On the (Rest of the) Net.

Cory-Monteith

Where does Glee go next after the tragic death of Cory Monteith over the weekend? [Vulture]

Furthermore, Monteith as Finn Hudson embodied the fear of failure and being stuck in a small town with little to no prospects. Drawing on his real-life experiences, perhaps? [The Atlantic]

Got daddy issues? The ultimate TV father/lovers. [Daily Life]

I went to a Lady Gaga variety fundraising night and wrote about it for TheatrePress.

Is news bad for us? It is if it comes from The Daily Mail. [Daily Life]

Homosexuality in hip hop. [The Guardian]

An advertising agency liaising with the Prime Minister’s Office and hip, young media brands, such as TheVine, offered an interview with the PM in exchange for free pro-Labor advertising. [SMH]

Pacific Rim—the latest in a depressingly long line of films—fails the Bechdel test, hard. [Vulture]

The Pixar Theory: why Brave, Toy Story, Monsters Inc. et al are all linked together as part of the same story as opposed to different ones. The mind boggles. [Jon Negroni]

The underlying religious messages in Man of Steel. [EW Pop Watch]

Oh, goody! I’ve always wanted a system to chart how slutty I am. Gives a whole new meaning to the “slut barometre” Alyx Gorman discussed on TheVine a few weeks ago. [Slut Formula]

Why paedophiles Peter Truong and Mark Newton give same-sex parents a bad name. [ABC The Drum]

Image via Mirror.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

“What It’s Really Like to Wear a Hijab.” [Daily Life]

While the mainstream media is not always the most tasteful industry, its coverage of Jill Meagher’s disappearance was invaluable in helping catch her killer. [MamaMia]

And here’s an amusing take on the sexist comments thrown women’s way after the Jill Meagher tragedy. I’ve been experiencing some of these “restrictions” myself since then, preached to me by well-intentioned but misguided friends, which I’ll be writing more about next week. [Feminaust]

Why fur is back in fashion. [Jezebel]

Instead of petitioning the fashion magazines, should we be making love instead of porn? [TheVine]

The perils of getting a hair cut as a black woman. [Jezebel]

Two of my favourite writers and unofficial mentors, I guess you could say, are in the midst of writing books. Rachel Hills and Sarah Ayoub-Christie detail their struggles with the process. Keep ya heads up, girls! [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, Chasing Aphrodite]

“Reverse Photoshopping” a “too thin” Karlie Kloss isn’t any better than Photoshopping away cellulite or blemishes. [Daily Life]

Famous writers throughout history reimagine Cosmo’s sex tips. [McSweeney’s]

Why are all the feminists these days funny? Um, because we wised up to the fact that our ideals are better digested by the mainstream through less-threatening humour than shoving it down unwilling throats. Though we still do a lot of that!

“[Sexism’s] existence at the moment requires a tougher, wilier, more knowing, and sophisticated stance.” [Slate]

Clementine Ford’s full Wheeler Centre Lunchbox/Soapbox address on the equality myth.

Incorporating part of her speech, Ford elaborates on Alan Jones’ misogynistic comments about the Prime Minister and women in general. [Daily Life]

On the male-male-female threesome. [XOJane]

Why isn’t Mitt Romney being questioned about the way Mormonism treats women? [Daily Beast]

TV: Feminism, Barbeque & Good Christian Bitches.

For a show as fluffy as GCB, it sure does tackle some pertinent ethical issues.

Obviously, there’s the comedic take on religion that is the shows hallmark, but there’s also politics, money and, according to last night’s episode, “Adam & Eve’s Rib”, feminism.

Bad girl gone good Amanda Vaughn is always looking to set an example for her fatherless children after he cheated on Amanda with her bestie, died in a car accident and left them without a cent to their name. She doesn’t want her rich mother buying her kids designer threads and she doesn’t want them to be part of the popular crowd that she reigned supreme over at high school. (Well, this really only applies to Amanda’s daughter, Laura. I’m not really sure where the son’s at.)

