attitude? Will developing a happy, healthy sexuality be more difficult for them? As many of us know, childhood scars run deep.” [Jezebel]

Iron Man 3 is just the latest in a long line of films (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Last Airbender, The Lone Ranger, and Snow White & the Huntsman when it comes to able-bodied actors playing the seven dwarves) to use a white actor portraying a character of colour. [Kotaku]

In a similar vein, whitewashing non-white stories in Hollywood. [Daily Life]

The conundrum of being sexy but not sexual in the Japanese pop world. [Daily Life]

Reexamining Paris Hilton as a cultural icon. [Thought Catalog]

In praise of Liz Lemon. [Jezebel]

Image via Buzzfeed.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Ashley Judd slaps down body- (and face-) shamers. [Daily Beast]

A fictional tale (though a very realistic one) of what it’s like to promise your purity to your dad. [Jezebel]

So Tony Abbott’s sister is gay. Now what? [MamaMia]

Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton et al: don’t hate the player, hate the game. [Daily Life]

Republicans aren’t the only ones making jokes at the ladies’ expense. Obama does it too :( [Jezebel]

The Hunger Games killed it at the box office because Katniss Everdeen was portrayed as a subject as opposed to a “Fighting Fuck Toy”. [Ms. Magazine]

Following on from last week’s Rachel Hills asexuality article, Rachel Rabbit White on “graysexuality”:

“… ‘But sex itself is just a set of physical activities, it’s easy to imagine someone who’s not into them once you take all the symbolism away.’

“Sex positivity works to broaden our understanding of what sex is (e.g., not just penis in vagina, but body part + body part = pleasure). But what if we also set out to broaden our understanding of intimacy—intimacy is not just sex, but also…—perhaps a new picture would unfold. One where people realize they don’t need to have sex when what they want is intimacy. One where, maybe, there would be a little more gray in our sex-drives.” [Jezebel]

An interesting take on all the Snow White reboots. [io9]

What it’s like to be a guy who reads (or read) Judy Blume. [Jezebel]

Women don’t hate other women for being beautiful. They hate them for having delusions of grandeur, like Samantha Brick. [MamaMia]

Mia Freedman interviews Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg about Matthew Newton. Carr-Gregg seems to think we need to reexamine our views around mental illness and give Newton a fair go. Um, the kid’s been charged three times in the past year and beats up people on a regular basis. I’d say he’s been more than given a fair go. What do you think? [MamaMia]

Image via MSNBC.

Movie Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes*.

 

Proposition me with a trip to the movies to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes and, ordinarily, I wouldn’t be interested. Sci-fi, James Franco… not a fan of either.

But show me the trailer, with a heavy focus on the humanity of apes and how they’re  “just like us!” and hella yeah, I’m down to see it.

The film begins with James Franco as a scientist, who has been working on an anti-Alzheimer’s drug by injecting it into apes to see if their brains can repair themselves. Not only does the drug A-1-12 do this, it also creates new pathways in the brain, which means the recipient knows and can do things they couldn’t before.

Bright Eyes, the ape who produced such results, goes ape-shit, so to speak, and is put down. What was thought to be the drug’s fault is attributed to Bright Eyes’ unknown pregnancy and birth, and “she was just being protective” of the baby ape hidden in her enclosure.

The experiment is shut down and Franco’s character, Will Rodman, sees no option but to take the baby ape home to the San Francisco house he shares with his Alzheimer’s-inflicted father, Charles, played by John Lithgow.

Fast forward three years and Caesar, whom they’ve named the now-super ape, has had the A-1-12 transferred to him at birth, it is discovered. He has his own play area in the attic, and he gazes down at the human world below him, aching to experience life outside the confines of the Rodman home.

During this time, Will steals some vials of the A-1-12 drug and secretly gives them to the ailing Charles. The results are overnight and miraculous. With the introduction of Freida Pinto’s veterinarian Caroline, who barely has five lines in the movie and is literally the only female character, bar Bright Eyes who is killed off in the first five minutes to further the story for the male characters, it’s all one big happy family.

Five years later, Will is struggling to care for his dad, whose body has developed immunity to A-1-12, and to wrangle the increasingly smart, inquisitive, lonely and strong Caesar, who attacks a neighbour for roughing up Charles when he tries to drive away in his luxury car in a dementia-induced stupor.

