Hot Girl Halloween: Halloween Costume Ideas.

This year has offered a wealth of Halloween costume ideas, so I’ve compiled them here with links. Enjoy your Hot Girl Halloween!

Hot Girl Summer

hot girl summer

She Finds has already done the leg work on this one

Bonus: Hot Girl Fall

Cotton On denim shorts, Shien red cropped sweater, Dolls Kill thigh high tartan boots.

Russian Doll

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Shien houndstooth trench coat, Sussan black keyhole blouse.

Normani in Motivation

Hypebae has also done the honours, just add a basketball from Rebel Sport.

On Becoming a God in Central Florida

ON BECOMING A GOD IN CENTRAL FLORIDA

Raid your mum’s closet or local op shop for kitschy ’90s finds.

Lil Nas X in Old Town Road

Elle has you covered.

Sasha Banks Wig Reveal

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Sasha Banks is renowned for her intricate and ever-changing ring gear, so maybe just wear a Boss t-shirt. As long as you’re wearing a blue wig and carrying a purple one, everyone will know that you’re wrestling’s most iconic moment of the year.

Bloody Becky/Becky Two Belts

Bleeding Becky LynchBecky Two Belts

 

Last year’s most iconic image was courtesy of Becky Lynch and occurred too late for last Halloween, so this year you can don a blue SmackDown t-shirt, orange wig and red face paint to recreate Bleeding Becky. Or in honour of Lynch’s WrestleMania main event win, go as Becky Two Belts.

Couples costume: Midsommar

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May Queen: all of the flower crowns Spotlight has to offer. Bear: bear suit.

Villanelle from Killing Eve

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Shoot me mummy in an ASOS red jumpsuit.

Us

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Stab me in a red coverall, sandals and with scissors.

Euphoria

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Season 1, Episode 8
CR: HBO

Again, Elle did it for me.

Sharon Tate

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Sharon Tate is everywhere this year, the fiftieth anniversary of her murder. Dolls Kill gogo boots, BooHoo dress, Sportsgirl headscarf and a beehive. 

The Masked Singer

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Pick a mask, any mask.

Fleabag

fleabag jumpsuit

Put to use that jumpsuit that everyone was raving about upon the release of the second (and final) season.

Taylor Swift in Me

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Shien pastel yellow short suit set, with a pink tie and bag.

Rodarte lookbook

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If the real thing is too exxy, channel the fashion brand’s celeb-filled S/S2020 look book and don some pearl gloves with matching fake pearls in your finger-waves.  

Couples costume: Ramona and Destiny

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Ramona’s bodysuit, Destiny’s SEXY diamante choker. You both get in the faux fur coat together. 

Lizzo in Truth Hurts

Shien bridal teddy, BooHoo bridal robe, veil from eBay, Bras N Things stay ups

Ready Or Not

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Continuing the bridal theme, you’d be surprised how many op shops sell old wedding dresses for you to rip up and splash fake blood onto with abandon. Add a bullet belt, toy shotgun and battered Converse to complete the look.

Shiv from Succession

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I haven’t seen Succession but the internet has been going crazy for Siobhan Roy’s millionaire chic. A turtleneck and high-waisted pants are an easy workaround for those who hate costumes.

Related: A Tale of Two Sharon Tate Films.

Images via Variety, LiveMint, New York Post, Bleeding Cool, Daily DDT, Golden Age Cinema, The Sun, The New Yorker, Entertainment WeeklyRefinery29, The Atlantic, Poshmark, Spin, Hypebae, Haute Acorn, GQ, Glamour.

Interview with the Beyoncé Professor.

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Kevin Allred, whose debut book Ain’t I A Diva: Beyoncé & the Power of Pop Culture Pedagogy, was released in June, has been teaching all things Queen Bey since 2010 in his university class Politicising Beyoncé. Here he speaks about The Lion King star’s politics, her Netflix doco Homecoming, Taylor Swift, and examining Beyoncé’s work through a black feminist lens.

First of all, why is a white man writing about Beyoncé?

I talk about my identity [as a white gay man growing up in a religious household] throughout the book. I’m always trying to be aware of it, whether through teaching or writing. I tried to come to a balance of leaving all these sources for people to kind of pick up and read with a little bit of analysis at the same time so it’s not just me shoving down everyone’s throat a perspective of Beyoncé, so that’s how I negotiated my whole identity in the mix.

