TV: Revenge is a Dish Best Served by a Woman.

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In an episode that aired a few of weeks ago—“Power”—judge’s wife and friend of the Graysons Patricia Barnes revealed she’s a sufferer of domestic violence. With protagonist Emily Thorn’s encouragement, Patricia helps piece together part of the Revenge puzzle and purge herself of her powerless victim status. Because the women of Revenge are anything but powerless.

For a show that focuses so much around power, money, killing and vengeance, women really are at the centre of these traditionally male attributes and they’re calling all the shots.

Obviously, there’s Emily/Amanda, and the avenging of her father’s wrongful incarceration for crimes he didn’t commit and his subsequent death, which the show revolves around, and her juvie parallel Amanda/Emily, whose surfacing (and resurfacing) in the Hamptons last season threw everything into disarray.

But we all know Revenge’s most intriguing female character is Victoria Grayson. Madeleine Stowe plays the aloof ice maiden with a past that was revealed in season two’s “Lineage” to perfection, which kind of makes you understand why she is the way she is.

And then there’s the secondary—albeit still important to the story—female characters Charlotte, Padma, Emily’s mum, Helen Crowley and Ashley, who are all strongly rendered, which is more than can be said for some of the male characters.

Daniel Grayson has proved himself to have some gumption after all when he overthrew his father from the head of Grayson Global this season. Viewers could be excused for thinking this wasn’t the case last year, when it seemed like all Daniel did was follow Emily around like a puppy.

This is quite the juxtaposition to Jack, who is a lovely guy but tends to get walked over because of it. He’s also a somewhat feminised character, showing emotion often and saying things like “I’m going to prove that you can have it all”.

The thing Daniel and Jack both have in common, though, and with the rest of the male cast, for that matter, is that they are easily manipulated by the women in their lives. Daniel “floats through life on the crests of women, unable to make his own decisions”. Conrad, although he thinks he’s the head of the Grayson household, is also subtly controlled by Victoria, and allows himself to be influenced by Ashley’s business acumen when she returns to work for him in “Sabotage” a few weeks ago. Nolan has proved himself to be a loyal friend and revenge-partner to Emily, but is treated like absolute shit by her, not to mention being screwed over several times by Padma. Aiden is probably the strongest male character on the surface, but when he rebels against Emily, he’s dressed down by his storyline and comes crawling back to her way of exacting retribution in last night’s “Union”. Let’s not forget Mason Treadwell, perhaps the biggest victim of Emily’s vendetta (you know, apart from all the men who end up dead), who’s now serving time for crimes he didn’t commit in the vain hope Emily comes through on her promise to give him her scoop when it’s all over.

Speaking of Emily, she is a strange character, isn’t she, in that she doesn’t really have any personality traits (though it could be argued that it’s all part of her plan to mask her true identity and come across as a blank canvas onto which people can project their perceptions of her). Revenge is a plot-driven show, so you get behind Emily’s plight because of the hardships she’s faced in her past. But very rarely do we get a glimpse into her inner psyche. It’s perhaps only when Sammy, her dog, dies and when her mum, Kara, comes back from the dead that we see a glimmer of emotion. This is on the contrary to someone like Victoria whose emotions are kept close to her chest but which you can see in her eyes, or even Amanda, who fluctuates between anger, protection and passion. When Amanda accuses Emily of destroying lives with her obsession, Emily justifies it by attesting that she’s “righting wrongs”. And the only way to do that is to “close your heart if you want to succeed.” Ahh, the wise words of Mr. Takeda, one of the only male characters whose integrity manages to remain unscathed.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say Revenge is a feminist show, but it is refreshing to not hear a mention of a woman’s incapability to pull off what Emily, Victoria, Ashley et al. have managed to, that I recall. Vengeance is perhaps not the most attractive motive to have, but Emily is steadfast and solitary in her mission to avenge her father. She employs mostly men to do some of her dirty work, but she’s the mastermind of the operation. And while Victoria’s scheming from the confines of her Hamptons mansion isn’t necessarily the most positive portrayal of a woman, she is a smart lady, much like Ashley, who refused to accept her firing by Victoria after she was prostituted out to one of Daniel’s rivals and caught sleeping with Conrad and hustled to find a consulting position with him like the “cat [who] dragged itself back in”. Revenge is a show in which the women are just as reprehensible—and powerful—as the men.

Related: Dominic Dunne Makes a (Re)Venge-ful Return to the Small Screen.

