TV: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Makeover” Episode.

With the U.S. presidential election taking place one day before Glee’s “Makeover” episode—in which McKinley High’s class presidential election occurred—aired in Australia, Glee showed that it is capable of some self-awareness and social commentary every now and then.

Shades of Brittany’s bid for last year’s class presidency can be seen, but where that episode dealt more with the feminism of both the 2008 and McKinley’s elections, last night was about the celebrity culture that surrounds voting.

Blaine tries to make this clear when he admonishes Brittany for using her popularity to influence the glee club members to vote for her. “This isn’t a popularity contest; it’s about who’s got the best ideas.” That may be so, but the creators saw fit to milk this angle for all it’s worth with a “Celebrity Skin” by Hole montage.

While Brittany chooses to run with “part-robot” Artie, whom she forgot she dated several seasons ago and broke up with because he called her stupid, as her vice presidential candidate, a category which Sue Sylvester points out has been introduced “for no discernible reason whatsoever”, she suggests Blaine pick Sam as running mate. Sam assures Blaine he’ll bring in the “sympathy” and “not-gay vote[s]” because his family is on food stamps and he’s not gay: kind of like John McCain picked his “granddaughter” (according to Brittany) Sarah Palin as vice presidential candidate in 2008 to seemingly ensure the “female” vote to no avail.

Brittany’s influence on her opposition seemed to work to her disadvantage, as at the end of the episode we see Blaine and Sam (“Blam” as they are collectively called on the congratulations banner) celebrating their victory. Blaine is experiencing some self-doubt and displacement at McKinley when Kurt is more focused on his new intern-career at Vogue.com with guest star Sarah Jessica Parker (who herself is heavily involved in politics and the campaign to get Obama reelected, serendipitously enough) than him, but Sam says being the school’s “first gay-guy president” whose place of birth is brought into question by Brittany is something to be proud of, just like Obama was America’s first black president whose birthplace was also called into question by a fellow “celebrity” perhaps bitter about Obama’s influence in Hollywood: Donald Trump.

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Asian F” Episode.

Image via AllMyVideos.

Movies: I Don’t Know Why They Keep Making Chick Flicks Like This*.

 

Even though I’m still young and don’t have a potential baby daddy on the horizon, I’ve been contemplating children lately. How many I want, whether they’ll be biological or adopted, and how I’m going to handle (a) tiny human(s) demanding my attention 24/7. I just don’t know how parents do it!

In this day and age, with the rise of the stay-at-home dad, it’s not always the mothers’ responsibility to look after the home, the family and her workplace.

I Don’t Know How She Does It would have you think otherwise, though. Sarah Jessica Parker’s Kate Reddy is a high-flying investment banker who has a nanny during the day, but tries to spend as much time as she can with “the cutest guy she knows”, her husband, played by Greg Kinnear, and her two kids. I got the feeling that she never slept (the constant list making in bed at all hours of the night probably lent itself to this), was a walking zombie, spent minimal time with her husband and kids, spent her weekends hosting kids’ birthday parties and never had a spare moment for herself. If this is what motherhood and family life is like, I’m withdrawing my application.

But it’s not just the “out of touch”-ness of IDKHSDI, as Dana Stevens called it in her Slate review (my friend, Tess, who I went to see the movie with, drew ire with Kate’s “chronic over-apologising” and “persecution complex”, and I have to say I agree), nor the unrealistic and polar opposite portrayal of stay-at-home mums (Busy Phillips’ character, Wendy, attends the gym from 8am to 2pm every school day. My mum was a stay-at-home one and I can tell you THAT JUST DOES NOT HAPPEN! I’m insulted on behalf of housewives everywhere.) that infuriated me. It was the blatant pro-life message the film pushed.

Kate’s junior co-worker, Momo, played brilliantly by Olivia Munn, was all about work, with some occasional no-strings-attached sex to balance it out. Momo is socially awkward, hates children, and thinks Kate’s family compromises her ability to do her job.