When the annual Dallas Interfaith BBQ Invitational comes around and it emerges that only men are allowed to participate, Amanda throws her hat in the ring with her team consisting of only her daughter and, begrudgingly, her mother at that time. As each of the other female characters’ partners wrong them, they slowly join Amanda in her feminist crusade, helping to provide the meat, the secret sauce, and the wood that makes the smoke smell—and therefore the ribs taste—so good. It goes to show that if men from different religions can get along in the name of barbeque, then so can women who hate each other in the name of feminism.

Of course the show steers clear of invoking the “F” word too much, though there is a nod to Gloria Steinem (“Glory what?!” Laura exclaims. It might have been wise to teach your daughter about gender equality before you decided to adopt the movement, Amanda.) But we all know that the crafty incorporation of moral and ethical issues into pop culture is how we get the message across to the layman.

With all of GCB’s posturing on the oftentimes absurdity of religion, the hypocrisy of white, rich, straight (or presumed straight, in Blake’s case) male-dominated Dallas (and, indeed, Church) life, and the role of the female in these institutions, it’s a shame the show has been cancelled. Only one more episode to go on Australian shores…

Image via ABC.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

I’m not sure if it is an image of Rihanna’s post-domestic violence face, but here’s what Chris Brown’s neck tattoo says about intimate partner violence and sexual assault. [Pandagon]

The latest in a long line of unfavourable reviews of Naomi Wolf’s new “biography” – Vagina – Germaine Greer had her take on it published in The Age last weekend. I’m going to read Vagina: A New Biography regardless, but the high hopes I had for it have been dashed. [SMH]

In the lead up to the Presidential election, it’d do all Americans good to realise that reproductive health is an economic issue. [Jezebel]

The visceral fear this writer manages to evoke when she reveals her experience of being harassed on public transport is palpable. Hands up who’s ever experienced something similar whilst deigning to be female in public. [unWinona, via Jezebel]

The politics of Anna Wintour. [Daily Beast]

The gender imbalance in the opinion pages. [Daily Life]

Five police-sanctioned reasons why women “deserve” to be raped. Well, I’m guilty of all these things so apparently I “deserve” to be sexually assaulted, too! [Daily Life]

How to talk to kids about gay parents. [The Good Men Project]

This is why religious people shouldn’t work in medicine: one woman’s experience of being refused the morning after pill. [MamaMia]

Why is atheism so excluding of women? [Slate]

Image via Always A-List.

TV: Religious Extremism in the Fifth Season of True Blood.

True Blood has always had a socio-cultural-political-sexual statement to make: vampires are marginalised like blacks and gays. Supernatural beings are inherently sexual and therefore can’t be stopped. Vampires are just the beginning of a myriad of other “supes”: maenads, witches, “shifters, were-chickens and whatever the fuck else is out there!” as Sheriff Andy Bellefleur so eloquently puts it. If we grant acceptance to them, we have to accept everyone else.

So when mention of the biblical Lilith is made at the beginning of season five, along with the existence of Salome, it’s obvious the season was going to tackle the hard, religious issues.

Lilith has long been appropriated as a vampiric being, so it’s not unusual that she should be reappropriated for True Blood’s “original bible”—the vampire bible—as being created before Adam and Eve, not with Adam, and in God’s image. Ergo, God’s a vampire and “human shall nourish vampire”.

Lilith takes on the role of the temptress, her manifestation turning everyone who drinks her blood into hallucinating psychopaths, no one more than Bill, who kills numerous Authority members in his quest to be Lilith’s chosen one. Lilith urges both him, Salome and others to “Drink the blood, drink all the blood”, which destroys Bill’s vampire form and brings him back as something demonic and altogether other worldly. Lilith’s blood is no doubt a metaphor for blindly drinking the Kool Aid of organised religion.

The rest of the season, which culminated in Bill’s transcendence last night, also focusses on religious extremism, but I think it’s the Obama mask-wearing, supe-killing hate group terrorising Bon Temps that makes the most poignant remarks about religion.