Image via Pop Culture Nerd.

12 Trends of 2012.

Girls (Who Run the World).

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So misogyny may be running wild in the real world, but on TV, girls are calling the shots. We’ve had a bevvy of shows with “girl/s” both in the title and the storylines this year, with 2 Broke Girls and New Girl carrying their success over from 2011. While a lot of the subject matter is problematic, both shows have women carrying the comedy. Which brings us to just plain Girls, which is the brainchild of actor, writer and director Lena Dunham. Girls is not without its problems, either, but its portrayal of young urban women is almost faultless. Rounding out the representation of leading ladies in 2012 we have Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23, Homeland, Revenge, The Mindy Project, Are You There, Chelsea?, Smash, GCB (farewell!), Scandal, Nurse JackieVeep, Emily Owens, M.D., Whitney, The Good Wife and Hart of Dixie.

“Call Me Maybe”.

Until “Gangnam Style” came along, the YouTube Zeitgeist was dominated by one runaway success: Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”. Justin Bieber’s protégé came out of nowhere with the catchiest song of the year, which was subsequently covered by the guys from Harvard’s baseball team, Barack Obama and the Cookie Monster! Talk about diversity!

2012: Apocalypse Now.

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2012 was the year of the apocalypse, with the 21st of December long determined by the Mayans (or Mayan conspiracy theorists) as the day the world ends. You know, until the 7th of December tried to steal its thunder as the apparent recalculated date. Apart from the natural disasters, warfare and massacres, the 21st passed without a nuclear bombing, ice age or attitudinal shift, putting rest to the apocalypse panic. Until the next rapture, anyway…

Shit ___ Say.

It started with a sexist albeit funny YouTube video of a guy in a wig quoting “Shit Girls [Apparently] Say”, which snowballed into “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls”, “Shit New Yorkers Say”, “Shit Christians Say to Jews” and “Shit Nobody Says”. Cue offence.

Snow White.

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Snow White was everywhere this year: Mirror Mirror, Snow White & the Hunstman, Once Upon a Time… Note: overexposure isn’t necessarily a good thing. In fact, I hated Mirror Mirror and Once Upon a Time, and Snow White & the Huntsman was such a snooze-fest I can barely remember what happened (not including Kristen Stewart’s affair with director Rupert Sanders).

50 Shades of Grey.

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On the one hand, E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey has singlehandedly revived the flailing publishing industry, so that’s a good thing. But on the other, it has falsely lulled its legions of (mostly female) fans into a state of apparent sexual empowerment: it’s a book about sex targeted towards women, so that means we’re empowered and we don’t need feminism anymore, right?

Oh, how wrong you Anastasia and Christian fans are…

“Gangnam Style”.

The Macarena of the 21st century, Psy’s horse dance took the world by storm, being performed in conjunction with Mel B on The X Factor, with Hugh Jackman in his Wolverine gloves, on Glee and at many a wedding, 21st birthday and Christmas party.

Misogyny.

Misogyny has long been the focus of feminists, but the word and its meaning really reached fever pitch this year.

After Julia Gillard’s scathing Question Time takedown of Tony Abbott and his sexist ways, people everywhere were quick to voice their opinion on her courage and/or hypocrisy. At one end of the spectrum, it could be said that Gillard finally had enough of the insidious sexist bullshit so many women in the workforce face on a daily basis and decided to say something about it, while at the other, many argued that the Labor party were crying sexism in a bid to smooth over the Peter Slipper slip up.

Julia Baird wrote last month in Sunday Life:

“Her electric speech on misogyny in parliament went beyond the sordid political context to firmly press a button on the chest of any woman who has been patronised, sidelined, dismissed or abused. It crackled across oceans, and, astonishingly, her standing went up in the polls, defying political wisdom that no woman would benefit from publicly slamming sexism.”

Whatever the motivation behind the speech, it went viral, with Twitter blowing up, The New Yorker writing that U.S. politicians could take a page out of Gillard’s book when it comes to their legislative hatred of all things female , laypeople bringing “misogyny” into their everyday lexicon, and Macquarie Dictionary using the momentum to broaden the word’s definition.

Kony.

jason russell kony 2012

The viral doco that had millions of people rushing to plaster their neighbourhood in “Kony 2012” posters on 20th of April to little effect (the campaign’s goal was to catch Joseph Kony by years end) illustrated our obsession with social media, armchair activism and supporting the “cool” charities, not the thousands of worthy charities out there who could actually use donations to help their cause, not to produce YouTube videos and work the press circuit.