Will is forced to send Caesar away, to a primate enclosure in the city. Unbeknownst to Will, Caesar and the other apes are treated like crap by the attendants, who are the first victims when the apes stage a revolution.

Each time Will and Caroline come to visit Caesar, he gradually wants nothing to do with them. He begrudges Will for abandoning him and allowing him to be treated “like an animal”.

This notion is really at the crux of the film. We treat animals like beings less than ourselves, even though we know more than ever about their thinking and feeling capacities, and we will live to suffer the consequences.

There are consequences when we treat them too much like humans, too. (Paging Paris Hilton.) We can see that when Caesar leads the motley crew of apes freed from “sanctuaries”, like the one Caesar and the other apes escape from, laboratories and the zoo, and when he tells (yes, apes can speak now. The miracle of A-1-12.) Will he’s “home” with his own species.

This is after the climactic Golden Gate Bridge fight scene, where man versus ape in an overwhelming victory for the latter. This scene perfectly illustrates the “pack mentality” we accuse sports stars of, and is illustrated by the London riots and the gang-rape of Lara Logan.

Other subtle and not-so-subtle metaphors in the film include the dichotomy of war, racism, prison, how we treat refugees, how we treat those we don’t understand, testing on animals (which, in this film, is null and void: Franklin, a lab technician who dies towards the end of the film after being exposed to the virus strain of A-1-12, A-1-13, proving it may work on apes, but it certainly doesn’t on humans) and, of course, the aforementioned way we treat animals.

I’m a sucker for an animal movie, and cried pretty much through the whole thing! And these “animals” weren’t even real! But, in retrospect, the flawless special effects and underlying meaning weren’t enough to save the dismal character development and non-ape related storyline. Pretty much all the characters were interchangeable.

I’m not a big fan of James Franco, and in this movie he didn’t annoy me with his James Franco-ness but, having said that, I would rather that than a repeat of his Oscars coast-through, which his performance in Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a mirror image of.

In terms of Pinto being the only woman in the movie, perhaps her no-character Caroline could have been spared in favour of one other female character with a bit of substance, a backstory, and a driving force in the storyline: mother Charlotte instead of father Charles.

But really, this reasoning is clutching at straws, as Rise of the Planet of the Apes is really all about the… erm… apes. Humans are merely transposable caricatures.

*It has come to my attention that I give away too much in my movie reviews, so the asterisk will now serve as a blanket *spoiler alert* from now on.

Related: Time’s “What Animals Think” August 16, 2010 Review.

Asylum Seekers: Have a Little Compassion.

Image via IMDb.

 

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.”

Body Image: Brown Eyed Girl.

A few weeks ago, just after I’d watched the “Born This Way” episode of Glee, I served two Asian girls at work.

It was hard to see their eyes properly, as they had a lot of eye makeup on and their fringes were tickling their lashes, but I was pretty sure they had blue—or Elizabeth Taylor violet—contacts in.

It reminded me of Tina Cohen-Chang’s “Brown Eyes” t-shirt from the New Directions’ performance of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”, as part of the 90-minute after-school special on acceptance. In the episode, Tina hates her brown eyes, so takes to wearing blue contact lenses to appear less “Asian”. (Can you really blame her, when her only real characteristic on the show is her Asianess? And her boyfriend, Mike Chang’s, Asianess. For that matter, there are other Asian surnames than just Chang, Ryan Murphy!)

I wasn’t sure if this was an actual phenomenon outside of the pop culture world, but given the propensity of Western, Barbie-esque images to infiltrate other cultures, especially Asian ones, it doesn’t surprise me that blue eyes are all the rage.

As a brown-haired, brown-eyed girl myself, I love my features. But as a child, having both a mother and sister with blonde hair and blue eyes, I did feel like a bit of a black brown sheep until the age of about 10 or 11.

Apparently, even Paris Hilton wears blue contacts to mask her naturally brown peepers.

What do you think? Would you wear coloured contacts to change the shade of your eyes? And have you ever seen any Asian girls wearing obvious contact lenses?

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Born This Way” Episode.

Image via The Daily Mail.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

It’s a smorgasbord of Katy, Ke$ha, Britney and Gaga as Complex counts down “The 25 Greatest ‘Slutwave’ Songs of All Time”.

In other Katy and Ke$ha-related news, Feminist Music Geek critiques their acts.

Finally, closing off a Katy Perry heavy week, Jezebel ponders the similarities between “Firework” and Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful”.

