TV: Gossip Girl Thinks Bloggers Aren’t Good Enough.

 

When Serena feels backed into a corner by Gossip Girl and has to defend herself by penning her own blog at the typically British-named Diana’s (played by Warney’s squeeze Liz Hurley) New York Spectator, Blair harangues her, saying, “I’ve always thought you were too good to blog.” Thanks Blair; great to know where we stand.

But Blair’s is not a unique viewpoint: traditional forms of information gathering and sharing view blogging as the black sheep of the family. Because seemingly anyone can run a blog (though not everyone can run a good blog), those who excel in their field are sometimes deemed not as worthy of acceptance and recognition as those in conventional or “old” media, who rose up the ranks the old fashioned way. We all know one bad blogger can give the rest of us a bad name.

It wasn’t just Serena and her overt blogging dilemma that was relevant to budding online wordsmiths. When Dan freaks out that his book, Inside, has dropped from number nine on the New York Times Bestseller list last week, to completely off the chart this week, and forgoes his book touring commitments, trust old Rufus gives him a pep talk:

“It just takes one person to connect with your art, who feels like you directly communicated with them, to start a groundswell. But you can’t connect with that person unless you show up.”

So, disheartened bloggers, if your blog’s not bringing in the hits yet, just you wait: provided the content’s good (and even if it’s not!), it’s only a matter of time before you start a groundswell of your own. Now I’ve just got to remember that myself…

Related: The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

Image via Home of the Nutty.

12 Posts of Christmas: The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

In the spirit Christmas, I’ve decided to revisit some of my favourite posts of the year in the twelve days leading up to December 25th.

I thought I’d take this Serena van der Woodsen-opportunity to talk about what a spoiled brat she was on last night’s episode (you can read about what a spoiled brat she is in general below, and in the original post here.)

When a friend releases their first book to such fanfare as Dan did last night, you should be happy for them, right? Even if one of the characters is semi-based on you, and perhaps doesn’t portray you in the best light, Dan was adamant that Inside is only loosely autobiographical and amplifies Serena, Blair et al’s worst qualities to make it a scandalous and best-selling novel.

But, of course, Serena thinks it’s all about her, all the time, and has a big cry because Dan wrote her character as a selfish, vapid, flighty and irresponsible Upper East Side princess, which she kind of is. She’s so blinded by her anger that she can’t be happy for Dan’s success, worried for Blair’s portrayal and her relationship with Dan and what it might mean for her engagement to Louis, or saddened by Chuck’s character’s death by asphyxiation in the book. Talk about a bonfire of the vanity!

She’s got the clothes, the hair, and she’s mighty fine to look at. But that’s about all Gossip Girl’s Serena van der Woodsen boils down to.

I really liked Serena in season one of the show. I could relate to her because everyone thought she was this spoiled, vapid princess, but she showed her true self to her first love Dan Humphrey.

By the end of season two, she’d stopped evolving, though, and it turns out she was just a spoiled, vapid princess, intent on upstaging Blair Waldorf at every opportunity, stringing a multitude of guys along, and having her antics and dirty laundry on the cover of all the tabloids.

Like in the Cecily von Ziegesar (she made an appearance in last night’s final, telling Serena she’d “read a lot about her”) novels of the same name, Serena is the central protagonist of Gossip Girl. But unlike the books, the show has run with Blair and Chuck Bass in the driver’s seat; characters who have grown, changed and become more likeable as a result. Serena, along with her male counterpart Nate Archibald, followed closely by Dan, has remained a stagnant shell of a human being, like the kinds you overhear on the tram and thank God you don’t know them or, worse, aren’t like them.

There have been many a fan disappointed in and perturbed by Serena’s lack of development. Why has she languished in and regressed to the mindset of a highschooler, albeit with better clothes, more freedom and a more active sex life? Is she just “coasting on cuteness”? Most of her storylines seem to revolve around her busting her bust out in an evening gown or standing around looking bored and Amazonian-like. Just because she looks the way she does, doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be as well written as Gossip Girl’s other characters. In real life, how many of this type of woman do you know? Personally, I don’t associate myself with people with no personalities, who’ll turn on their besties for a taste of the spotlight, and who have no opinions save for what outfit they’re going to wear that day, so I don’t know anyone with the personality of a napkin Serena van der Woodsen.

