On the (Rest of the) Net: Galentine’s Day Edition.

vintage sexist valentines day card

Vintage Valentines Day cards that glorify intimate partner violence. [Sociological Images]

The Stella Prize’s 2014 longlist is out and the Australian Women Writers Challenge has a compilation of reviews of the finalist, including two of mine.

Woody Allen responds to the 20-year-old accusations that he molested his daughter, while Vanity Fair has 10 facts from the case that put the he said, she said in perspective. [NYTimes]

Down syndrome on Ryan Murphy and Brad Fulchuck’s Glee and American Horror Story. [Bitch Flicks]

Marnie’s pretty girl problems. (Also this.) [LA Review of Books]

TV: Gossip Girl Becomes Even More Irrelevant in Its Final Season.

Gossip Girl premiered its sixth and final season in the States two weeks ago and it’s being fast-tracked to Fox8 in Australia like so many U.S. shows are these days (I can’t keep up!). While its finale is a long time coming and I’ll always be nostalgic for the good old days of GG (seasons one and four were probably my favourites), I think Gossip Girl has finally lost the plot.

Last season’s finale seemed to juxtapose where all the characters started out with where they might end up, and fans held out hope that the show would return to its soapie-scandalous roots with Dan wreacking revenge on the Upper East Side, Serena being the lost cause that inevitably rears its head at least once per year, and Blair and Chuck teaming up to drag everyone down with them, namely the traitorous Bart and Lily.

Two episodes in and the season’s not starting off as strong as it could have, and Dan’s struggling to avenge the wrongs he feels he’s been handed by his socialite set of former friends and lovers. Partner-in-crime Georgina spent last week’s episode arranging meetings with all the major New York publications—New York, The Nation, Vanity Fair et al—but Dan instead opts to publish his exposé in serial form in Nate’s Spectator, a fledgling newspaper that’s struggling after Nate let the “who is Gossip Girl” scoop go in exchange for finding Serena.

Seriously?! I mean, despite the fact that The Spectator is a new newspaper in a sea of old-media extinctions run by a presumably not-even-21-year-old that relies on unmasking a high school blogger to sell copies, channelling Dominic Dunne, who rose to fame with his Vanity Fair pieces on crime and justice for the rich and famous in the ’80s, Dan is barking up the wrong tree in trying to get “the memoir he should have written” serialised in a magazine, only highlights the show’s irrelevance.

Georgina opines that once they can get a magazine to bite, in will roll the money, fame and movie rights. Um, hello, blogs are where it’s at these days. Look at all the Tumblrs and Twitter accounts that now have books, TV shows and movies based on them: Suri’s Burn Book, Fuck! I’m in my 20s, Shit My Dad Says, The Social Network, Stuff White People Like, The Sartorialist… I could go on forever. We know Dan did the whole book-to-movie deal, Rufus crapped on about “creating a groundswell” by word-of-mouth, and Serena tried her hand at blogging last season, but if Gossip Girl wants to “move on” from high school and debut in the adult world, as Serena so desperately desires, she’d better stop living in the first half of last decade.

Sage, Serena’s boyfriend Steven’s 17-year-old daughter and Nate’s new girlfriend (phew!), perhaps puts it best when she said, “Nobody in high school reads Gossip Girl. It’s for old people.” Or people who just can’t move on from the way things used to be.

Related: Gossip Girl Season 5 Final—What Goes Around Comes Around…

Is Serena Our Generation’s Dominic Dunne?

Gossip Girl Thinks Bloggers Aren’t Good Enough.

Image via YouTube.

Books: Stacked.

The other day a friend asked me how I “prioritise my stack” of books, and I thought it might make an interesting blog post, if only so I can navel-gaze at the books, magazines and articles piling up on my bedside table and bookshelf as opposed to offering any valuable insight into how I get through them.

’Cause the answer is, there is no system to getting through them. If anything, more books, magazines and articles are added to the piles than what is taken away from them and filed neatly in the bookshelf or recycling bin.

My friends often tease me ’cause it usually takes me several months to get through a book. The book I’m currently on, My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skyler Rampike by Joyce Carol Oates, I started over two months ago! I try to put away a few chapters each night, but this is in addition to the probably 500 other pages of content I read per week. Blogs, magazines, articles. If you ask me, that’s a pretty good effort. I wonder how many of the haters get through a 500 page book per week :P.

