12 Trends of 2012.

Girls (Who Run the World).

girls

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.

snow white kristen stewart

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.

Movie Review: Mirror Mirror*.

I’ll be honest: I didn’t have high hopes for Mirror Mirror, what could have been a fantastic feminist take (girl saves boy; a commentary on beauty) on the classic Snow White tale but ended up being an offensive Disney-esque been-there, done-that effort.

Actually, Mirror Mirror did incorporate some of the abovementioned themes, but not in the ways I would have liked.

Firstly, let’s start with beauty. As an older woman, Julia Roberts’ character, the Queen, believes the only way she’ll make an impression as an older woman on the newly discovered Prince Alcott (the delectable Armie Hammer) is to up the ante on her beauty regime, which includes bees stinging her lips and bird poo being massaged into her face. This is not unlike what many women do on a regular basis, but I didn’t put two and two together until later in the film, when Snow White is about to kiss the Prince to break the puppy love-for-the-Queen spell he’s under. One of her seven dwarf-bandit comrades, Napoleon, thinks she needs a bit of sprucing up before her first kiss. The message here is not only that, clearly, older women need to do more to their bodies and faces in order to compete with younger women and stay relevant, but that something along those lines also applies to younger women. If you’re engaging in intimate acts with a member of the opposite sex, you need to look and act a certain way. It seeks to cement the notion that beauty is the main virtue a woman can have. If she doesn’t have it, she’s deemed worthless. If she does, like Lily Collins’ Snow, she’s got to work even harder to maintain it and play it up.

This confining notion of beauty is also represented in the seven dwarves, who were banished from the village by the Queen for being “ugly” and “undesirable”. The film could have run with the whole non-able-bodied-people-being-excluded-from-everyday-able-bodied-society angle, but instead that was pretty much the last thing we heard about that.

There was a lot of emphasis on the Queen being “crazy” and “mad” because she clawed her way to the top and would do anything to stay there, including poisoning the Prince in order for him to fall in love with her. When Snow decides to run away from her castle prison and join the dwarves, and Prince Alcott discovers this he, too, calls her “crazy” and “mad”. So standing up for what you believe in, whether that is something that other people think is a noble pursuit or not, makes you crazy. Oh, clarification: this only applies if you’re female.

Because you won’t be taken seriously by your male nemesis if you deign to step outside the boundaries set for you by the patriarchy, don’t you know? When Prince Alcott is confronted with the militant Snow White, he refuses to “fight a girl”, much less one that also “throws like a girl” and whom he would kiss if she wasn’t trying to kill him. The Prince takes to spanking Snow with his sword as they engage in combat, which was a confusing amalgamation of offensiveness and sexiness. I mean, I wouldn’t say no to a spanking from Armie Hammer, but in a movie seemingly geared towards children with a superficial pro-heroine stance, I don’t think it was entirely appropriate nor crucial to the story.

Finally, let’s look at domestic violence and animal abuse. When the Prince is under the puppy love spell and captured by Snow and the dwarves for torture, he claims his “only pain is being absent from my wife[-to-be]”, who doesn’t treat him so well in the first place. That he’s essentially a dog in this scene makes a certain point about animal cruelty, I think: that no matter how badly you treat a dog, as man’s best friend, they’ll always come back to you. Much like battered-wife syndrome, wouldn’t you say?

On that, when one of the dwarves tries to claim that Prince Alcott is clearly in love with Snow, and another exclaims, “He tried to kill her today!” the defence is, “Of course! What do you think love is?” That kind of “love” is dubious at best.

And so was this movie.

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Image via YouTube, IMDb.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Ashley Judd slaps down body- (and face-) shamers. [Daily Beast]

A fictional tale (though a very realistic one) of what it’s like to promise your purity to your dad. [Jezebel]

So Tony Abbott’s sister is gay. Now what? [MamaMia]

Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton et al: don’t hate the player, hate the game. [Daily Life]

Republicans aren’t the only ones making jokes at the ladies’ expense. Obama does it too :( [Jezebel]

The Hunger Games killed it at the box office because Katniss Everdeen was portrayed as a subject as opposed to a “Fighting Fuck Toy”. [Ms. Magazine]

Following on from last week’s Rachel Hills asexuality article, Rachel Rabbit White on “graysexuality”:

“… ‘But sex itself is just a set of physical activities, it’s easy to imagine someone who’s not into them once you take all the symbolism away.’