But, let’s face it, Gossip Girl isn’t exactly a realistic interpretation of life. 20-year-olds don’t flit around the city unemployed, never wearing the same outfit twice, depending on Mummy and Daddy’s trust funds. And if they do, then that’s a reality I’m glad I’m not a part of.

This unreality and lack of character development makes the audience not care about Serena’s storylines. Personally, I loved the Juliet/Ben/Serena storyline, but it was because of the mystery surrounding who Juliet and Ben actually were and what their connection to Serena was, not because of Serena. And the latest development in the character’s tumultuous yet über-boring life leads me to make comparisons to the actress who portrays her, Blake Lively’s, life.

I remember when Gossip Girl first came out, Lively said in an interview that she was very low-key, didn’t like to go out to events and preferred to stay home and work on her Martha Stewart skills.

Flashforward four years and Lively’s oft-papped lifestyle is far from the one she naively spoke about. She’s Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour’s muse, flitting from one European country to the next to attend fashion shows and sun herself on yachts. Not to mention her latest nude photo scandal.

While her acting’s not anything to write home about, Lively still has much more to offer than naked pics and Chanel ads. I just hope that it isn’t a case of life imitating art when it comes to Blake Lively and Serena van der Woodsen.

Related: The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

The Beautiful & Damned: Serena Settles for Second Best.

Gossip Girl Season 4 Final.

Who Speculates About Domestic Violence in the Affleck/Garner Household.

Picture Perfect.

So Misunderstood.

Breaking the Mould.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Is Kate Hudson Coasting on Cuteness?

Image via VideoBB.

Why Young Feminists Still Have “A Long, Long Way To Go” in the Eyes of Second-Wave Feminists.

Last week I wrote about the Melbourne Writers’ Festival event, entitled A Long, Long Way to Go: Why We Still Need Feminism, presented by Sophie Cunningham and Monica Dux.

On the whole, Cunningham’s presentation was thought-provoking, if a little small-minded, but my main point of contention is as follows.

Cunningham brought up third/fourth wave feminism (the feminism we’re experiencing now, by most accounts), saying that while she applauds the grassroots feminist movements such as SlutWalk, she wasn’t sure 25-year-old women could fully understand the concept of feminism because they still have men fawning all over them at that age.

Now that’s just a whole lot of wrong.

First of all, I am soon-to-be-24 and I don’t have men falling at my feet (well, except when it’s unwanted), and nor do my similarly-aged friends.

Secondly, who’s to say that even if we did, we wouldn’t recognise that, unless they had had some kind of interaction with us other than staring at our boobs, they were interested in us purely for our looks, and that’s anti-feminist. (Then again, I know girls who do have men fawning all over them purely for their looks and couldn’t care less.)

And thirdly, this kind of feminism in fighting is exactly what has been undoing the feminist movement in recent years. As I wrote:

“… Cunningham saw a sort of ‘bottleneck’ in modern feminism, where white, privileged feminists like myself don’t understand the problems facing feminists of colour, feminists with sexual orientation other than straight, feminists with gender other than cis, and feminists with disabilities…”

This is not to mention conflict between the ages, or waves, of feminism.

In Susan Faludi’s attempted takedown of young feminists in her article, “American Electra: Feminism’s Ritual Matricide”, last year, she writes:

“… Despite its [feminism’s] many victories, it seems to falter along a ‘mother–daughter’ divide. A generational breakdown underlies so many of the pathologies that have long disturbed American [or, rather, Western] feminism—… its bitter divisions over sex… [and] alongside the battle of the sexes rages the battle of the ages.”