So when Momo finds out she’s pregnant and tells Kate she’s going to “take care of it”, Kate launches into a “creepy pro-life proselytisation”. In the next scene, Momo is keeping the baby. If that’s not a unabashed punishment for a young, attractive woman enjoying sex without commitment, I don’t know what is.

As Irin Carmon puts it, “… Why, if having a choice was so awesome, the young woman in the movie couldn’t have made another one. You know, the one she convincingly would have wanted to make.”

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Elsewhere: [Slate] I Don’t Know How She Does It Reviewed: Sarah Jessica Parker Rides the Rapids of Upper-Middle-Class Parenthood.

[Jezebel] My Group Therapy Session with Sarah Jessica Parker.

Image via BoxOffice.com.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

(Sorry, only one picture this week as I wrote this quite late at night—hey, 9pm is late for me, okay! I live the lifestyle of a grandma. In fact, I think my grandma stays up later than I do!—and just wasn’t inspired.)

There’s a lot of content worth reading on MamaMia at the moment:

“Would you wear Nicole Richie’s wedding dress?” Yes, if it were a little less poofy and a little more ivory. In fact, it is somewhat similar to the wedding dress I have created in my mind for my own wedding. Now, to find that pesky groom…

By the same guy who brought you the brilliant “17 Arguments Against Gay Marriage & Why They’re Bollocks” comes the equally as brilliant “10 Things You Need to Understand About Asylum Seekers”.

This is worth taking a look at if you care at all about where your supermarket eggs come from.

And finally, is Shane Warne punching above his weight? He sure is, but really, who cares? While I can’t stand Warney and think he is the king of the douches, good on him for bagging someone as hot as Liz Hurley. But shame on her for allowing herself to be seduced by said king of the douches.

Rachel Hills on what’s in and what’s out for 2011:

“Fool: Binge drinking.

“Cool: Binge thinking.

“… Fool: Staying out til 3am because it’s a Friday night and that’s what you’re supposed to do.

“Cool: Staying in on weekends if that’s what you feel like doing, going out on weeknights if there’s something cool on…

“Fool: Internet fameballs and feigning a glamorous life in the hope of inspiring envy in others. Lifecasting.

“Cool: Mindcasting. Reading other people’s blogs instead of just trying to get them to read yours.”

Tiger Beatdown’s fun facts about straight people:

  • “Most of them are not dangerous!
  • “Some of them are actually quite lovely people.
  • “Straight people are not as violent as they are portrayed in action movies.
  • “Straight people are your neighbors, your friends, members of your community. You may be related to a straight person, or even share a room with one in the hospital.
  • “I mean it TAKES ALL KINDS, amirite?
  • “Tomorrow, while you are attending the daily Straight Pride Parades that form the totality of public life in America, take a moment to tell a straight person you support their life decisions.
  • “Tell them you know many fine straight people.
  • “Then put your hand near their ear, and pretend to find a silver dollar there. They love that shit.

“Straight people will NOT:

  • “Try to make you straight.
  • “(Not that it would work, amirite?)
  • “Make it impossible for you to appreciate Ani DiFranco on rainy days.
  • “Make you want to move to Florida.
  • “Inject a lot of brown into your wardrobe.
  • “Drag you on a cruise and then spend two weeks complaining about how few deck chairs there are.”

Just one of the reasons SJP and SATC ruined NYC:

“Cheated on your boyfriend? Threw a public hissy fit? OMG, it’s just like that one episode of ‘SATC’! So don’t sweat your own stupid, overly dramatic behaviour… everything will be okay when the credits roll in 20 minutes. Or, you know, not.”