Many people think Beyoncé became “political” with the release of “Formation” and Lemonade, but can you explain how she was “subtly politicizing” herself, as you write in the book, and her work long before that?

One of the things I wanted to do with the book is give an overall reading of Lemonade in one chapter and show how pieces of that were present earlier. Whether Beyoncé was trying to be super intentional with it or not, I think it’s part of her artistic process, you can now look back and see little pieces that come together in this now epic, iconic visual album, completely cohesive in the way she presented Lemonade to the world. That’s how I was teaching [Beyoncé’s work in my class] before—Lemonade came out, that makes it possible to see those other pieces now that we have Lemonade to use as a, like a key to the map. Now that you have the key you can see the little pieces in the other places, too.

Why do you omit Beyoncé’s first album, Dangerously in Love, from the book?

It’s not because I don’t like the songs or the music, but for me, I think she comes into her own as a creative director with B-Day… I wanted to make a claim as her as a creator, her as an artist, whereas with Dangerously in Love it felt more like a piecemeal album that she didn’t have much control over as producer, director… That’s why we just look at those [albums] from 2006 onward [in the book].

Beyoncé’s 2018 performance at Coachella and the recent Netflix documentary chronicling it, Homecoming, incorporate the big band, stepping and, indeed, homecoming rituals of HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). Beyoncé says in the doco that she missed out on uni but that Destiny’s Child was her college experience. The introduction to your book is entitled “Schoolin’ Life”. So how has Beyoncé incorporated her life experiences and education into her career and Homecoming specifically?

Homecoming is this huge culmination. I was always really taken with that song “Schoolin’ Life”, the bonus track from the 4 album. She says “Who needs a degree when you’re schoolin’ life?” as part of the chorus; it blends experience with what we’d consider the academic. Just because you went to school doesn’t mean you know more, and if you didn’t, there’s no correlation.. With Homecoming she brought it full circle. She’s celebrating HBCU culture but she’s also dropping these references throughout, all these different writers: Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, a few of the people that I mention in the book, too, which was cool for me to see… because that’s what I was always intending to do with the class and now she’s taken this over and she’s going to show us herself.

Homecoming follows a theme of Beyoncé infiltrating traditionally white spaces—the Super Bowl, the CMAs, the Louvre, Coachella and arguably Netflix itself—with her increasingly politicised artistry. Can you speak a bit about that?

I think she’s had a long-term strategy. Artists can come out and be very political right off the bat but it might mean that they sacrifice radio play or notoriety… I think Beyoncé knew that so she kept a lot of stuff hidden under the layers. So when she gets to the point of being able to go to the Super Bowl styled after the Black Panthers she has this huge platform that no other artist has. Now is the time to drop these little bombs. She might lose some followers or sacrifice some people buying her music but that’s not going to affect her in the long run anymore. I don’t think it’s that Beyoncé wasn’t thinking about [being political in the beginning of her career], it’s that she wanted to achieve that level [of fame] so that she could reach even more people because people can be turned off by those initial politics. Which in itself is a form of education: to piss [people] off and get them to say, now I’m not going to listen to Beyoncé. It draws out these questions of why are you mad that she did this? It gets into these real issues of racism that still haven’t been dealt with. I’m into calling her an educator now.

What do you think about Taylor Swift coming out with a similar strategy with her “You Need to Calm Down” video and encouraging people to vote last year after receiving criticism for being “apolitical”during the 2016 U.S. presidential election?

I think Taylor Swift has copied Beyoncé in every strategy for a long time! [laughs] … She’s talking about politics now but I don’t think she’s doing it in a smart way… It feels like Beyoncé starts the trend and Taylor comes to the same conclusion later and often gets a lot of credit for it whereas Beyoncé doesn’t. That replays the race issues within feminist movements [that I discuss in his book.]

This brings us to the “wine pairing” part of the interview. I’m going to say a Beyoncé song, and you’re going to offer the black feminist analysis that goes with it. “Crazy in Love”

This one’s tough ’cause it’s from the album that I don’t discuss [in the book]! I would pair that with something to do with love, like Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.

“Single Ladies”

Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness.