Sady Doyle on Charlie Chaplin’s paedophilia on film:

“I… kind of forgot, actually, that Charlie Chaplin was a pedophile?… Boy howdy, this movie sure didn’t!… It invites you to get off on this… We got a scene where the FBI tried to go after Chaplin for his dangerous left-wing activities, BY PERSUING STATUATORY RAPE CHARGES AGAINST HIM. “It’ll ruin him,” the evil right wing poo-hating US government cackles.”

Hmm… strangely echoes a certain left-winger accused of rape in the media at the moment…

Hermione Granger perfects her “judgemental badger” face.

“Empty Bellies Do Not Beget Genius”.

Now this is how “self-marriage” is done. Glee, take note.

Following on from last week, “Is Lara Bingle the new Paris Hilton?”

Is the antidote to “Taylor Swift’s Endless Reign” a Lindsay Lohan singing career revival?

Coco Rocha reveals “The One That Got Away”.

Gala Darling detoxes her closet.

MamaMia asks, “Do You Have Mother Issues?” Oh hell yes! And daddy ones, too!

More on why Gwyneth Paltrow is just that damn unlikeable.

JWoww’s heinous ex calls her pre-surgery body “deformed” by cellulite. Nice.

2010 was the year of the mistress.

In defence of May-December romances.

What does your ponytail say about you?

Jennifer Hawkins VS. Miranda Kerr.

Following on from last week’s post reflecting on Jennifer Hawkins’ nude cover for Marie Claire, I started thinking about the flak Hawkins received for it.

Why was Hawkins vilified for daring to bare her unairbrushed body, knowing full well the potential criticisms that could come with it? Just because she’s a hot model doesn’t make her any less qualified to comment on the body image debate.

Another prominent Australian model who gets her kit off, but at a far more frequent rate than Hawkins, is David Jones ambassador Miranda Kerr.

While Hawkins’ employer Myer may have come out on top in the wake of the David Jones sexual harassment case, Kerr seems to be the model who came out on top, continuing to bare her baby belly in all the publications.

Demi Moore, Christina Aguilera et al. have proved that the pregnant female is a creature of beauty; one that should be celebrated on all the glossies. The same is true for Kerr, whose bump has spent a great deal of time in the limelight: she announced her pregnancy in Spanish Vogue in September, paraded down the Balenciaga runway at five months along, and was the first pregnant cover model for Vogue Australia. In addition, she shunned Demi and Christina’s cover-ups and went completely starkers for W’s December issue.

Frankly, I’m a bit sick of Kerr, her baby bump and her bits. It seems you can’t open a magazine or blog post without seeing her naked body plastered all over it, even before she got knocked up. Sure, she’s nice to look at, but if you’ve seen her once, you’ve seen her a million times.

So why is it that Kerr can get her kit off every second week and be celebrated for it, while Jennifer Hawkins, who posed for Marie Claire for charity, and whose private bits we are yet to see, was chastised and her star somewhat faded since the incident?

Can someone answer that for me?

Related: One Year On: The Jennifer Hawkins/Marie Claire Scandal.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“Christina Aguilera: Always the Second Fiddle.”

I don’t believe in New Years resolutions anymore, namely because I could never realise mine. But I like Rachel Hills’ idea of writing an obituary for the year passed. In this case, her 2008 in review.

HuffPo on the absence of modern technology in modern literature:

“The average fictional character is either so thoroughly disinterested in email, social media, and text messages he never thinks of it, or else hastily mentions electronic communications in the past tense. Sure, characters in fiction may own smart phones, but few have the urge to compulsively play with the device while waiting to meet a friend or catch a flight. This ever-present anachronism has made it so that almost all literary fiction is science fiction, a thought experiment as to what life might be like if we weren’t so absorbed in our iPhones but instead watched and listened to the world around us at a moment’s rest.”

Girl with a Satchel ponders the price of a pretty picture.

“Caring for Your Introvert” is one of the best articles I’ve read all year (and considering it was written in 2003, that’s saying something). Here, an excerpt:

“With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. ‘People person’ is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like ‘guarded’, ‘loner’, ‘reserved’, ‘taciturn’, ‘self-contained’, ‘private’—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty.

“The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts’ Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say ‘I’m an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush.’”