Sady Doyle on the Julian Assange rape allegations:

“.. You know who doesn’t stand to profit? Like, at all? The women pressing the charges. Because (a) rape victims almost never profit from taking their cases through the legal system, which is why so few do, and (b) they’re already facing substantive personal smearing and stereotyping and in some cases having Keith fucking Olbermann insist they have ‘ties’ to the ‘CIA’ (oh for FUCK’s sake), and (c) they’re not pressing some airtight case here. Because, as we all know, the only AIRTIGHT rape case is one where Julian Assange jumps out of the bushes with a chainsaw and an assault rifle and you try to fight him back with your bare hands but ultimately he cuts off both your arms with the chainsaw thus ‘proving’ that you ‘resisted’ him, and oh also, he’s not Julian Assange, he’s a homeless man of colour named Stabs McMurderson, and you’re not an average woman, you’re a fourteen-year-old blonde white virgin who’s walking home from the Jesus School of Sewing and Homemakery. I would add that the whole thing would have to be captured on tape, but there have been ACTUAL RAPES that were ACTUALLY CAUGHT ON TAPE and they didn’t get through, because the defence alleged that the girl was ‘faking’ unconsciousness because she wanted to ‘make porn’.”

My friend said I wasn’t unique in having a blog as every sixteen-year-old and their dog has one. Some friend, right? (Love you, April!) I’ll pay that, but according to Gawker, blogging is an old person thing now.

Mick Foley is Good.

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.

Event: Girls Night In Dream Guests.

This year will be my first year hosting a Girls Night In event in the hopes of raising money to battle women’s cancers.

I’ve been planning to hold a supremely cheesy movie night (where Legally Blonde and Clueless are on the cards) for a while now, so I thought, why not raise money for cancer while we’re at it.

Those who I’ve actually invited know who you are, but in the spirit of raising awareness of female cancers, I thought I’d churn out a list of my ideal Girls Night In guests.

No Girls Night In would be complete without the hilariously self-deprecating musings of Mia Freedman. It’s true; any chance I could get to speak to Freedman face to face I will take, so of course she had to be at the very top of my list.

Next is my blog-crush, Girl with a Satchel’s Erica Bartle. I’ve said time and time again that Bartle’s blog was what inspired me to start my own, and I would love to pick her brain whilst chilling out with Cher & Co.

Rachel Hills’ Musings of an Inappropriate Woman is a fairly recent addition to my blogroll, but her insights into pop culture, feminism and sex would go down a treat with a glass of champers or two and some nibblies.

Ah, Gala Darling, where do I start? With her quirky personality and ever-changing hair colours, she would be the life of the party, and no doubt bring along some über-cool DVDs that no one else would’ve thought of.

I can’t include all my favourite bloggers and not include Sarah Ayoub of Wordsmith Lane. We seem to have a similar admiration for all the ladies listed above, and with a wedding on the horizon, I’m sure Sarah could use a bit of pampering.

Not many Scarlett Woman readers will be familiar with my next guest, but those of you who know me well won’t be surprise that I’ve included Stephanie McMahon on the list. Not only is she the daughter of World Wrestling Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon and wife of WWE Superstar Triple H (my favourite wrestler, BTW), but she is the Executive Vice President of Creative Development and Operations. At one point in my teenage angst years, I even claimed that McMahon had the life I wanted. So it’s only fitting that she be brought into the fold of women who have the lives I want now.

Sarah Jessica Parker has overstayed her welcome as Carrie perhaps a tad too long, judging from reactions to Sex & the City 2, however, I find Parker as a person fascinating and very normal. And in her honour, of course we would have to break out some Carrie fever in the form of the SATC box set.

Finally, provided she brings gifts from her fashion line and any number of her Hermes Birkin bags for us to caress, Victoria Beckham will be welcomed with open arms. I believe that, underneath it all, VB is a fairly normal person, with a tight reign of control over her public persona. I think everyone could learn a little something from Mrs Beckham.

And so concludes my dream guest list. I will be blogging about the actual event in a few weeks time, including the food, the flicks and, most importantly, how much we raised for the Cancer Council.

Related: Profile—Sarah Ayoub of Wordsmith Lane. 

Magazines: Vogue Schmogue—Why US Vogue Ain’t Everything it’s Cracked Up to Be.

 

Lately I’ve been thinking about the conglomerate that is US Vogue.

If The Devil Wears Prada is anything to go by, hundreds of thousands of dollars are wasted on ample, professionally decorated office space, shoots that will never make it into the magazine, catering and gifts to pander to the fickle fashion industry.