I’m Not a Feminist, But…

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While Tony Abbott is clamouring to call himself a feminist to gain electoral favour despite the abovementioned misogyny saga, it seems famous women can’t declare their anti-feminism fast enough.

First we had new mother and Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer jumping at the chance to shun feminism despite the fact that without it she wouldn’t be where she is today. My favourite anti-feminist campaigner Taylor Swift said she doesn’t think of herself as a feminist because she “was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.” Um, Tay? That’s what feminism is, love.

Then there’s Katy Perry, who won’t let the whipped cream-spurting bra fool you: “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women.” Right then.

Garnering less attention, but just as relevantly, was Carla Bruni-Sarkozy asserting that feminism is a thing only past generations need concern themselves with, while in an interview with MamaMia last week, Deborah Hutton also denounced her feminism.

Cronulla.

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The cronies from Sutherland Shire were all over our boxes, primarily on Channel Ten, this year. There was the widely panned Being Lara Bingle, the even worse Shire, and the quintessential Aussie drama set in the ’70s, Puberty Blues.

While these shows assisted in shedding a different light on the suburb now synonymous with race riots, it’s not necessarily a positive one, with The Shire being cancelled and Being Lara Bingle hanging in the balance.

White Girls in Native American Headdresses.

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This one really reared its racist head towards the end of the year, right around the festivities of Halloween and Thanksgiving.We had No Doubt “Looking Hot Racist” and Karlie Kloss donning a headdress for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, in addition to the cultural appropriation of VS’s “Go East” lingerie line, Gala Darling’s headdress furore and Chris Brown dressed as a Middle Eastern terrorist for Halloween.

You’d think we were heading into 1953, not 2013.

Related: Posts Tagged “New Girl”.

2 Broke Girls Aren’t So Broke That They’d Turn to Sex Work.

Posts Tagged “Girls”.

Posts Tagged “Smash”.

Feminism, Barbeque & Good Christian Bitches.

Mirror Mirror Review.

Was Kristen Stewart’s Public Apology Really Necessary?

50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James Review.

Hating Kony is Cool.

Taylor Swift: The Perfect Victim.

Whipped Cream Feminism: The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

The Dire Shire.

Shaming Lara Bingle.

Is Gwen Stefani Racist?

The Puberty Blues Give Way to Feminism.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Why We Need to Keep Talking About the White Girls on Girls.

[io9] Why is Everybody Obsessed with Snow White Right Now?

[The Age] What Women Want.

[The New Yorker] Ladylike: Julia Gillard’s Misogyny Speech.

[Jezebel] Does it Matter if Marissa Mayer Doesn’t Think She’s a Feminist?

[Jezebel] Katy Perry, Billboard’s Woman of the Year, is “Not a Feminist”.

[MamaMia] Meet the Women at Our Dinner Table: Deborah Hutton.

[Daily Life] Carla Bruni’s Vogue Interview has Rough Landing.

[Racialicious] Nothing Says Native American Heritage Month Like White Girls in Headdresses.

[Racialicious] Victoria’s Secret Does it Again: When Racism Meets Fashion.

[Jezebel] Karlie Kloss as a Half-Naked “Indian” & Other Absurdities from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

[xoJane] Fear & Loathing in the Comments Section… And Some Clarity.

[HuffPo] Chris Brown Halloween Costume: Singer Tweets Picture of Himself Dressed Up as Terrorist for Rihanna’s Party.

Images via Collider, Fox News Latino, io9, November Grey, ABC, Now Public, Ten.

The Allure of TV.

 

Yesterday I was accused of “going home to watch TV” every night, when usually what I do when I get home is take the dog for a walk and spend the rest of the night reading. I do watch a lot of TV (this year especially I have managed to watch pretty much all my series’ as they air, including the deluge of new shows like New Girl, Revenge and 2 Broke Girls, and still have plenty of spare time left over. Previous years have seen me struggle to keep up. Odd.), so I don’t know why I was so offended by the comment. I think it was because I was judged based on some throwaway comments I’ve said in passing about catching up on Revenge and Once Upon a Time. Fittingly, last night I read this in The Big Issue:

“Nobody really cares about TV. What they care about is how TV makes them feel: smart, carefree or enjoyably furious at something or someone who isn’t the person they sit next to a work all day.