Furthermore, The Los Angeles Times notes that despite the introverted minority, television doesn’t reflect their existence very well. (Does television reflect anything very well?):

“Watch Seinfeld or Friends or Sex & the City or Community or Men of a Certain Age—the list is endless—and you’ll see people who not only are never ever alone but people whose relationships are basically smooth, painless, uninhibited and deeply, deeply intimate—the kind of friendships we may have had in college but that most of us can only dream about now. How many adults do you know who manage to hang out with their friends every single day for hour after hour?”

On that, Gossip Girl is notorious for misrepresenting reality. While she knows I love her, GG often makes me feel guilty about the clothes I’m not wearing, the sex I’m not having, and the events I’m not going to. Apparently, it’s not true to the books, either.

Check out The Washington City Paper for their musings on masculinity over the past decade, with a special focus on boy bands, metrosexuals, hipsters and guidos, à la Jersey Shore.

Gwyneth Paltrow: You either love her or hate her. I hated her with a passion until I saw her on Glee, in which she came across as carefree, cool and sexy and made her a tiny bit more relatable to the general populus who don’t subscribe to her Goop musings. Mia Freedman writes hilariously on this conundrum, with a focus on a related article from Salon.

Also at MamaMia, “17 Arguments Against Gay MarriageAnd Why They’re Bullocks” is brilliant.

Tangled will be the last fairytale Disney releases in a while.

Can you still be a feminist and dress in a bra top? (Of course you can; stay tuned for more on this next week.) Or espouse archaic notions of heterosexual relations, for that matter?

“The Ongoing, Albeit Amusing, Battle to Save Bristol” on Dancing with the Stars:

“‘This seems like a case of the rich, popular cheerleaders looking like they’ve sucked on a lemon when they learn that the poor girl in school, the one in the home-made clothes and religious family, gets elected Prom Queen.’

“I’ve rarely seen such a clean-cut example of the conservative tendency to say up is down and black is white. Or, more precisely, to bemoan how oppressed white, rich, and highly privileged people are.

“… But Bristol Palin hasn’t really done squat. She is literally famous for having a baby at an inopportune time. And now she continues to get promoted over more talented people than her because she was born into the right family… Bristol Palin is a hero to wingnut America because she’s a great example of rewarding someone for being born into privilege instead of on their merits.

“… I just find it extremely funny that the wingnutteria is backing someone with no talent on a show with no real importance to stick it to liberals who by and large don’t really care, and they’re doing so because they’re intoxicated by privilege and kind of wish they had a monarchy, but they’re pretending that they’re doing it because they want to see the oppressed rise above. I suppose after Dancing with the Stars is done, they should start sticking it to the liberals by defending poor, oppressed Paris Hilton, who is definitely the weird girl with handmade clothes that is picked on by cheerleaders.”

Mel Gibson and the curse of the “Sexiest Man Alive” tag.

On Stieg Larsson and the “disturbing”, “torturous” patriarchy of his Millennium trilogy.

Women are funny, too.

Good-Time Girls.

 

From “Party & Punishment”, published in The New York Times Magazine, 22nd October, by Virginia Heffernan.

“Right after 9/11, Muslim regimes were depicted as tyrannical in part because they demonised Western fun-loving culture in the name of a misogynistic ideology. Slowly but surely we’ve been doing the same thing with our most visible good-time girls, making villains of women who are dangerous almost exclusively to themselves. We point cameras into their darkened cars and literally up their skirts to find cellulite or evidence of immodesty that wouldn’t exist without the cameras. When they start drinking and doing drugs, just as many celebrities before them have done, we become incensed, agitating for them to go to jail.”

Heffernan’s contention rings true when it comes to Lindsay Lohan, who has been to jail four times (two in quick succession in recent months), rehab on five (or is that six?) occasions, and demonised in the media countless more. But do we demand the same of drug-addled famous men who are a danger to others, ie Charlie Sheen? For what he’s done to the women in his life, not to mention himself, perhaps it is time for Sheen to see the inside of a prison cell. Or at the very least, be taken off the show on which he earns the highest salary on television until he gets his shit together.

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

Why Are Famous Men Forgiven for Their Wrongdoings, While Women Are Vilified for Much Less?

Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do? Host a Seven Family Show.

Lindsay Lohan: Marilyn, Eat Your Heart Out.

Ex-Factor: Matthew Newton.

Elsewhere: [The New York Times Magazine] Party & Punishment.