My love of taking in anything and everything in the feminist blogosphere is both a blessing and a curse. I love that there’s always new content and I’m always being informed, but at the same time, it would be so easy to just curl up in bed with a good book and turn my brain off for a few hours. Then again, if I really wanted to turn my brain off, I’d carve out a nook in the couch and flick through channels all night. And who has time for that?

Currently in my book stack, I have three books that were gifts from my birthday last year, and winning a worst dressed contest (Fables comic book, The Big Book of Small Business and Self-Publishing for Dummies); three that are borrowed (Walt Disney’s biography by Neal Gabler, Russell Brand’s second memoir and Kristin Chenoweth’s autobiography); two I bought from Amazon in January (Marilyn Monroe’s Fragments and Sloane Crosley’s second book of essays, How Did You Get This Number?); and the rest (The Night Listener and Maybe the Moon by Armistead Maupin, Brock Lesnar’s Death Clutch, Less Than Zero and Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis, Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile) I’ve bought in recent months, mostly secondhand.

And the magazines and article stack, which is a complete eyesore on my bedside table, consists of several Vanity Fair’s, some Monthly’s and… to be honest, I don’t actually know what’s in there! When I go on holidays next week, I aim to get through that stack, and it will be a veritable treasure trove! Like Christmas morning!

Seeing as I can offer absolutely no substance to “how do I prioritise my stack”, I’m handing it over to you. Does anyone have any tried and true methods? Here’s one, at the suggestion of my friend Clare: stop buying books til I’ve finished the ones I already have. But they’re too good!

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Week in Pictures 14th July 2011.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Bad Taste Foxymorons.

On the Net: Fictional Friends.

Last week, Alissa Warren on MamaMia listed her top five fictional friends. You know, people you’d be friends with… “if they were real.”

Let me know in the comments who you’d be fictional friends with but, until then, here are my top picks:

Elphaba Thropp, Wicked.

It’s no secret Elphaba is my favourite fictional female: someone you can look up to, who rises above hatred and discrimination, and who will stand up for her beliefs no matter what. Plus, she’s a witch! Galinda wouldn’t be too bad either…

Elle Woods from Legally Blonde.

She’s fun, she’s quirky, she’s got a cute little dog and an awesome wardrobe. And underneath it all, she’s not as ditzy as she seems. Awesome friend material.

Cher Horowitz, Clueless.

Again, someone who seems carefree and Clueless on the outside, but whose heart is in the right place. Maybe she’ll let you come over and program your wardrobe into her computer. Just think of the outfit-planning time you’ll save.

Gus Bailey.

The fictional version of the late Vanity Fair columnist and man about town Dominick Dunne, Gus Bailey, would always give you the inside scoop, and probably feature you in his gossip columns! Anonymously, of course. You’ve got to keep up appearances.

Blair Waldorf/Dan Humphrey, Gossip Girl.

I’m not sure which one I’d like better as, personality-wise, they’re pretty much the same person. They exchange emails and phone calls whilst ploughing through their identical Netflix queues. They enjoy art, foreign films, being “in” with the “in crowd” and bygone eras. You could borrow Blair’s clothes, but Dan’s nice to look at… I can’t choose!

Kat Stratford, 10 Things I Hate About You.

She’s everything I’m not. She’ll shun the prom (but actually ends up going!) due to its patriarchal confines. She’s musical. She loves the riot grrl scene. She ploughs through feminist literature whilst listening to Spiderbait. And she don’t give a rats what anyone thinks of her. Total. Feminist. Icon.

Heather Mooney, Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion.

Anyone who openly tells people they don’t like to “fuck off” is someone I want to get to know! Plus she’s hilarious despite her best efforts to come across as cold and callous.

Scout Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Sure, she’s a little young to be best buds with, but maybe I could be her babysitter?!

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] It’s All About Pop-U-Lar.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Strong Female Characters in the Land of Oz.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Guest Post: Pop Culture Power Women.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] So Misunderstood.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Pop Culture Role Models.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] In Defence of To Kill a Mockingbird.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne Review.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] The 5 People I Would Be Friends With. If They Were Real.