The Human Patriots don’t come to the fore til about midway through the season, when Sam’s shifter friends, then Sam himself, Luna and Emma, are attacked. The conclusion is drawn that they were targeted because they’re shifters. Some digging by Sam and the sheriff’s office uncovers a website called the Human Patriot Manifesto, replete with a “grand dragon” à la the Ku Klux Klan, which vows to stop supes stealing our jobs, controlling the media, gaining equal rights and “making us feel bad for being regular old humans”. Sookie’s even caught in the cross-fire for simply being “associated with vampires”. Sounds an awful lot like, from an Australian perspective, the panic about asylum seekers in the media and the government. The amount of times I’ve heard someone say that we shouldn’t be accepting “boat people” into our country because they want to change our way of living, steal our jobs and mooch off our tax dollars on Centrelink (for those non-Aussies playing at home, that’s our department of welfare): so which is it? Do they want to take our jobs or not work at all?

It’s a very relevant debate on the way mainstream Western culture treats “others”: in this case, supernatural beings. That the terrorists wear Barack Obama masks (a reporter even asks if it’s true that Barack Obama is killing supes!) is a not-so-subtle dig at the opinion that Obama enables minorities (Muslim’s ’cause he is one, didn’t you know? And don’t the Republicans hate Mexicans?) instead of looking out for his countrymen. Again, not so different from the asylum seeker debate…

Speaking of “mainstreaming”, that’s the name given to the assimilation of vampires with humans, the movement which Chris Meloni’s Roman heads up. According to the U.S. Government’s liaison, he’s “the only one stopping the world from sliding back into the dark ages”. When the opposing Sanguinista movement (religious fundamentalists who believe in the literal translation of the vampire bible: that humans serve only as a food source for vampires) rises up from within the ranks of the Authority, all hell begins to break loose, some of which I couldn’t keep up with and am still trying to work through mentally.

But not everyone is hip to this idea, with the phrases “Wake up sister, it’s just a book. I knew the guy who wrote it and he was high the whole time,” “You are destroying the world based on a book that is thousands of years old… That’s the opposite of evolved,” and “The small-mindedness of your religion has literally kept you in the dark” rattling around throughout the season. If these aren’t a commentary on the religious right attempting to control the government in the U.S., then I don’t know what is. In fact, the Authority, as Pam so helpfully points out, is the vampire government and church: the church controls the government. Ever the bitchy voice of reason, she also ponders aloud the question of how many times she’ll have to live through the same “scenario happen[ing] over and over”. Rest assured, if the Republicans are elected this year, the United States will begin to resemble the dark age-esque, blood soaked mise en scène of Bon Temps, Louisiana. I guess we know who Alan Ball et al will be voting for…

Images via AllMyVideos.

TV: What’s Eating April Kempner?

One of the couples I’ve been wanting to get together forever on Grey’s Anatomy finally did a couple of weeks ago: April and Jackson. But, as a virgin who has apparently now broken her promise to Jesus, their love wasn’t meant to be (well, except for that second go around in the men’s bathroom during their boards!).

I just don’t get how you can be a doctor—an occupation where science, fact and the tangible reign supreme—and be religious at the same time. A job which involves you, and other skilled scientists like you, saving someone’s life cannot be clouded by “God’s way” and “oh well, they’ve moved on to a better place.”

I really hate the direction April’s character seems to be going in after her outburst during her examination, in which she tells the facilitators that first and foremost she would pray for her patients and that she’s sick of “holding back my relationship with God” from a bunch of scientists. Did the writers really have to make April’s virginity a direct correlation to her faith? I know a few older virgins who haven’t had the opportunity or are waiting to be in a serious relationship to have sex, not because they think premarital sex is “inappropriate” or that Jesus will hate them if they engage in it. April even goes as far as to say that the reason she’s even more highly strung than usual isn’t because “I broke my promise… The problem is… that it felt good.” Ahh, and so sin rears its ugly Jesse Williams-esque head.