“Sex positivity works to broaden our understanding of what sex is (e.g., not just penis in vagina, but body part + body part = pleasure). But what if we also set out to broaden our understanding of intimacy—intimacy is not just sex, but also…—perhaps a new picture would unfold. One where people realize they don’t need to have sex when what they want is intimacy. One where, maybe, there would be a little more gray in our sex-drives.” [Jezebel]

An interesting take on all the Snow White reboots. [io9]

What it’s like to be a guy who reads (or read) Judy Blume. [Jezebel]

Women don’t hate other women for being beautiful. They hate them for having delusions of grandeur, like Samantha Brick. [MamaMia]

Mia Freedman interviews Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg about Matthew Newton. Carr-Gregg seems to think we need to reexamine our views around mental illness and give Newton a fair go. Um, the kid’s been charged three times in the past year and beats up people on a regular basis. I’d say he’s been more than given a fair go. What do you think? [MamaMia]

Image via MSNBC.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

“In Defence of the Short-Haired Woman”:

“I think… that a lot of men believe they prefer long hair—and wrong in that when it comes down to it, they don’t actually care all that much.

“I’m sure there are plenty of straight men who truly, inherently prefer long hair on women. But in my experience, the bulk of straight men who default to liking long hair on women just like women.” [Jezebel, via The Beheld]

Beauty truly comes from within. [MamaMia]

How guys really feel about going down on us. One question: where can I find this guy?!

“What I think is ‘holy shit is this hot!’ I notice the varieties in taste during certain parts of a girl’s cycle. It tastes sort of tart right after her period ends, gets musky around ovulation and then has full blown feminine sex scent right before her period. I loved doing it from the first time I tried it. In fact, I came without touching myself the first time I went down on a girl. There is no learning to like it. Heck, it puts me even closer to pussy than fucking does. How could a guy who likes girls possibly not like it. Overall it’s my favorite sexual experience. You don’t have the pressure of ‘fuck if I get too into this I’m going to cum too soon and disappoint her but if I hold off and take forever to cum I’m going to end up boring her/making her sore/making her think I’m not that into it’ that you get from intercourse. You just to get to dive into the best smell and taste in the world and be there until you see, feel, hear and taste her having an orgasm. It’s a powerful feeling. I think oral sex is awesome and the best form of contraception mankind has ever come up with. Same great orgasms, no risk of changing diapers down the line.” [Jezebel]

Harrowing TV birth scenes as contraceptives. [NYTimes]

It’s not just the Disney princesses we need to worry about. It’s the princes, too. [Sociological Images]

Why are the new Snow White movies so… white?

“The filmmakers missed a chance to bring a truly new perspective to the story by integrating it. Snow White is a made-up story, taking place in a made-up land. Why can’t the handsome prince be black? Why can’t the queen be black? There seems to be an Asian dwarf in the Mirror Mirror project, but none of the major characters in either film are of colour.” [Jezebel]

The woman used as a reason to commit adultery by cheating website Ashley Madison speaks out:

“There is an enormous problem in this world in regards to female body shaming, and not solely in regard to fat women, but all women. A size 2 woman who sees this ad sees the message: ‘If I don’t stay small, he will cheat’. A size 12 woman might see this ad and think “if I don’t lose 30lbs, he will cheat”. A size 32 woman could see this ad, and feel ‘I will never find love’. It’s horrific. Not all women are necessarily insecure, but it’s no secret that body insecurity is endemic, regardless of size. This kind of message is extremely damaging to self worth. Eating disorders may have lost their place in the media spotlight, but continue to effect people of all ages, especially teens. This sort of behavior can easily be triggered from the careless cruelty of advertisements like the one in question.” [Jezebel]

10 other things that should be worthy of “Personhood”. [Jezebel]

The history of Ms. magazine. [New York Magazine]

Eve Ensler is over rape jokes and Facebook pages. [HuffPo]

Images via Jezebel, Sociological Images.