“Diva”

We go straight to the title [of the book]. I pair “Diva” with the “Ain’t I a Woman” speech that Sojourner Truth is known for but actually [it] is not likely to have happened with those words. It’s kind of a reimagining of the speech. I love to think about the idea of a diva and the way Beyoncé constructs that song next to Sojourner Truth being a public speaker and activist. 

“Run the World (Girls)”

An article Cathy Cohen wrote called “Punks, Bulldaggers and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics”. It’s about coalitions coming together and that song—or at least the video—emphasises that. Also “We Don’t Need Another Hero”. The video always reminds me of Tina Turner in Mad Max [Beyond Thunderdome].

“***Flawless”

Well obviously Beyoncé paired Chimamanda Ngozie Adiche’s [“We Should All Be Feminists” with the song]. It’s interesting to watch the speech that she gives and read the essay and see how Beyoncé’s remixed it. What does she leave out, what does she take and rearrange? That one Beyoncé’s done for us.

“7/11”

I like to think of [7/11] as a celebration of dancing. Alice Walker has a book of poetry called Hard Times Require Furious Dancing. Her prologue to that has some really important stuff to relate to “7/11”.

“Formation”

There’s so much. One interesting one is Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, which is a choreopoem so it’s a song, a play, choreography. I think Beyoncé brings all those elements to “Formation” and the rest of Lemonade which are interesting to look at next to that piece of work.

“Freedom”

There’s a novel by Sherley Anne Williams called Dessa Rose which had kind of disappeared from literature cannons but has been revived in the last few years. It gets into the idea of what freedom means and I think put next to Beyoncé singing “Freedom” creates some interesting conversations.

“Apeshit”

I have to go with June Jordan, her essay [collection] Civil Wars. She talks about being polite and civility and I think that pairs well with the idea of being in the Louvre and not disrespecting the art [per] se but challenging the idea of respectability.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Elsewhere: [HuffPost] The Unbearable White Womanhood of Taylor Swift.

[National Park Service] Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman?

[Duke University Press] Punks, Bulldaggers & Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics.

[TED] We Should All Be Feminists.

A Tale of Two Sharon Tate Films.

hilary duff the haunting of sharon tate

The following contains spoilers for The Haunting of Sharon Tate and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.

The Haunting of Sharon Tate is objectively bad.

Starring Hilary Duff as the titular Tate, it follows the heavily pregnant movie star’s last days with her friends, hairdresser Jay Sebring (Jonathan Bennett), coffee heiress Abigail Folger (Lydia Hearst) and her boyfriend Wojciech Frykowski (Pawel Szajda), at her home in the Hollywood Hills before they were slain there by Charles Manson’s followers fifty years ago this month. 

In this movie, Tate encounters Manson several times and he plays on her mind, appearing in her dreams and—it was rumoured—in premonitions of her death at his command. The Haunting of Sharon Tate flips the horrific murders that are widely believed to have been “the end of the ’60s,” as Joan Didion wrote, by having Tate and her friends fight back and prevent their own deaths.

margot robbie once upon a time in hollywood

Sound familiar? This is also the premise of Quentin Tarantino’s recently released retelling of the murders, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. His version is preoccupied with washed up TV star Rick Dalton and his stunt double Cliff Booth, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, respectively. Their debauched lifestyles in Hollywood orbit around the Manson family, while Dalton lives next door to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate on Cielo Drive, whose murder they preempt by killing the Manson followers themselves.

While Hollywood appears to be the better film, starring today’s elite of the town in which it’s set, crafted by a famous auteur and raking in millions at the worldwide box office, it’s representation of women has been the subject of hot debate.

This film first came onto my radar when a reporter made headlines at Cannes for asking Tarantino why Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate had dismal lines. He shot the reporter down by snottily replying that he rejected her hypotheses. In this respect I would argue that Haunting is actually the superior film, because it gives Tate agency, whereas Hollywood casts her as a bit player in her own would-be murder.

That reporter was right: Robbie is wasted in Hollywood, but what little scenes she does have she shines in. On the contrary, Duff could never be accused of being a good actor (except in her luminous role as book publisher Kelsey Peters on Younger), but she imbues Tate with hopes, dreams and participation in her own life as the main subject of Haunting. The only inkling of these traits we see in Hollywood is when Tate sees herself on screen at an impromptu matinee of her movie The Wrecking Crew. Even the final scene of Hollywood, it is not the most famous and pre-occupying figure of the Manson murders that weren’t who checks on the commotion next door, but Jay Sebring. This is an excuse for him—and, by extension, the movie, which never lets up in this respect—to fawn over Dalton’s fame and acting talent instead of contemplating the tragedy they just escaped.

