On the (Rest of the) Net.

The latest Teen Vogue with Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale on the cover worryingly espouses using dieting to achieve “Your Best Body”.

Minnie Mouse meets beatnik meets Gala Darling is the latest “blog girl” trend.

A superb 2004 Andrew Denton interview with media darling/mogul Ita Buttrose.

Charlie Glickman on the perils of alternative male and female sexuality.

Pop music=guilty pleasure no more. (However, stay tuned next week for an alternative view on this subject.)

Girl with a Satchel laments the unattractive “View from the Glossip Stand” in Zoo’s UnAustralians of the Year feature.

“Stereotyping is a fun and useful tool… to categorise interests and make harmful blanket statements” about your favourite magazines. For example, Lula is for those who “never spend money on U.S. fashion magazines because they just don’t ‘get it’; they’re so dull”, while Details has “a strong Patrick Bateman vibe”.

More on Gwyneth Paltrow’s unlikability, this time from New York Magazine:

“Gwyneth is also kind of a jerk. Her perfection is judgment on the rest of us, and she makes this known in interviews and on her lifestyle website, Goop, the tone of which suggests a domestic personality just one degree shy of Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest.”

The Freudian nature of the vampire.

How women are reclaiming “bitch” as their own.

New research indicates that women’s bodies may protect themselves from rape. And so opens a whole other can of consent worms…

“Are Music Video Girls Exploited?”

This article puts to the rest the “you can’t be both beautiful and smart” way of thinking.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Rachel Hills discusses Naomi Wolf’s response to WikiGate here, whilst also doing a fine job of unpacking the fun for twenty-somethings = lots of casual sex myth.

On that, “How to Be A 20-Something”:

“Be really attractive. Your acne is gone, your face has matured without having wrinkles and everything on your body is lifted naturally. Eat bagels seven days a week, binge-drink and do drugs: you’ll still look like a babe. When you turn thirty, it’ll become a different story but that’s, like, not for a really long time.

“Reestablish a relationship with your parents. You don’t live with them anymore (hopefully) so start to appreciate them as human beings with thoughts, flaws and feelings rather than soulless life ruiners who won’t let you borrow their car.”

What Would Phoebe Do? on the pretentiousness of Francophilia:

“Gratuitously adding French words to conversation is a time-honoured way of signalling pretentiousness.”

Next year’s Halloween costume sorted!

“How to Be A Complete Douche” has a certain Patrick Bateman feel to it.

Hugh Hefner defends his May-December engagement to Crystal Harris to The Daily Beast.

“How to Live in New York City”:

“Certain moments of living in the city will always stick out to you. Buying plums from a fruit vendor on 34th street and eating three of them on a long walk, the day you spent in bed with your best friend watching Tyra Banks, the amazing rooftop party you attended on a sweltering hot day in July. These memories might seem insignificant but they were all moments when you looked around the city and felt like you were a part of it all.”

Sarah at Feministe recalls “How I Learned to Stop Caring and Admit I Love Pop”.

Jezebel chronicles “The Evolution of Moms” from Soccer Mom (Mater Adidas) to a future robot-mom who encompasses all the admirable features of stage and helicopter mothers alike, with a special focus on the parent Sarah Palin made famous, the Mama Grizzly.

Memo to Lady Gaga: leggings are not pants. Nor, more to the point, are leotards.

Loving… The Awesomeness That is James Van Der Beek.

As Dawson Leery on late ’90s teen angst television staple, Dawson’s Creek, James Van Der Beek was a whiny pushover who always lost the girl to the sexy and witty and aptly-named Pacey Witter. With the exception of getting drunk and singing the blues with Andy on his birthday, Dawson’s Creek perhaps would’ve been better without its titular character.

Van Der Beek hasn’t done a whole lot since Dawson’s Creek ended in 2003, but what he has done has been a far more apt use of his acting talents.

I recently watched the movie adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s Rules of Attraction, in which Van Der Beek plays Sean Bateman, American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman’s little brother. While the film, like the book, is quite left of centre and something not everyone is likely to have seen, Van Der Beek is chilling as a narcissistic, drug-taking/dealing, death-faking rich college boy, alongside Ian Somerhalder in a similarly affecting performance.

And anyone who watches Criminal Minds would be hard pressed to forget the formerly innocent Dawson as Tobias Hankel, the serial killer who was so damaged by his abusive father, that he took on said father’s demeanour in order to carry out his killings. In addition, he injected everyone’s favourite agent, Spencer Reid, with heroin, causing Reid to struggle with his newfound addiction in later episodes.