Further to this, when it turns out all of April’s potential attending jobs have been pulled after tanking her boards and Jackson tries to comfort her, she says he just feels guilty because now “no one wants me”. She may have just been referring to hospitals, but I have a sneaking suspicion April also meant potential suitors.

Grey’s Anatomy is usually so progressive when it comes to matters of sex and stereotypes, so I really hope this God-fearing version of April Kempner remedies itself by next season.

Related: The Underlying Message in Grey’s Anatomy’s “Superfreak” Episode.

Image via Putlocker.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Seven years on from Tom Cruise’s couch-jumping incident and Rich Juzwiack ponders how it changed Cruise’s career and pop culture itself. [Gawker]

Is “ambition” a dirty word for women? [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

London takes steps to eliminate street harassment. Or make people more aware of its ramifications, at least. [Jezebel]

Meanwhile, the Rookie girls tell their tales of street harassment.

How male body objectification derailed D’Angelo’s R‘n’B career. [Jezebel]

What it’s like to be a third world woman and how their circumstances can be changed. [NY Times] 

(Religious) men who hate women. [HuffPo]

Image via Celebitchy.

TV: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “On My Way” Episode.

Well, if last night’s Glee episode wasn’t an after-school special, I don’t know what is.

The writers had the opportunity to really shock with Dave Karofsky’s suicide attempt and actually have him die, whilst also getting the oft-heard message across that gay teen suicides are rampant in our culture.

Not only that, but the epidemic of cyber bullying in general. Warbler Sebastian threatens New Directions with the online publication of a risqué photoshopped image of Finn if Rachel doesn’t drop out of regionals, and Sugar remarks, “If someone posted a picture like that of me online I’d probably kill myself.” Not only is that an example, on the one hand, of Glee’s insensitivity to a myriad of diversity issues, it also hit the nail on the head: many young people do kill themselves when incriminating pictures of them, real or not, hit the net. Tyler Clementi, anyone?

What really irked me, though, was self-righteous Quinn and how, in Bible group, she admonishes Karofsky for putting his family through something so “selfish”.

“I feel sorry for Karofsky but I feel worse for his family. He didn’t just want to hurt himself he wanted to hurt everyone around him. I went through the ringer, but I never got to that place…”

Kurt, who despite not believing in God crashes the meeting to pay tribute to Karofsky, tells Quinn that teen pregnancy and pink hair hardly qualify as going through the same ringer as gay kids. “You really want to try to compare…?” Quinn says. “I just can’t imagine things getting so messed up that you would consider taking your own life.”

While I think what Quinn says does have some truth to it, what gay kids go through during school, and in society at large, is incomparable to most of us. But everyone has their line to cross, and if we remember back to last season, it was revealed that Quinn left her first high school because she was bullied for being fat and ugly. I think we can all relate to that; even if we aren’t actually fat or ugly, we’ve all been called those things at some stage!

Apparently, Mr. Shue’s line was his dad catching him cheating on a math test, so he went up to the roof and was about to jump. I’m sorry; I know I just said everyone has their cross to bear, but I think that piece of the storyline served to diminish real problems, like Kurt and Santana’s struggle with their sexuality, and Artie’s disability, and solidify Will as the worst character on the show.

Not to worry, though: New Directions wins regionals with a medly of “It Gets Better”-esque songs, like “Fly/I Believe I Can Fly” and “Stronger”, whilst burying the hatchet with Sebastian and the Warblers, who are equally after-school specialish, singing “Stand” and “Glad You Came”. Oh, and of course they dedicated their performance to Karofsky, who Sebastian met once when he rejected him at a gay bar and the rest of the Warblers don’t even know. Makes sense!

But the real shocker of the episode came right at the very end (and you can see it coming for about 10 minutes prior): Quinn’s car gets hit by a truck. I guess that’s what you get for texting and driving and comparing your white girl problems to those of people with actual problems.

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee‘s “Original Song” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee‘s “Grilled Cheesus” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee‘s “Born This Way” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “I Kissed A Girl” Episode.

Image via While Not Making Other Plans.