Sebring is problematically cast with Emile Hirsch in the role. In 2015, Hirsch allegedly choked a female film executive unconscious at Sundance Film Festival. This speaks to the larger theme of the movie of violent and repulsive men taking up most of the storyline, while the women are silent, objectified and sometimes both. The revelation that Booth allegedly killed his wife yet is the saviour of the movie by subsequently killing two more women (Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkle of the Manson family, with an assist from Dalton’s flamethrower [yes, really] for Atkins) is pretty revolting. Could we expect anything less from a director who is accused of sexually harassing Rose McGowan, pressuring Uma Thurman to do a dangerous stunt that caused her permanent injury and defending the statutory rape committed by a character in his movie, Polanski? 

The final scene of Haunting reveals that Tate and her friends’ foiling of their murders was a way for the characters to gain closure, ownership of their fates and move into the spirit realm. This is undeniably hokey, as is the movie as a whole, but Haunting doesn’t objectify female characters and portrays them as the fully realised heroines of their own stories. Even though they ultimately don’t survive, Sharon Tate and Abigail Folger were people worthy of memorialisation, and Haunting does so thusly. For those reasons, it is the superior Sharon Tate film of 2019.

Elsewhere: [The Manson Family Blog] Sharon’s Premonition II.

[Vox] How the Manson Family Murders Changed Hollywood, Explained by Joan Didion.

[ABC News[ Quentin Tarantino Snaps at Reporter Over Question About Margot Robbie’s Role in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.

[The Daily Beast] Emile Hirsch Brutally Assaulted a Female Film Executive. He’s Now Starring in the New Tarantino Film.

[The Guardian] Brave by Rose McGowan Review: Hollywood’s Avenging Warrior Speaks Out.

[ABC News] Quentin Tarantino Sorry Over Uma Thurman Stunt Crash, Faces Backlash Over 2003 Polanski Comments.

[Vanity Fair] Quentin Tarantino is Really Sorry for Defending Roman Polanski.

My Semester In High School: A Satirical, Undercover Feature by Josie Gellar.

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I was given an assignment to go back to high school and find out about kids today. What I ended up finding was that the teachers at South Glen South High School who are entrusted to protect and teach the next generation have done anything but, as I observed when I attended there as a student for the summer semester of 1999 in an undercover assignment.
Senior students steal cars, wear bikini tops and fraternise with teachers outside of school hours. In my time at South Glen South High School, during which the administration were so short sighted and irresponsible as to allow two adults—myself and my 23-year-old brother Rob, who seems simultaneously much older and supremely immature to enrol—I observed and regretfully participated in the exploitation of minors.
This corruption is embedded into the governing culture of the school, with members of the faculty sexually targeting me. Although I am in actuality a 25-year-old woman, English teacher Sam Coulson was under the impression that I was a senior and actively pursued me romantically both within and outside of the halls of South Glen South High School with that knowledge. I hereby call for his immediate termination from teaching, an independent investigation into whether Coulson has victimised other students in this way, and an overhaul of not just the safety of this school’s students, but that of all students across the city, state and even the country.
My aforementioned brother, Rob Gellar, was also complicit in the sexual endangerment of another female student, with which I am still reckoning and for which I’m not sure I will be able to forgive him. That he knowingly pursued a 16-year-old girl and is now coaching the baseball team of her school should be grounds for instant dismissal and inclusion on the sex offenders registry.

Similarly, Sam Coulson is now fleeing the state after having preyed on who he thought was his student. I hope this article provides local, state and federal law enforcement with the information they need to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.

I lived a lifetime of regrets after my first high school experience. And now, after my second, my regrets are down to one: sitting idly by as the students of South Glen South High School were put at risk. No more.
So I propose this: Sam Coulson, if you are willing to own up to what you did and turn yourself in, I will be waiting on the pitcher’s mound for five minutes at the state baseball championship for the conclusion to my first real reporting assignment—your arrest and subsequent charging with an improper relationship with a student.

House of Cards Signifies the End of Wish Fulfillment Women Presidents.

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This article contains spoilers for the final season of House of Cards.

Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) on House of Cards, which dropped its sixth season on Netflix in early November, is the latest in a long line of woman presidents to leave the airwaves. Scandal’s Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) is gone. State of Affairs, NBC’s drama about the first Black woman president Constance Payton (Alfre Woodard), was cancelled after one season. HBO’s Veep is on hiatus as Julia Louis Dreyfus, the actress who plays President Selina Meyer, undergoes breast-cancer treatment. And Underwood, the steely, blonde-bobbed, long-suffering First Lady, finally usurped her husband Frank (Kevin Spacey, who was fired from the show last year amidst sexual assault allegations) to become president. Ending the show with Underwood as the first woman to lead the United States also signals the end of TV’s wish-fulfillment of woman presidents.

While 25 other countries currently have female heads of state, American pop culture is consumed by its obsession with Hillary Clinton, with about just as many fictional depictions of a female president on the small screen alone. House of Cards leaned into this preoccupation hard, with Underwood’s icy, if at times boring, Clintonian competency juxtaposed with the circus that is current real-life U.S. politics.

For keen-eyed political pundits or, really, anyone who’s followed the news, House of Cards offered heavy-handed comparisons between Underwood and Clinton. For example, a conservative news host called Underwood a “pussy,” and, later in the season, the President reverted to her maiden name, Hale, a struggle which Clinton has also encountered.

But perhaps the most keen correlation between Hale and Clinton is the fact that their husbands fucked it up for them. Long-standing accusations of rape and sexual assault against Bill plagued the Clinton campaign. Hale probably thought her problems would go away with the death of her husband (“Doesn’t everyone love the widow?”). Though it was widely considered that House of Cards would have ended with this season regardless of Kevin Spacey’s sexual misconduct, in the show’s last gasp effort to wrap everything up by subbing in Hale as president, it did a disservice to the wish-fulfillment aspect of seeing a woman president on TV. Instead of a competent, qualified, Clinton-esque Commander in Chief, Hale was the result of the process of elimination of the inept men in the Oval Office’s orbit.

Speaking of inept men, in a plot that mirrored both Donald Trump’s accusation that Clinton lacked stamina on the campaign trial and Melania Trump’s mysterious exile from public view earlier this year, Underwood holed up in the White House residence for a month, feigning grief for her dead husband and a general unfitness for the job, reaffirming “America’s worst fear: a female in the Oval Office.” It’s House of Cards, though, so of course Hale had something up her sleeve. Her elaborate retirement to the proverbial fainting couch convinced her cabinet, consisted mostly of old, white men who didn’t look much different from their real-life counterparts, to begin the process of ousting her. Just in time, she dismissed her entire staff, declared that “the reign of the middle-aged white man is over,” and ushered in an all-woman cabinet. This may have appeared to be a bastion of gender equality and female empowerment to outsiders, however it was nothing more than a political power move to rub it in former friend and political donor Annette’s (Diane Lane) face, who had been blackmailing Hale with her past abortions in order to get her to succumb to the promises Frank made to Annette and her brother, Bill (Greg Kinnear).

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In this way, House of Cards shared similarities with Scandal, in which two Clinton stand-ins were glimpsed: former First Lady and series-ending president, Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young), and political fixer and fellow First Lady, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington). While Mellie spent Scandal’s seven seasons fighting to emerge from her husband President Fitzgerald Grant III’s shadow, Olivia occupied her own First Lady sojourn. In season five, Pope hosted a Christmas party at the White House where she offered a party-goer her snickerdoodle recipe, evoking Clinton’s infamous cookie quote. Pope ended that episode by having an abortion and leaving the president, just like Hale.

Much has been made of Hale’s decision not to have children in previous seasons. Though more people are choosing to remain child-free, it’s still a fraught conversation and, with Hale’s departure, the time is ripe not only for further explorations of child-free women who would have the means to access to childcare and nannies while they pursue their high-powered careers but, more interestingly, women who don’t and how that impacts their lives.

However, a House of Cards trademark twist came into play that turned the Clinton comparisons on their head: Hale ends the series with child! (Not because of any maternal calling but for political protection against Doug Stamper, Frank’s former chief of staff who has become obsessed with avenging the disgraced president’s death.) And it’s a girl! That, coupled with her all-female cabinet, solidified Hale’s femininity (because there’s no room for gender non-conformity in the White House of Cards or, indeed, in any White House) and, thus, feminism was fulfilled.