I can’t think of a better example than, oddly enough, an episode of Gossip Girl from its most recent season, in which it addresses the clash between young and old feminists after Serena van der Woodsen is accused of having an STD. Her dean at Columbia University tells her:

“Women of my generation had to fight for every opportunity. And to be taken seriously, and your attitude, Miss van der Woodsen, makes a mockery of that.”

I wrote in response at the time, in reference to Faludi’s article:

“Now if that isn’t the second wave looking down upon the third wave for our apparent flippancy about ‘activism’, our ‘obsession with technology’ (Gossip Girl’s blasts are a prime example of this), our ‘unwilling[ness] to challenge sexual exploitation for fear of pissing off men’ (hello, Serena), and our infatuation with Lady Gaga (well, Gossip Girl did feature the Lady herself in an episode…), I don’t know what is.

“… It would be interesting to see Serena fight back and declare herself ‘sick to death of hearing about the glory days of Seventies feminism’, whilst older women, like Dean Reuther, ‘declaring themselves sick to death of being swept into the dustbin of history.’

“Faludi spends a lot of time criticising (via her second wave subjects) the technology third wavers use, specifically blogging: ‘All they want to do is sit at their computers and blog.’ Ouch.

“I’m sure Gossip Girl would have something to say about that.”

Exhibit A: SlutWalk as an anti-testament to Faludi’s assertion.

Could it be jealousy these second-wavers are suffering from? I’d like to think feminism is above that, but it is one of the seven deadly sins and can get the better of us. Contrary to what Cunningham said, I don’t think it’s because of the way we look. Everyone knows age is not a precursor to looking hot. I think second-wavers might long for their glory days of making things happen, being invigorated and excited by feminism, instead of seeing their options shrivel up and die the older they get. Again, please see exhibit A. While I don’t know the ages of those who were critical of the SlutWalk, but if they were older it might be easy to see why they were a bit miffed by the anti-slut-shaming and -victim-blaming movement that they felt left them behind.

There needs to be something done to rectify this. Not only the gap between the ages, but the gap between the races, the abilities, the genders and the sexual orientations.

I don’t pretend to know how we’re going to do this, but it will have to start with listening and understanding, empathy, perhaps some mentoring and—what feminism is all about, not just between the sexes, but between all those I mention above—equality.

Related: Melbourne Writers’ Festival: A Long, Long Way to Go—Why We Still Need Feminism.

Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Slutty Stride.

The Taboos of Sexual Harassment.

Will Boys Be Boys When it Comes to Objectifying Women?

Surfing the Third Wave: Second-Wave VS. Third-Wave Feminism on Gossip Girl.

Elsewhere: [Harper’s Magazine] American Electra: Feminism’s Ritual Matricide.

TV: The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

 

She’s got the clothes, the hair, and she’s mighty fine to look at. But that’s about all Gossip Girl’s Serena van der Woodsen boils down to.

I really liked Serena in season one of the show. I could relate to her because everyone thought she was this spoiled, vapid princess, but she showed her true self to her first love Dan Humphrey.

By the end of season two, she’d stopped evolving, though, and it turns out she was just a spoiled, vapid princess, intent on upstaging Blair Waldorf at every opportunity, stringing a multitude of guys along, and having her antics and dirty laundry on the cover of all the tabloids.

Like in the Cecily von Ziegesar (she made an appearance in last night’s final, telling Serena she’d “read a lot about her”) novels of the same name, Serena is the central protagonist of Gossip Girl. But unlike the books, the show has run with Blair and Chuck Bass in the driver’s seat; characters who have grown, changed and become more likeable as a result. Serena, along with her male counterpart Nate Archibald, followed closely by Dan, has remained a stagnant shell of a human being, like the kinds you overhear on the tram and thank God you don’t know them or, worse, aren’t like them.