Attack of the Three-Dimensional Disney Character.

So there’s the vanilla damsels in distress of early Disney films, like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. And there’s the first independent princess, Belle, “who enjoyed reading and learning, and who lived her life according to her standards”.

But there’s a new kind of three dimensional Disney character, in the form of the villain.

Now, The Beast from Beauty & the Beast isn’t exactly new (he’s pushing 20 years old), but seeing the process the Disney animators went through to create him in Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney’s Classic Fairytales (there’s also some featurettes on the DVD, which has been re-released from the vault) reveals just how complex a character he is.

Incorporating features from a buffalo, bear, gorilla, lion, boar and wolf, but with gentle cows ears, ensures The Beast doesn’t come across as completely horrible.

Both in the exhibition and in the curator’s talk I attended, it was mentioned that despite his ugly exterior, the Beast had to have attributes (both physicalthe aforementioned cows ears, and blue eyesand personality-wise) that a beautiful woman of Belle’s integrity, intelligence and courage could fall in love with. (It could be argued that there are some classic abusive relationship markers in Belle and the Beast’s union, but more to come on that next week.)

Elsewhere, in the upcoming Tangled, which is also featured in Dreams Come True, Mother Gothel, Rapunzel’s keeper, is the movie’s villain. However, she and Rapunzel share a more complicated relationship than that of Snow White and the Evil Queen, Cinderella and her evil stepmother, or Aurora and Maleficent (whose appearance was based on Katharine Hepburn, FYI), in that the animators wanted Mother Gothel to be “believable for Rapunzel to love”. God knows I’ve had my fair share of love-hate with my mother, so I think this movie will be quite relatable in that respect.

Can’t wait to see it in January!

Related: You Can Ring My Belle.

Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Female Characters Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

Elsewhere: [Overthinking It] Why Strong Female Characters Are Bad for Women.

[Overthinking It] Why Weak Male Characters Are Bad for Women.

Drug of Choice: The Disney Heroine.

Last weekend’s The Age supplement, A2, was jammed packed full of goodness , including a feature on the recent spate of fairytale-inspired exhibitions.

One of the exhibitions talked about in the article is the Bendigo Art Gallery’s “Looking for Faeries: The Victorian Tradition”, which I saw yesterday, and ACMI’s “Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney’s Classic Fairy Tales”, about the fairytales adapted for the screen by Walt Disney, with the groundbreaking (for the time) Snow White & the Seven Dwarves being a key component.

As you know, I can’t get enough of my Disney princesses, especially the constant discourse surrounding their affect on young girls, so this passage from the article took my fancy:

“In the past, and particularly in the 1950s, Disney fairytale heroes and, above all, heroines, were insubstantial figures, despite their predicaments, and energy and comedy were provided by the sidekicksthe dwarves in Snow White, for example. You can see a change in 1991’s witty, thoroughly engaging Beauty & the Beast: Belle was a more dynamic heroine than Snow White, and there was a character in the film who thought he was a handsome prince, but definitely wasn’tthe vain and vicious Gaston.

“[Tangled producer Roy] Conli credits John Lasseter, producer, director and chief creative officer at Disney/Pixar, for an insistence that central characters have to be the emotional and the comic core of a film. So, Rapunzel, the girl with 20 metres of blonde hairwho has been shut up in a tower her whole life, or, “like, grounded, like, forever”isn’t simply set free, end of story. In Tangled, she has a male counterpart, a foil, he says, a worldly, dashing thief called Flynn Rider whose adventure of discovery takes place alongside hers.

“… Whatever we make of these new fairytale dynamics, whether we regard them as retrograde or progressive, misguided or inventive… fairytales are often more appealing to adults than children.”

Perhaps that’s why I still can’t get enough of Belle… and it’s nice to see a modern-day Rapunzel adopting, like, a modern-day vernacular.

Related: Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

Elsewhere: [Bendigo Art Gallery] Looking for Faeries: The Victorian Tradition.

[Australian Centre for the Moving Image] Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney’s Classic Fairy Tales.