Hale was well aware that her pregnancy would shield her from a lot of criticism. She played into the perception of pregnant women as delicate, fragile and worth protecting (at least, the fetuses inside them) at all costs and used it to wreak political havoc. As follows, House of Cards could be seen to have flipped the wish-fulfillment of the show’s woman president again: that is what would happen if we let women and their hormones rule the free world.

While some of the remaining women TV presidents, such as Tea Leoni on Madam Secretary and Lynda Carter on Supergirl, have been seen uncomplicatedly aspirational, they, too, are changing in response to the current political climate. In the most recent season of Supergirl, President Olivia Marsden was outed as an alien, drawing on the birther conspiracy that followed Barack Obama’s presidency and echoing the groundswell around immigrant rights. Two years removed from the 2016 election, maybe one thing we can take solace in is that the new crop of shows with women presidents are tending away from the rigid ideals that boxed in Clinton and the characters inspired by her and allowing for a more multifaceted portrayal of women and power.

Elsewhere: [The Atlantic] A Short History of Hillary (Rodham) (Clinton)’s Changing Names.

[CNN] Donald Trump: Hillary Clinton “Doesn’t Have the Stamina” to be President.

[NYTimes] Hillary Clinton & the Return of the (Unbaked) Cookies.

[AV Club] Madame Secretary is Good, But it Could Stand to Be More Cynical.

Images via Robin Wright Site, Bustle.

Interview with World Wrestling Entertainment’s The IIconics, Billie Kay & Peyton Royce.

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This interview was conducted via phone a week before Billie Kay and Peyton Royce performed at Super Show-Down in Melbourne, Australia on 6th October, 2018.

Tell me a little bit about your wrestling background, specifically your time on the Sydney indie scene.

Billie: I found Pro Wrestling Australia’s online training academy in Sydney. I found that place when I was seventeen years old and I became the first student they had when it first opened. I trained there for three months and on my 18th birthday I had my first match which was awesome. A little while later Peyton joined PWA and that’s when we properly met and spoke to each other and we became best friends ever since. Since then we’ve both travelled individually across Australia and America just performing. We were fortunate enough to get a WWE try out and the rest is history.

Peyton: I joined PWA when I was 16. What really sold me on it was I had seen a poster with Billie on it while I was out celebrating my birthday so it was kind of like a sign; that’s how I feel. I started training with Billie in 2012 in Canada at Lance Storm’s school for three months. And when I came home I came home to Melbourne and I stayed there for a few years. MCW was my home in Melbourne and then Billie and I had our tryout and the rest is history!

Who are some of your Aussie peers currently wrestling in NXT that you’re excited about?

Petyon: We have Rhea Ripley in NXT at the moment and she’s just killing it. She has so much potential. She’s still so young. When she does progress to the main roster she’s going to do amazing things and we’re excited to see her do that.

What does it mean to you to be wrestling in a marquee match in a stadium show such as Super Show-Down?

Peyton: To say we’re excited would be an understatement because we cannot wait to get back home to Australia and then perform for this massive show—Super Show-Down, 100,000 people, MCG, it’s gonna be absolutely incredible… It’s gonna be one of the biggest shows Australia’s ever seen, and worldwide, too. The fact that it is in our home country just makes the experience that much more special. An Aussie way to put it: we are bloody stoked.

Do you want to be booed as heels or cheered as hometown heroines?

Peyton: We just want the crowd to have fun, so if we hear the crowd booing or cheering [a reaction is] all that matters to us. We just want to hear the crowd having fun. Either way, that is what we hope to get.

What do you think Super Show-Down will do for the profile of professional wrestling in Australia?

Billie: I think it’s gonna take it to a whole new level. It’s been amazing for Peyton and I to watch the Australian scene grow so big. I think having such a massive show like Super Show-Down in Australia I think it’s just going to make it grow even more, so we’re pretty excited to see how it does affect the Australian scene.

Are you hoping the next big stadium event in Australia is in your hometown?

Peyton: That would be amazing to be able to wrestle for WWE in arenas that Billie and I went to as kids when WWE came to Australia. And to be able to do it in front of our friends and family in our home town, that’s a dream right there.

Are your friends and family coming to Super Show-Down?