Sure, Vogue is the foremost fashion magazine the world turns to to see what’s hot and what’s not, so they can afford to be a bit hoity-toity, right?

Well have you looked at a copy of US Vogue lately? The last one I bought was earlier this year, when I got a bit caught up in the hype of Sex & the City 2, with the movie’s star, Sarah Jessica Parker, on the cover. What a waste of money: if I’ve ever felt buyers remorse over a magazine, it was then.

The only other copies I own of the US edition is Blake Lively’s first outing on the cover, and the Michelle Obama edition, for obvious historical/social/cultural reasons, and both were fairly lacklustre.

So why does the title command such attention and reverence in the fashion industry, when other mags like rivals Harper’s Bazaar and Elle, and quirkier titles like NYLON, clearly possess higher qualities of writing and, oftentimes, fashion. Blasphemous, I know, but someone had to say it.

Personally, I think it might be time to employ a new editor. Anna Wintour has been at the helm for twenty years, and perhaps she’s overstayed her welcome. Sure, there have been some great fashion shoots by the likes of Peter Lindbergh and Annie Leibovitz, but if that’s all the mag has to offer (most of which you can access online), what’s the point of buying it?

A recent interview with Vogue creative director, the flame haired right-hand woman to Wintour, Grace Coddington, in Australian Vogue, made me wonder if she isn’t better suited to the editorship. She has an impeccable eye for composition and a quirky touch, something which the über-polished and stony Wintour does not.

But perhaps we should be looking to a younger, fresher take on the magazine, hence, a younger, fresher editor. Coddington is pushing 70 and god knows how old the elusive Wintour is. (A Wikipedia search reveals she turns 61 on November 3, one day after my birthday, but I liked the way the previous sentence sounds!) The staleness of the brand is evidenced by the same old cover girls, Lively, Sienna Miller (who fronted last year’s September issue) and Keira Knightly, actresses whom nobody really cares all that much about. The magazine’s effort to inject some much needed diversity saw the boring Halle Berry take the September issue’s cover, the first black woman to front it since Naomi Campbell in 1989! (Somewhat of a token gesture, perhaps?) Carey Mulligan is on the October cover, and while she’s definitely a step away from the usual Vogue-ette, she’s still a bit of a yawnfest.

Magazine retailer mag nation also laments the September issue, in that it is really the only popular edition of the title all year, and in order to make sure they have enough stock come August, they become overstocked with issues consumers don’t want because of three-monthly ordering increments.

While there’s no doubt US Vogue will always hold a spot on the newsstand, it seems as though today’s Vogue is a mere shadow of what the brand once was. A nice token, but if you’re looking for style and substance in your magazine, try Marie Claire.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Vogue Might Just Be Culturally Relevant Again.

[mag nation] Why is The September Issue a Big Deal?

Book Review: Sex & the City 2 Coffee Table Book.

Okay, so this tome is not exactly heavy on the text, but it certainly is heavy on the fashion, friends and film sets featured in the movie.

If you hated the movie (which you can read about here, here and here) like 80% of viewers, I would still recommend getting your hands on this book. The layouts are beautiful, every one of Carrie’s outfits is broken down with commentary by Sarah Jessica Parker and, my favourite aspect of the movie by far, the work that went into the set designs is fascinating.

And if you’re a fan of the series, fashion, or film in general, it is definitely worth checking out.

I’ve done all the hard work for you, so here’s a sneaky peek(y) at the book.

What They Wore

While I lamented in my earlier review of the movie that the fashions were a bit lacklustre, I have to argue, after reading this book, that the accessories are what really pushed SATC2 over the edge from mediocre to sartorial saviour. The vintage jewellery, especially, makes me glad I’m going to The Way We Wear vintage market next weekend in Williamstown, Melbourne, to pick some up for myself.

 

 

 

 

 Sets & the City

A lot of the movies I like aren’t exactly Oscar winning (more like Razzie winning; ie. 27 Dresses and Suddenly 30), but it’s the scenery they evoke that piques my interest. In that respect, SATC2 really raised the bar.

 

Stay tuned for a SATC(1) retrospective.