There have been many a fan disappointed in and perturbed by Serena’s lack of development. Why has she languished in and regressed to the mindset of a highschooler, albeit with better clothes, more freedom and a more active sex life? Is she just “coasting on cuteness”? Most of her storylines seem to revolve around her busting her bust out in an evening gown or standing around looking bored and Amazonian-like. Just because she looks the way she does, doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be as well written as Gossip Girl’s other characters. In real life, how many of this type of woman do you know? Personally, I don’t associate myself with people with no personalities, who’ll turn on their besties for a taste of the spotlight, and who have no opinions save for what outfit they’re going to wear that day, so I don’t know anyone with the personality of a napkin Serena van der Woodsen.

But, let’s face it, Gossip Girl isn’t exactly a realistic interpretation of life. 20-year-olds don’t flit around the city unemployed, never wearing the same outfit twice, depending on Mummy and Daddy’s trust funds. And if they do, then that’s a reality I’m glad I’m not a part of.

This unreality and lack of character development makes the audience not care about Serena’s storylines. Personally, I loved the Juliet/Ben/Serena storyline, but it was because of the mystery surrounding who Juliet and Ben actually were and what their connection to Serena was, not because of Serena. And the latest development in the character’s tumultuous yet über-boring life leads me to make comparisons to the actress who portrays her, Blake Lively’s, life.

I remember when Gossip Girl first came out, Lively said in an interview that she was very low-key, didn’t like to go out to events and preferred to stay home and work on her Martha Stewart skills.

Flashforward four years and Lively’s oft-papped lifestyle is far from the one she naively spoke about. She’s Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour’s muse, flitting from one European country to the next to attend fashion shows and sun herself on yachts. Not to mention her latest nude photo scandal.

While her acting’s not anything to write home about, Lively still has much more to offer than naked pics and Chanel ads. I just hope that it isn’t a case of life imitating art when it comes to Blake Lively and Serena van der Woodsen.

Related: The Beautiful & Damned: Serena Settles for Second Best.

Who Speculates About Domestic Violence in the Affleck/Garner Household.

Picture Perfect.

So Misunderstood.

Breaking the Mould.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Is Kate Hudson Coasting on Cuteness?

Images via Gossip Girl Fashion, Link Random, Fashion Under 100.

TV: The Beautiful & Damned—Serena Settles for Second Best.

 

Blake Lively’s had no problem keeping herself in the news since Gossip Girl finished for the year.

She’s allegedly dating Leonardo DiCaprio, her apparent naked body is all over the tabloids, and her biggest movie to date, The Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds, is pending release.

She met DiCaprio through Baz Luhrmann, who’s directing the Titanic star in his adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, a movie for which Lively was in the running to play Daisy Buchanan, a role that went to English rose Carey Mulligan.

In the season final of Gossip Girl Lively’s character, Serena van der Woodsen, is told by her former high school headmistress that she’s disappointed Serena didn’t leave New York City to go to college, and find her identity away from the pull of the city. This prompts her to finally make a choice between Dan and Nate, which was one of the cliffhangers of last season’s final.

Serena ends up choosing herself, which is commendable for a character who can never be alone and always needs the spotlight on her. But it seems like choosing herself is her second third best option, as both Dan and Nate have moved on from Serena.

Much like Serena’s apparent screenwriting job for the latest movie adaptation of The Beautiful & Damned in the final is second choice to Lively’s Great Gatsby aspirations.

As Fitzgerald writes in his most famous work:

“… All the time something within her was crying for a decision. She wanted her life shaped now, immediately…”

Maybe Lively isn’t such a bad choice to play Daisy after all…

Related: Gossip Girl Season 4 Final.

Who Speculates About Domestic Violence in the Affleck/Garner Household.

Pretty But Dumb: Serena’s Tertiary Education Predicament.

Surfing the Third Wave: Second Wave VS. Third Wave Feminism on Gossip Girl.

Images via MegaVideo.

TV: Gossip Girl Season 4 Final.

Last week’s episode, where Russell Thorpe lured Blair to the roof of Chuck’s hotel in a payback attempt at Chuck, was a better storyline than the finale’s with Chuck saving Blair, them sleeping together, Blair trying to tell her prince of Monaco fiancé that she can’t be with him because she still loves Chuck, and Chuck butting in to tell Louis that he and Blair have his blessing, as he realises Blair’s a better person with Louis.