Angus, Van Der Beek’s debut film role in 1995, is a much lauded cult teen movie in which he plays the popular jock to Angus’s overweight outcast. I haven’t seen the film personally (I plan to watch it during my convalescence from wisdom teeth surgery at the end of the week), Jezebel seems to like it, and that’s good enough for me!

Van Der Beek is not unfamiliar to parodying himself, either, with cameos in Scary Movie and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back (worst movie ever, but the running Ben Affleck joke is a cracker!), and comedic turns in Ugly Betty and How I Met Your Mother.

If you’re indifferent to James Van Der Beek, like I was until I really paid attention to his acting life after Dawson’s Creek, I suggest you take a look at his post-Dawson’s résumé to truly understand the awesomeness that is Van Der Beek.

Newspaper Clipping of LAST Week.

So I’ve been a bit behind the eight ball this week, what with moving to my new digs in Richmond and all. But I thought the time had come to stop staring out the window at my fabulous view of the city and catch up on some work.

This last week’s newspaper clipping comes from Sarah Wilson’s Sunday Life column. In it, she discusses the perils of sitting down with a good book and actually reading it, as opposed to skimming, which the internet has taught us, what with emails, blogs and the infinite amount of useless information out in cyberspace.

In the vein of “slow cooking”, “slow reading” doesn’t involve “reading words at a snail’s pace with a ruler”, but “reading fully… and allowing time for dissecting arguments and reflective response”.

This is something I sometimes struggle with, as I feel there is just so much knowledge to be absorbed, and I’m never going to take it all in. Recently, I had so much on my mind (read: moving house) I managed to read the whole of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest without actually comprehending any of it. Dismal review pending.

In other clippings news, I loved The Age’s resident “Bookmarks”compiler Jason Steger’s take on Bret Easton Ellis’ talk in Melbourne recently. Instead of asking about the “inspiration” behind is disturbed characters, which he famously prefers not to divulge, audience members asked such off-beat questions as, “Who… would win in a tag team wrestling match between Christian Bale and Patrick… Bateman [of American Psycho] and Ellis and James van der Beek, the actor who played Patrick’s brother in the film of Ellis’ novel, The Rules of Attraction.”

No wonder tickets sold out in seven minutes!

Book Review: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.

 

When I heard Bret Easton Ellis was coming to Melbourne for the Writers Festival, I was intrigued to hear him speak in person, to say the least.

My first, and only, exposure to Easton Ellis prior to reading American Psycho was his 1998 release, Glamorama. I had high expectations for that book, and I was sorely disappointed. I found it too fast paced and celebrity-obsessed which, granted, was the point of the story. However, the graphic depictions of violence (a plane crash with flying pieces of sheet metal decapitating whole rows of passengers, anyone? Or how about a massive miscarriage followed by internal haemorrhaging and subsequent death of the main character’s, Victor Ward, girlfriend?) and sex were far too much.

So needless to say, I was very apprehensive about entering into a literary relationship with American Psycho, but I wanted to at least have read Easton Ellis’ most famous work before seeing him live. (Alas, this is not meant to be, as tickets to his talk sold out within minutes of going on sale! As he, and Buffy creator Joss Whedon, whose talk also sold out, are the only writers I’m interested in seeing at this years surprisingly uninspiring Melbourne Writers Festival, I guess I’ll be giving it a miss this year.)

This time around, however, I was pleasantly surprised.

Again, American Psycho is hard to get into initially, as it jumps straight into a boys night out with protagonist Patrick Bateman and his equally materialistic and über-boring posse of yuppie acquaintances (Bateman is too narcissistic to have actual “friends”). But after persevering up to the first kill, I liked what I read.

Even squirming along Struggle Street during the gory descriptions of the murderson public transport, no less!was still a fairly enjoyable literary journey. To give you a taste of just how well Easton Ellis does horrific homicide in print, here’s a description of Bateman’s first kill:

“… I reach out and touch his [the bum’s] face gently once more with compassion and whisper, “Do you know what a fucking loser you are?” He starts nodding helplessly and I pull out a long, thin knife with a serrated edge and , being very careful not to kill him, push maybe half an inch of the blade into his right eye, flicking the handle up, instantly popping the retina.