TV: Top 11 TV Moments of 2011.

Paper Giants.

One of the best shows this year. Unfortunately, it only ran over two nights.

The Kennedys.

Wow. Just wow. I loved this miniseries that was cancelled by the History Channel in the U.S. because it allegedly portrayed the Kennedy family in too negative a light. Luckily, it was picked up by the ABC here. I am now officially in love with Greg Kinnear.

Go Back to Where You Came From.

Apart from Sarah Ferguson’s Four Corners expose on the meat industry (below), SBS’s Go Back to Where You Came From was the most groundbreaking television this year. Unfortunately, I don’t think it changed anyone’s minds about the plight of refugees in this country, because those who already empathise with asylum seekers were the show’s target audience, and those who think refugees should go back to where they came from snubbed the show.

Sookie & Eric Finally Get Together on True Blood.

While I’m more of a Sookie and Bill fan, and an Alcide-in-general fan, Eric’s turn as sensitive Sookie-lover in True Blood’s fourth season was a must-watch. But thankfully, the Nordic vampire is back to his old, heartless self.

Charlotte King’s Rape in Private Practice.

Private Practice is an oft-shunned show, in favour of its Seattle counterpart, Grey’s Anatomy, but season four dealt with abortion and rape particularly sensitively and realistically.

Four Corners’ Expose on the Meat Market.

This was probably one of the most talked about news stories in Australia, if one of the most poorly rated episodes of Four Corners. Not because people didn’t care, but because it was so hard to watch. It’s perhaps too soon to tell, but I think we are seeing a chance in meat practices in Australia because of this story.

The Slap.

I found one of ABC’s most anticipated shows of the year to be a spectacular letdown. I’d had Christos Tsiolkas’ novel on my reading list since it was released, however I missed out on reading it before the show premiered in October. Perhaps if I had read the book first I would feel differently about the show, but I found it to be stereotypical and tokenistic, and a massive disappointment from the screen version I had hyped up in my mind. Fail.

MamaMia Gets Its Own TV Show.

Probably not many TV watchers outside of the insular community of MamaMia and Sky News would have known about Mia Freedman’s lifestyle website making the switch to TV. I don’t have pay TV but, luckily, the shows are available to watch on the MamaMia website, YouTube and Facebook, where the panelists talk about all manner of things, like sex, mental illness, celebrity, porn, religion, parenthood and more.

Angry Boys.

I hadn’t watched any of Chris Lilley’s stuff before Angry Boys and, while a lot who had thought the show was a bit of a letdown, I really enjoyed it.

Housos.

Another one that was a bit hit-and-miss, I’d anticipated the show all year. While some moments were gold, others were just supremely unfunny.

At Home With Julia.

Finally, the cherry on top of a parody-tastic television year. I really enjoyed Amanda Bishop’s portrayal of Julia Gillard, but I still found the fact that there was a show about a sitting prime minister pretty offensive.

Any TV moments I missed here that you thought defined 2011?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Response: Go Back to Where You Came From.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Private Practice: Pro-Choice?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Slap & Men Who Cheat.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] At Home with Julia: Funny or Disrespectful?

What Makes a Good Person?

Recently, Erica Bartle wrote about her Christian angst on Girl with a Satchel.

She said her “newfound sensibility” has made her “hyper-sensitive” to all that is wrong in the world. “Why can’t everything just be nice and Christian?!” she bemoans.

I wrote in response in the comments section that I don’t think what she’s experiencing is an exclusively faith (in the religious sense of the world; I’m an agnostic, yet I still believe in a higher power of some kind and that all things that are meant to be will eventuate. I know atheists who, like George Michael, have faith.) -based problem.

Last week, a former colleague and Facebook friend wrote an anti-refugee status along the lines of “fuck off, we’re full”. Classy. I commented, saying that as the “lucky country”, we should be extending our resources and welcoming asylum seekers with open arms, as they have a legal right to seek asylum in whichever country they can gain access to which is safer than their own. To cut a long story short, a shitstorm ensued, and bigoted bogans far and wide chimed in to berate me and asylum seekers alike.