Images via Freewebs, IG Style, Abhishek Tiwari, USA Today, TV.com, Inspired Ground, Flickr, The Hero Construction Company.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Embrace your inner slut:

“If someone calls you a slut, there’s nothing you can say to refute the claim because it never had any cognitive content anyway.

“If you try to argue that you’re not a slut, you’re implicitly buying into the idea that there are sluts out there. If there’s some criterion that will set you free, that standard will indict someone else—someone with a higher ‘number,’ or shorter skirt, or a later curfew. So we get bogged down in slut/non-slut border skirmishes over a line nobody should have tried to draw in the first place, and we all lose.

“Even virginity is not a defense against alleged sluttiness. Virgins can be sluts if they dress the wrong way, walk the wrong way, or even instill the wrong thoughts in other people. Some people will convict you of sluttitude because your body is the wrong shape, or the right shape.”

Sluts just can’t win. That’s why you should (as above) embrace your inner slut and join the SlutWalk next weekend in Melbourne, at the State Library from 1pm. I’ll be blogging more about this throughout next week.

Glee’s Mercedes just can’t get a date!

Video vixen VS. female bodybuilders:

“It is not ‘respectable’ to be black, female, voluptuous, and sexy on a stage for profit, but it is perfectly acceptable to be black, female, muscular, and ‘unsexy’. Is this double standard acceptable? Is one profession truly more sexualized than the other?”

I don’t entirely agree with this hypothesis. I think it’s far more acceptable to be conventionally and femininely sexy, as opposed to muscular and unconventionally masculine. Sure, the video vixen job title isn’t exactly perceived as a classy, “respectable” occupation, but neither is female bodybuilding. Society as a whole would much rather see women shaking what they were born with (or, you know, what the plastic surgeon gave them) than manipulating their bodies via hormones and free weights.

The surrogacy debate rages on at MamaMia

“$150,000 Doesn’t Make You Rich. Discuss.” Okay, I will: I come from a family where my mother stayed home with my sister and I, and my dad worked three jobs at some stages. I was very young then, so I have no idea how much money he brought in. But I can tell you, it sure as hell wasn’t $150,000, and we struggled to keep our heads above water week-to-week. We never had savings, we could never go on family holidays that required much travel because we couldn’t afford flights or accommodation. I missed out on all but one of my seven cousins’ weddings because we couldn’t make it interstate. My parents have only bought two houses in their lifetime: the other nine we resided in throughout my lifetime were rentals. I also don’t know how much my dad makes now, but it is a lot less than $100,000, and my mum’s on a pension. In my opinion, $150,000 a year is rich.

“Opposition leader Tony Abbott says the Government is punishing ‘aspiration and hard work’,” with the new middle class welfare breaks. Is working three jobs and hardly being able to see your family not hard work, Mr. Abbott?

How to deal with your boyfriend’s porn-watching habit.

The argument for Pixar movie heroines who aren’t princesses, “from all the girls with band-aids on their knees”.

The perils of being smiled at by a cute guy in a café when you’re not wearing makeup.

Texas’ “10 Hottest Female Sex Offenders”. “No doubt that 4-year-old boy, that 2-year-old boy and that 13-year-old girl are taking solace even as we speak that at least they were abused, molested and assaulted by a hot person.”

Hillary Clinton, brownies and Vanity Fair’s cover line.

The aftermath of the royal wedding and the state of Britain’s monarchy for the next 30 years.

Gay/straight chicken: when straight men insult homosexuality and “gay men insult women”.

“Is Kate Hudson Coasting on Cuteness?” My money is on “yes”. When was the last time she starred in a box-office smash, or was nominated for an award other than a Razzie?

Images via Jezebel, Fashion Fame.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“A Brief History of the Bump Watch.”

And for any preggo Early Bird’s out there, this one’s also for you: “What You NEVER, Not in a Million Years, Expect When You’re Expecting”.

Dodai Stewart discovers the benefits of jeggings.

In the wake of St. Kilda’s most recent sex scandal (Ricky Nixon and the same underage girl who released damaging nude photos of St. Kilda players Nick Riewoldt and Nick Dal Santo in December, for those of you who have been under a rock the last week or so), Hawthorn’s Lance Franklin has released a sexist line of t-shirts.