“The bum is too surprised to say anything. He only opens his mouth in shock and moves a grubby, mittened hand slowly up to his face. I yank his pants down and in the passing headlights of a taxi can make out his flabby black thighs, rashed because of his constantly urinating in the pantsuit. The stench of shit rises quickly into my face and breathing through my mouth, down on my haunches, I start stabbing him in the stomach, lightly, above the dense matted patch of pubic hair. This sobers him up somewhat and instinctively he tries to cover himself with his hands and the dog starts yipping, really furiously, but it doesn’t attack, and I keep stabbing at the bum now between his fingers, stabbing the backs of his hands. His eye, burst open, hangs out of its socket and runs down his face and he keeps blinking which causes what’s left of it inside the wound to pour out like red, veiny egg yolk. I grab his head with one hand and push it back and then with my thumb and forefinger hold the other eye open and bring the knife up and push the tip of it into the socket, first breaking its protective film so the socket fills with blood, then slitting the eyeball open sideways, and he finally starts screaming once I slit his nose in two, lightly spraying me and the dog with blood, Gizmo blinking to get the blood out of his eyes. I quickly wipe the blade clean across the bum’s face, breaking open the muscle above his cheek. Still kneeling, I throw a quarter in his face, which is slick and shiny with blood, both sockets hollowed out and filled with gore, what’s left of his eye literally oozing over his screaming lips in thick, webby strands. Calmly, I whisper, “There’s a quarter. Go buy some gum, you crazy fucking nigger.” Then I turn to the barking dog and when I get up, stomp on its front legs while it’s crouched down ready to jump at me, its fangs bared, immediately shattering the bones in both its legs, and it falls on its side squealing in pain, front paws sticking up in the air at an obscene, satisfying angle. I can’t help but start laughing and I linger at the scene, amused by this tableau. When I spot an approaching taxi, I slowly walk away.”

Now if that didn’t make you wince and writhe vicariously, there’s also the attacks of several other dogs, the tortures of countless prostitutes, the dissolving of several friends’ bodies in lime, cannibalism, the murder of a child, the capture of a sewer rat to use in later tortures, and in a comical scene that illustrates just how sad and detached Bateman has become in his life of depravity, he feeds his girlfriend (just one of many he has on the go at any given time) a frozen urinal cake coated in chocolate and served in a decadent Godiva chocolate box.

If the reader needs more proof of Bateman’s derangement and obsessive compulsive consumerism, they need only to look at the chapters interspersed throughout the narrative on business cards, sound systems and musical artists of the time (1991), like Genesis, Whitney Houston and Huey Lewis & the News.

Here is another example:

“Another choir, on Lexington, sings ‘Hark the Herald Angels’ and I tap-dance, moaning, in front of them before I move like a zombie to Bloomingdale’s, where I rush over to the first tie rack I see and murmur to the young faggot working behind the counter, “Too, too fabulous,” while fondling a silk ascot. He flirts and asks if I’m a model. “I’ll see you in hell,” I tell him, and move on.

“… vases and felt fedoras with feather headbands and alligator toiletry cases with gilt-silver bottles and brushes and shoehorns that cost two hundred dollars and candlesticks and pillow covers and gloves and slippers and powder puffs and hand-knitted cotton snowflake sweaters and leather skates and Porsche-design ski goggles and antique apothecary bottles and diamond earrings and silk ties and boots and perfume bottles and diamond earrings and boots and vodka glasses and card cases and cameras and mahogany servers and scarves and aftershaves and photo albums and salt and pepper shakers and ceramic-toaster cookie jars and two-hundred-dollar shoehorns and backpacks and aluminium lunch pails and pillow covers…

“Some kind of existential chasm opens up before me while I’m browsing in Bloomingdale’s and causes me to first locate a phone and check my messages, then, near tears, after taking three Halcion (since my body has mutated and adapted to the drug it no longer causes sleepit just seems to ward off total madness), I head toward the Clinique counter where with my platinum American Express card I buy six tubes of shaving cream…”

This kind of stream-of-consciousness and disjointed conflict between the Patrick Bateman that is presented to the outside worldthe one that manages to convince a cop investigating the murder of one of Bateman’s lime victims that he has nothing to do with the disappearanceand the inner workings of his own mind, and even again with the superhuman he becomes when killing, continues and only becomes more frequent as the tale continues.

While there is no finite conclusion to the storyone might guess that Bateman was caught during the murder of a taxi driver, when the tone switches from first person to third person, however it is later revealed that he escaped, but is recognised by another cab driverthat only makes it all the more disturbing.

Easton Ellis is a very cleverthough slightly disturbed; you would have to be to write as graphically and as convincingly as he doesauthor, and I would have loved to hear him speak about his most prolific work.

However, while I rate this one highly, I probably won’t return to, nor enjoy, his other novels.