They claimed “boat people” were making their local kinders stop celebrating Easter and Christmas and that while people like me have to pay for my education, they get it for free. I don’t know where they get this misinformation (middle-right mainstream media, step right up), which is what I wrote, albeit in a more forceful manner, and was attacked personally for it.

There is a fine line between standing up for what you believe in and berating all others who don’t subscribe to the same school of thought. If bigotry means not being able to see the other side and thinking less of those on it, then call me one, because I just can’t see the reasoning behind being so uncaring and un-compassionate. (The downside to free speech.)

So if standing up for what you believe in and the rights of others makes you a “good person” by a lot of peoples’ definitions, which side makes you a “better” person? The side that wants to protect our country’s borders and focus our money and resources on people already in it, or the side that believes we should extend those privileges to those in need, no matter which country they hail from? And why isn’t the latter the more mainstream and accepted view?

Bartle writes that sometimes her hypersensitivity to issues not unlike the one I just mentioned makes her wail, “Why can’t I just be NORMAL?!”

What is normal, anyway?

If normal means having the prejudiced views of the friends of my Facebook friend and, indeed, the two main governmental parties in this country, then normal is something I do not want to be. From the last two and a half years of content Bartle has posted on her blog (not to mention the two years before I discovered GWAS), I doubt it’s something she would really strive for, either.

But, to be a woman of God means to “let go of the idea of your awesomeness, your pride and your talents” and “burning ambitions/dreams/desires”. Forgive me, but the “god” I believe in wants me to be the best I can possibly be at whatever I choose. (“God” is starting to sound an awful lot like “mum”.) I want me to be, too. There’s that pride thing Bartle’s talking about…

So does being a “good person” mean being agreeable, having no passion and being boring? I know some of these people and, to my mind, they mightn’t be bad people, but they’re not much brighter than “normal”, either. To be a good person you need to buck the status quo, and be both passionate and compassionate. These things make you anything but boring and “normal”.

But we see what these things lead to, and it’s anything but compassion.

Take the Mia Freedman/Cadel Evans saga, for example. Freedman has made a career out of giving her opinion on all things media- and woman-centric, which is exactly why the unwashed masses turned on her when she deigned to question the focus we put on sportspeople at the expense of other, perhaps more deserving, people.

Bartle includes an excerpt from Get Her Off the Pitch: How Sport Took Over My Life by Lynne Truss, in which the author writes that sport can sometimes be a waste of time (my thoughts exactly!) which, in turn, got me thinking about pack mentality, both in sport and in religion.

We’ve seen how mobs of sports fans engage in rioting, amongst other pack-like behaviour. Even the very act of cheering and booing your favourite/least favourite team in the stands is inherently mob-like. Not to mention the “group-bonding” sessions of gang rape and group sex amongst teammates. (This is not to say all sport is bad; it’s just not for me, and this is just one of the myriad of reasons why.)

Religion, I believe, also encourages such actions. The use of deities to justify all manner of wars, massacres, executions, terrorism, riots, rapes, murders, stonings, and law reform, amongst many others. (This is not to say all those who are religious subscribe to such extremities, but I do believe that all organised religion is a crock.)

And we, as a society, accept such behaviours because they are hidden under the cloak of Godliness, or Australianess. (More on what is considered Australian and un-Australian tomorrow.)

So, this has gotten a little off-track, but I suppose I’m putting the question out there: “What makes a good person?” Obviously, this is a never-ending debate, but I do know that being one is certainly not dependent on religion or “patriotism”.

I think it’s dependent on being courageous, compassionate, respectful, which in turn generates respect, standing up for what you believe in and having the courage of your convictions, staying true to yourself, standing up for the underdog and yes, being a little bit proud and selfish every now and then. ’Cause no one respects a “yes” (wo)man.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] In Defence of Mia Freedman.

Elsewhere: [Girl with a Satchel] I’m a Christian, Get Me Outta Here!