Also with the St. Kilda Schoolgirl Scandal, Round 2, Mia Freedman writes:

“… I think it’s extremely interesting how she is indeed redressing the power imbalance between a 17-year-old girl and high profile AFL players and managers. She’s using social media and traditional media in ways that have been both surprising and disturbing to watch.”

Freedman shares her views on Justin Bieber’s recent abortion comments, as well. More on this to come next week.

For all the single ladies (put your hands up!), “10 More Reasons You’re Not Married”, which include such gems as “you’re not good enough at fellatio or you’re too good at fellatio,” “you are too fat or too skinny” and “you want children too much and/or not enough”. It seems we can’t (or can) win.

Guest Girl with a Satchel blogger, Georgie Carroll of Frangipani Princess, talks teen magazines. “… My favourite day of the month is still when the newest issues hit the stand”; mine too.

On femme fatales.

Jenna Sauers attends a Fashion Week PETA party and “talks about animals with Tim Gunn”. Interesting stuff.

Are Lady Gaga and Rihanna really original, or “stealing other artists’ work”?

Are you a fan of kangaroo meat? Read this; it might change your mind:

“Like the seal trade, it’s brutal, but it happens away from our view, at night in the bush. According to the law, adult kangaroos should be killed by a single shot to the brain.  But in reality, many are injured in the neck or the body, and flee into the bush where they die slowly and painfully.

“What’s even less known is the terrible fate of joeys, just like the one Ray waded into turbulent flood waters to save: over a million a year are killed each year along with their mothers. How? The hunter stomps on the pouch joey’s head, or bludgeons him or her with a metal pipe.  This is enough to make you think twice about ever putting roo on the menu. The young outside the pouch are shot through the heart or head.”

Images via Romantic Dreaming, Juciytings.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“Christina Aguilera: Always the Second Fiddle.”

I don’t believe in New Years resolutions anymore, namely because I could never realise mine. But I like Rachel Hills’ idea of writing an obituary for the year passed. In this case, her 2008 in review.

HuffPo on the absence of modern technology in modern literature:

“The average fictional character is either so thoroughly disinterested in email, social media, and text messages he never thinks of it, or else hastily mentions electronic communications in the past tense. Sure, characters in fiction may own smart phones, but few have the urge to compulsively play with the device while waiting to meet a friend or catch a flight. This ever-present anachronism has made it so that almost all literary fiction is science fiction, a thought experiment as to what life might be like if we weren’t so absorbed in our iPhones but instead watched and listened to the world around us at a moment’s rest.”

Girl with a Satchel ponders the price of a pretty picture.

“Caring for Your Introvert” is one of the best articles I’ve read all year (and considering it was written in 2003, that’s saying something). Here, an excerpt:

“With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. ‘People person’ is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like ‘guarded’, ‘loner’, ‘reserved’, ‘taciturn’, ‘self-contained’, ‘private’—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty.

“The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts’ Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say ‘I’m an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush.’”

Furthermore, The Los Angeles Times notes that despite the introverted minority, television doesn’t reflect their existence very well. (Does television reflect anything very well?):

“Watch Seinfeld or Friends or Sex & the City or Community or Men of a Certain Age—the list is endless—and you’ll see people who not only are never ever alone but people whose relationships are basically smooth, painless, uninhibited and deeply, deeply intimate—the kind of friendships we may have had in college but that most of us can only dream about now. How many adults do you know who manage to hang out with their friends every single day for hour after hour?”

On that, Gossip Girl is notorious for misrepresenting reality. While she knows I love her, GG often makes me feel guilty about the clothes I’m not wearing, the sex I’m not having, and the events I’m not going to. Apparently, it’s not true to the books, either.

Check out The Washington City Paper for their musings on masculinity over the past decade, with a special focus on boy bands, metrosexuals, hipsters and guidos, à la Jersey Shore.

Gwyneth Paltrow: You either love her or hate her. I hated her with a passion until I saw her on Glee, in which she came across as carefree, cool and sexy and made her a tiny bit more relatable to the general populus who don’t subscribe to her Goop musings. Mia Freedman writes hilariously on this conundrum, with a focus on a related article from Salon.