“Watching TV us one way of ensuring you’re not left making daisy chains [a reference to an earlier metaphor about cricket]. You’re on a team. You’ve studied a show alone in your lounge room, much like those other kids who practised cricket alone in their backyards. You love that character, and anyone who doesn’t like her is dead to you. Unless they’ve read the book, in which case they’re an asset to the side and you’ll pick them first, until they stop watching or admit that they kind of prefer Boardwalk Empire.”

Image via HuffPo.

TV: Dominick Dunne Makes a (Re)Venge-ful Return to the Small Screen.

 

When Mason Treadwell, the man who sold out to the Graysons and published a book full of lies about alleged terrorist David Clarke fifteen years ago, resurfaced last night on Revenge, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities with fellow society (hell, Treadwell’s book is called Society Connection) writer, Dominick Dunne.

Just a few weeks ago, Serena van der Woodsen was channelling him over on Gossip Girl, and now it seems the late, (arguably, but definitely in my mind) great Dunne is making an appearance on a show that bears similarities with the real life sideshow that was Dunne’s existence.

Dunne became famous when his daughter was murdered by her boyfriend, who got off scot free, which inspired him to write about the injustices of crime amongst the rich and famous, which parlayed itself into a top-rating TV show. Granted, Dunne was never involved in the takedown of a terrorist, but perhaps his most high profile case was covering that of O.J. Simpson.

Dunne was adept at loss: he was an alcoholic shunned from Hollywood during his first career as a producer, several of his children died in infancy, in addition to daughter Dominique’s death, his wife left him and despite his successes amongst some celebrities, he was outcast by others.

How will Mason Treadwell cope with losing everything?

Related: Gossip Girl—Is Serena Our Generation’s Dominick Dunne?

Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne Review.

The Mansions of Limbo by Dominick Dunne Review.

Images via Sockshare, Deadline.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Why the Marilyn meme does more harm than good for body love:

“I would prefer the focus be on health, rather than appearance. The Monroe Meme seems about the furthest thing from healthy. This is a woman who abused alcohol and sleeping pills later in her life, this is a woman who (probably) died due to depression. But, hey, as long as someone thinks she looks good, I guess that’s what matters.” [Shameless Magazine]

I’m a Friday Feminaust!

The media-perpetuated myth of the bad man. Interestingly, substitute the words “bad” and “aggressive” for “weak” and “victim”, and you pretty much have the media-perpetuated myth of the good woman. No one can win in this game. [The Good Men Project]

Why guys cat-call, explained. [Jezebel]

The making of Britney Spears: The Cabaret. [Bryant & Frank’s Blog]

Apparently conservatives are dumber than progressives. For the amount of Facebook arguments I’ve had on the topics of abortion and asylum seekers, this doesn’t surprise me. [HuffPo]

Not all registered sex offenders are dangerous: “Should Teens Be Jailed for Sex Offences?” [The Daily Beast]

The Rodarte sisters look at their favourite Buffy episodes. I feel a marathon coming on… [Rookie]

Does Katherine Heigl have any fans left? After Killers, I’d say I’m hanging by a thread! [The Daily Beast]

Real Housewife Taylor Armstrong’s “violent marriage”. Sad. [Jezebel]

“In Defence of Rescue Dogs.” The don’t need defending in my mind, but apparently they’re seen as dirty rejects by a lot of people. [MamaMia]

2 Broke Girls hasn’t even aired here yet, but prepare yourself for racism galore! [Grantland]

The must-watch new show of the year: Revenge. [Jezebel, Gawker]

The angry, black female trope. [Washington Post]

And even more “angry” women:

“‘God, you really don’t like being a woman, do you?’

“In two short moves we’d leapt from his infidelity to my ostensible gender dysmorphia and/or self-loathing…

“What struck me was that both Rex and the attorney had delivered ill-timed, emotionally charged information, and when I’d expressed proportionate anger or irritation, the blame somehow boomeranged back onto me. I’d been expected to remain amiable… [y]et their reaction was still confusion and rancor when I pointed out their inanity.

“How do we alter the notion that a woman who stands up for herself, her loved ones, or her beliefs is the one who’s causing trouble? By accepting once and for all that legitimate female anger isn’t the hallmark of a bitch, cunt, ballbuster, or drama queen.”

[Nerve, via Jezebel]

The beauty of the corset. [Jezebel]

Images via Rookie, Rhinestone Religion, Jezebel.