Billie: We both have a lot of friends and family coming down for the show. To have them watch us perform and have them watch us in this special moment that we’ve worked so hard for is going to make it extra special, I think.

Will you have the chance to do any sight-seeing while you’re in Melbourne?

Peyton: It is pretty go-go-go. I hope some of the Superstars are able to get out and just go for a walk in Melbourne and just see the city because there is so much to see and do. There’s so much to explore and it’s an absolutely beautiful city and we’re so excited to come back.

What does it mean to you that Evolution is taking place at a time that you just so happen to be wrestling for WWE?

Petyon: It’s such a crazy thought to think that when we were ten years old we were dreaming of being in a WWE ring and now that we’ve made it it just so happens that it’s in the middle of this massive women’s evolution. Having the first-ever women’s pay-per-view and we will be able to be a part of it. It’s really astounding that we came in at this special time and we get to be a part of it. October is gonna be a big month for us but we are excited to be a part of it.  

What are you excited for for the event? What match do you hope to wrestle in at the event?

Peyton: We definitely have dream opponents. We often talk about how amazing it would be if we could have a match against the Bellas, or LayCool. And then another team that Billie and I would have so much fun being in the ring with is the Hug & Boss Connection, Sasha Banks and Bayley. Those two women have done so much for us and our careers so I think that would be so amazing. Honestly, any match that we have at Evolution would be a dream come true because we get to be a part of it.

Do you think those matches could be for a women’s tag team championship…?

Peyton: Laughs.

Billie: That would just be the icing on the cake. We’ve always wanted to help pioneer the women’s tag team division; that’s something that Peyton and I have always wanted to help do. So if that were to happen it would just make it that much more special. But it’s already special. It would be so overwhelming if that is a possibility but it’s something that we both really care for and would love to happen.

Guest Post: The Erasure of People of Colour from Sharp Objects.

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This article by Shane Thomas contains light spoilers for Sharp Objects.

One area where Sharp Objects has left itself open to criticism is in the optics of its cast, which is hugely—if not exclusively—white. In recent years, Western television and film has gradually moved away from using male whiteness as its default perspective to tell stories.

Yet I’m not sure it’s wholly fair to upbraid Sharp Objects for telling a woman-focused story that only concerned itself with its white characters, because it also positioned its black characters—on the brief occasions we saw them—in interesting ways. Ways that seemed too specific to be coincidental.

The narrative surrounded the town of Wind Gap, Missouri and the emotionally wretched state of its citizens. It’s a place that’s archetypal small-town America: mellow southern accents, a sunny climate, a community where everybody knows each other, and good ol’ Southern hospitality. In actuality, it’s a space rife with social deprivation, patriarchy, racism, personal misery, and murder.

In Wind Gap, white women are obligated to be dutiful wives and mothers (note the dialogue; “I don’t think a part of your heart can ever work if you don’t have kids”, and, “I didn’t really feel like a woman until I had McKenzie inside of me”), men intersperse lechery in between bouts of drinking, and the social event of the year paints the Confederacy as a plank of history to be proud of. Anyone who doesn’t subscribe to these social norms will be either demeaned, ostracised or exiled. When John Keene cries, Wind Gap doesn’t only look at him as a failure of a man, but it’s indicative of him being a social deviant.

It’s the legacy of Richard Nixon’s “Southern strategy”. These people spend their time instinctively judging others for the lives they lead, all the while being miserable themselves, finding it easy to aim their ire at anyone they deem as outsiders. One of the best aspects of Sharp Objects was to demonstrate how aligning oneself to the dogma of oppressive structures also damages those who reap its ostensible benefits.

At one point, Jackie says, “We could do what we always do around here and pretend it doesn’t exist.” In this town, alcohol isn’t just medication, but a portal to oblivion.

It’s ironic that nearby Kansas is disdainfully looked down upon by Wind Gap as the cosmopolitan, uber-lefty, politically correct big city. Not just because it’s inaccurate, but consider the most famous work of art to feature Kansas. Thanks to The Wizard of Oz, its place in the wider cultural imagination is as (white) America’s safe space.

Wind Gap is Oz at its most malignant. Intentional or otherwise, Gillian Flynn has given us a story that centres whiteness, but not in order to enshrine it as society’s ideal, instead showing that as it is currently constituted, whiteness in concert with patriarchy contaminates all. It doesn’t have to be spelled out for the audience that Wind Gap votes Republican. We don’t hear the name “Trump” once. No character ever utters the n-word. These signifiers are superfluous in a place where, to quote Christopher J. Lee, “whiteness has been transformed into common sense.”