Also at MamaMia, “17 Arguments Against Gay MarriageAnd Why They’re Bullocks” is brilliant.

Tangled will be the last fairytale Disney releases in a while.

Can you still be a feminist and dress in a bra top? (Of course you can; stay tuned for more on this next week.) Or espouse archaic notions of heterosexual relations, for that matter?

“The Ongoing, Albeit Amusing, Battle to Save Bristol” on Dancing with the Stars:

“‘This seems like a case of the rich, popular cheerleaders looking like they’ve sucked on a lemon when they learn that the poor girl in school, the one in the home-made clothes and religious family, gets elected Prom Queen.’

“I’ve rarely seen such a clean-cut example of the conservative tendency to say up is down and black is white. Or, more precisely, to bemoan how oppressed white, rich, and highly privileged people are.

“… But Bristol Palin hasn’t really done squat. She is literally famous for having a baby at an inopportune time. And now she continues to get promoted over more talented people than her because she was born into the right family… Bristol Palin is a hero to wingnut America because she’s a great example of rewarding someone for being born into privilege instead of on their merits.

“… I just find it extremely funny that the wingnutteria is backing someone with no talent on a show with no real importance to stick it to liberals who by and large don’t really care, and they’re doing so because they’re intoxicated by privilege and kind of wish they had a monarchy, but they’re pretending that they’re doing it because they want to see the oppressed rise above. I suppose after Dancing with the Stars is done, they should start sticking it to the liberals by defending poor, oppressed Paris Hilton, who is definitely the weird girl with handmade clothes that is picked on by cheerleaders.”

Mel Gibson and the curse of the “Sexiest Man Alive” tag.

On Stieg Larsson and the “disturbing”, “torturous” patriarchy of his Millennium trilogy.

Women are funny, too.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

“Benevolent” teen sexism versus “hostile” teen sexism at Psychology Today via Jezebel.

Also from Jezebel, “Facebook Tells You When You Will Break Up” via a handy little graph. I wonder how the graph would change to reflect Australian dating norms andmost interestinglyseasons.

The always hilarious Mia Freedman muses on “First World Problems”.

Gawker’s take on Gossip Girl’s “Juliet Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”, or more importantly, Chuck and Blair’s sex life:

“So, Blair and Chuck are totally mashing genitals against each other for pleasure, and everyone is throwing up all over the place because of it. Because it’s so gross. ‘Hey Blair, let me put my penis inside you behind those bushes.’ THROWUP. ‘Hey Chuck, why don’t you stimulate my vagina with your mouth some more.’ RETCH. ‘Oh my gosh, let’s pant and wheeze and sweat here in this limo because we just rubbed our genitalia together to the point of climax.’… IT’S GROSS, is what I’m saying… But they’re doing it anyway and that was a plot point. Absolutely nothing changed or developed in their fucking…”

Since when did Gossip Girl need a plot point, anyway? It’s a guilty pleasure and that’s the beauty of it.

This 2009 New Yorker article is suspiciously similar to a Law & Order: SVU episode from season 11. But it is a brilliantly haunting read about fire investigation, wrongful incarceration, execution and justice.

Defamer addresses Vanity Fair’s penchant for posthumous covers.

Ideologically Impure responds to Stephen Fry’s assertion that women don’t like/want/have sex as much as gay men:

“Because, Mr. Fry, do you know what happens to women who openly state they enjoy sex, who act in an overtly sexual manner, who admit to casual sex?

If they get raped, their rapist walks free.

“Because a woman saying she enjoys sex is obviously always up for it. And a woman who’s had casual sex in the past must not be fussy about who she fucks. And a woman who flirts is just ‘sending the wrong signals’ and completely gives up her right to say ‘no’.”

The allure of the Kindle, by Maggie Alderson.

The original “In Defence of Slut-O-Ween” and, in the same vein, The Stranger wishes us a (belated) “Happy Heteroween”.

Annabelle DeSisto, the girl who shut down the Situation on Jersey Shore, tells her side of the story on Best Week Ever:

“… He kept asking me if I wanted to change clothes, like to get into something more comfortable like pyjamas. And I was like ‘No’, and he was like ‘But you seem really uncomfortable in that dress, let’s just get you into pyjamas.’ I’m like, ‘Does everything you own have a rhinestone bulldog or dragon or Ed Hardy logo on it?’ And he’s like, ’Yeah, of course!’ And I was like, ‘Then I’m not changing clothes.’”