Or Charlie faking a psychotic break, attempting to jump from the top floor window of the GG brat pack’s former “stomping ground” in Serena’s cotillion dress, being talked down by Serena, who says it’s not as easy being her as people think, Georgina accosting Charlie, whom she believes isn’t really on medication for a psychological disorder, and giving Charlie her phone number to use if she’s ever back in the city. Turns out Georgina was right, and Charlie is actually revealed to be Ivy, who posed as Serena’s cousin to extort money from her trust fund, at the request of Lily’s sister, Carol.

Or Vanessa stumbling across Dan’s manuscript, which she thinks is the best exposé “on the Upper East Side since Bonfire of the Vanities”. When Dan tells her to leave his stuff alone and get out of his life, I’m not sure he meant for Vanessa to steal the manuscript, pitch it to a publishing house, and hightail it to Barcelona.

Or Darota cleaning Blair and Serena’s adjoining bathroom, in which a positive pregnancy test has been discarded.

Now the latter three story arcs are intriguing, I’ll give them that, but the writers did a piss-poor job in making the audience actually care about them. The Charlie thing was really hard to follow, and the fact that her character is almost as infuriating as Vanessa’s doesn’t lend itself to viewer satisfaction.

It’s pretty easy to see that Charlie/Ivy’s going to return to the Upper East Side to wreak havoc with fellow bad girl Georgina. Blair’s the one who’s pregnant, probably to Chuck. And so their relationship is dragged on for another season. Dan will flail around while Vanessa milks him for all he’s worth and Serena will give up her potential screenwriting job (more on that later) on the West Coast to return to the city where she left her heart. Or something.

Related: The Devil Works at W: Gossip Girl “Damien Darko” Review.

Come Together Right Now… Over Gossip Girl: “Gaslit” Review.

Let Them Eat Cake… And Wear Headbands.

Gossip Girl Proves There’s No Such Thing as Wonder Woman.

Sexual Healing: Gossip Girl Takes a Page Out of John Irving’s Book.

Pretty But Dumb: Serena’s Tertiary Education Predicament.

Surfing the Third Wave: Second Wave VS. Third Wave Feminism on Gossip Girl.

The Last Tango… For the Season: Gossip Girl Season 3 Final.

Images via MegaVideo.

TV: Come Together Right Now… Over Gossip Girl—“Gaslit” Review.

 

Gossip Girl’s Thanksgiving episodes are always ones to remember.

Season one hosted the first instalment without a voiceover from Gossip Girl herself, Kristen Bell. And last year’s episode dealt with the fallout from Dan, Vanessa and Hilary Duff’s threesome and Lily’s whereabouts the past summer.

However, this year’s holiday chapter fell short of expectations, with it’s surrounding episodes being much juicier. Last week, the vixen Juliet drugged Serena and turned all her friends against her, while Juliet’s beef with the Manhattan socialite is finally revealed.

But “Gaslit” did serve two main purposes, both of which are very promising:

1. Vanessa comes undone and her involvement in Operation Takedown Serena comes out, forcing her out of the city. Ding dong, Vanessa’s dead!

and

2. Blair and Dan join forced to find out what Juliet really wants with Serena. Whilst the two have never been shy about their hatred for one another, as winter passes, perhaps a new-found “appreciation” for each other will blossom along with spring…

xoxo

Related: Let Them Eat Cake… And Wear Headbands.

Gossip Girl Proves There’s No Such Thing As Wonder Woman.

Sexual Healing: Gossip Girl Takes a Page Out of John Irving’s Book.

Pretty But Dumb: Serena’s Tertiary Education Predicament.

Surfing the Third Wave: Second Wave VS. Third Wave Feminism on Gossip Girl.

The Last Tango… For the Season. Gossip Girl Season 3 Final.