It’s not tough to read the map of scars on Camille’s body as a cartography for the psyche of Wind Gap. Nor is it hard to read Adora’s poisoning of her own children under the guise of care and love as a metaphor for a diet of white supremacy and patriarchy fed to white Southerners going all the way back to the Lost Cause.

Sharp Objects’ black characters don’t appear often, but when they do, they operate in a distinct way to add depth to the story. Lacking socialised power, they are impotent to stem Wind Gap’s continuum into destruction, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of their surroundings. They are, to quote Reni Eddo-Lodge in her book Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, watching as an outsider to the insularity of whiteness.

Note the Preaker’s family maid, Gayla (who was costumed to bear a striking resemblance to Betty Gabriel’s indelible performance in Get Out), especially the couple of moments of unspoken warmth she shares with Camille. It’s not explicit, but she can see the destructive way Adora runs the household.

While Camille’s boss, Frank, periodically checks in with her to see how the assignment is going, Frank’s wife, Eileen, is more concerned with Camille returning to a place that holds so many traumatising memories. Frank can see a great story. Eileen can see just how tender Camille is.

In one episode, Becca—seemingly the only black person of Camille’s age in the town—explains why she doesn’t hate Camille, despite being treated horribly by her when they were younger. Becca recounts the time she noticed that the younger Camille self-harmed. She doesn’t state this in order for exploitative purposes, only to indicate that unlike the rest of Wind Gap’s citizens, Becca can see Camille’s self-destructive tendencies.

Later in the episode, Camille comes across her sister, Amma, and a group of Amma’s friends outside a convenience store. They are heading to a party, and offer to give Camille a lift home. Yet this is a ruse, as Amma plans to drag Camille to the party with her. As Camille reluctantly gets in the car, an unnamed black man pensively looks on. He can see the destruction the white youth of Wind Gap are bringing on themselves.

When Richard walks into Woodberry Hospital—where he’ll discover the truth about Adora’s Munchhausen’s by proxy—two nurses (one black; one white) stand outside. The black one immediately notices Richard, while the white one carries on smoking. It’s as if she can see what Richard’s seismic discovery will bring.

Usually such moments would be nothing more than nondescript cutaways. But it appears deliberate that these moments not only feature black characters, but black characters watching white characters. Fans of Doctor Who will know that the Time Lords are a sagacious race of beings who observe, but never interfere in the affairs of others. With director, Jean-Marc Vallée giving Sharp Objects a visual texture more often found in speculative fiction, it elevates the lesser spotted black characters to more than just bystanders, almost as if they’re Wind Gap’s very own Time Lords, who could do so much for the town if people would listen to them.

If this interpretation feels a bit too meta, a more prosaic analysis would be basic self-preservation. Do Sharp Objects’ black characters have such wary deportment because they are aware of the precarious state of their bodies existing in this town, in America, in the world? Often being black means operating at a heightened level of awareness. And to underscore this, in the show’s shocking reveal, we find out that the one black character who doesn’t have her head on a swivel (which she should never have had to) pays for it with her life.

I’ve increasingly worried that all “diversity” means is that those in charge of our entertainment cast people of colour not to broaden the dynamics of our stories, but to stop the internet being angry. This makes for a very low ceiling for progress, when what’s more important is the quality of fictional depictions rather than just sheer quantity.

This doesn’t inoculate Sharp Objects from criticism, but we should be clear on what terms we criticise it. One can definitely argue that an increased focus on its black characters would have improved the narrative. But I don’t think we should reflexively assume that a minimal spotlight on blackness indicates erasure.

Elsewhere: [YouTube] Sharp Objects Clip: “You’re Making Your Mother Ill”.

[Salon] How the GOP Became the White Man’s Party.

[YouTube] Sharp Objects Clip: “Have a Drink with Me”.

[Africa is a Country] The Global Ways of White Supremacy.

[YouTube] Sharp Objects Clip: “You Just Let It Happen”.

[Smithsonian] How I Learned About the “Cult of the Lost Cause”. 

[Goodreads] Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race.

[YouTube] Sharp Objects Clip: “You’re Not Safe.”

Image via Den of Geek.