Sounds like a quintessential douchebag to me!

In defence of Kanye West:

“Part of Kanye’s curse is that after everyone chills out a little, we all realise he was just saying what everyone was thinking, and we were unfair to leap all over him…”

“What is Vampire Sex?” Effing hot, that’s what!

Shameless Wildfox plug: “13 ‘Mature’ Things to Do While Wearing Wildfox This Halloween”. I did just one of these things this Halloween. Can you guess which?

If you missed Zoe Foster’s “All Women Really Want is a Cup Of Fu*king Tea” relationship advice in Cosmo a few months ago, here it is again on her blog, via MamaMia.

Mick Foley pens his thoughts on Linda McMahon:

“… The concerns expressed in regard to WWE are valid onessubstance abuse problems, content issues, the troubling trend of pro-wrestlers dying way too young. But if Linda McMahon is going to be held personally accountable for every negative aspect of her family business, shouldn’t she be given personal credit for every positive aspect as well? Like the 5,000 wishes to children facing life threatening conditions WWE has granted over the last twenty five years, through ‘Make-a-Wish’ and other wish granting organisations? Or the ‘Tribute to the Troops’ tour that WWE has embarked on every year since 2003; spreading holiday cheer to service-members far from home, in remote bases in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.”

When things are looking glum, take a look at this mantra from Gala Darling. Things aren’t that bad.

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.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Taking inspiration from Gala Darling: These stunning pictures make me nostalgic for summer days at the fairground… oh, that’s right, I never spent summer days at the fairground. And certainly not in a playsuit with balloons. Via The Cherry Blossom Girl.

Jezebel really has it in for Facebook, doesn’t she? My favourite anti-FB post from the site this week is “When it Comes to Women’s Issues, Facebook Still Hasn’t Figured Out How to Play Fair”.

I absolutely LOVED Through a New Lens‘s post on “How Your Audience is Like the Mogwai”! While I’m certainly not a Gremlins fan, Joey Strawn draws some good points from the film and how they relate to blog audiences. Will be keeping his thoughts in mind.

More Gala goodness; it’s an oldie but a goodie. Gala counts down her “Top 5 Fictional Female Style Icons”. I have to confess, I’ve never seen The L Word or Henry & June, so I’ll have to take her word for it. However, I am totes down with Cher Horowitz, Blair Waldorf and Carrie Bradshaw as 3, 2 and 1, respectively.

Following in the vein of her workaholism posts, Rachel Hills uses Zen Habits’ assertion “that, instead of scheduling our days and weeks and months with small tasks that eventually lead us to whatever place we’re trying to get to, we should just go with wherever our will takes us on any given day.” Like going to bed at 8 o’clock on a Monday night, sleeping through til 8 o’clock the following morning, doing a spot of blogging, and watching 90210 for the rest of the day? Definitely worth a look.

Also at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, Hills looks at the Kyle & Jackie O rape scandal, as well as the Matthew Johns group sex scandal (which continues to get my goat), and the issue of “grey rape”.

In other GG news, this circa-season one post perfectly encapsulates the addiction to the show its audience faces. Admitting it is the first step, right? More on this post here.

Styleite lists “6 Things Elle Magazine is Doing Right”, three being their heavy online and television presences, and their intelligence section, which I couldn’t agree with more. Half the reason (okay, more than half) I continually buy Elle is because of their great articles and book reviews, and their book blog Lit Life is on my blogroll.. “Think Vogue meets Vanity Fair“.

Still with magazines on reality TV, The New York Times profiled Teen Vogue, which you may remember from (other than the newsstand/agency) The Hills.

Postcards to Alphaville “is a project dedicated to film characters featured in guest-made illustrations”. Below, my favourites.

Finally, try an enlightening personality test this weekend, with the Myers-Briggs test. I got an INFJ result, which means I’m Introverted and expend energy in social situations; iNtuitive and focus on the bigger picture and the possibilities; prefer Feeling to thinking and give more weight to emotions than logic; and I’m Judgemental and like to have my plans made well in advance. Oh, how accurate!