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.

seaside heights rollercoaster

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.

the-shire

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.

original

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.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Feminist Barack Obama! [Nerve]

Despite Everybody Dance Now being axed and the dismal ratings of Being Lara Bingle, The Shire and the relaunched Can of Worms, at least Channel Ten’s taking risks. [MamaMia]

Conservative rape-talk fatigue. [Jezebel]

Why “hookup culture” is good for women. [The Atlantic, via Jezebel]

Rihanna spoke to Oprah about forgiving and still having feelings for Chris Brown, but we shouldn’t shame her for keeping her abuser in her life. [Jezebel]

The Beheld’s Autumn Whitefield-Madrano on Helen Gurley Brown, beauty and effort. [The New Inquiry]

“The Official Guide to Legitimate Rape.” [Jezebel]

In Defence of Lara Bingle.

Not since Nicole Kidman and Delta Goodrem have we seen an Aussie woman polarise the population like Lara Bingle.

Traditionally, we don’t respond well to reality television and its stars who get too big for their britches: remember the Heidi Montag–10 plastic surgeries in one day hullabaloo? Or the whole Kardashian family, especially after Kim’s 72-day marriage and subsequent divorce proceedings. While there are some reality stars who’ve come out on top of the collective consciousness (Nicole Richie, the MasterChef contestants, and mostly those who participate in shows based on talent and skill and from which a winner is chosen based on these things), most are destined for a life of C-list celebrity and/or the descent of their career. Being Lara Bingle so far would indicate the latter.

Almost one million tuned in to the premiere episode, in which the nude-pics-on-the-balcony violation was dealt with, but since then, the show has failed to return to these numbers, with last night’s final coming in last place amongst the three big networks. My party line when it came to watching the show was that “it’s for research”, but despite the inanity that was Being Lara Bingle, I actually like—and have some sympathy for—the show’s namesake for this reason: what has Bingle done to incite such hatred?

On a train ride home on a Tuesday night which meant I’d miss the show (that’s what the Ten video player is for), I raised this issue with friends. One shriveled his face in disgust while the other proclaimed that she didn’t like the way Bingle dragged Michael Clarke’s name through the mud. Upon further inspection, I couldn’t find any evidence to support this assertion; in fact, everything I’ve read and seen on the show indicates that Bingle and Clarke split amicably, and Bingle still speaks of him fondly.

So what did my friend mean by saying that Bingle tarnished Clarke’s image? I dare say what everyone else means when they talk smack about Bingle: that she’s “not good enough” for Clarke. That she’s an untalented famewhore who trades on her looks for money. How this is any different from the career of someone like Gisele Bündchen or Heidi Klum, who also has several of her own reality shows, I don’t know.

What I do know, however, is that the bullying of Bingle is about misogyny. We don’t like her because she’s a young, attractive woman who uses her looks and body to get ahead and is unapologetic about it. What troubles me is that we dedicate countless column inches, a trend which I’m no doubt contributing to with this article, to berating or defending Bingle, whilst male celebs like Ashton Kutcher, his Two & a Half Men predecessor Charlie Sheen, and Bingle’s former lover Brendan Fevola, get away with murder… or what could be seen as attempted murder, in the multiple intimate partner assault allegations against Sheen. (Just look at the Kristen Stewart-cheating scandal. Sure, she’s just as much to blame as her married-with-children car-sex buddy, but we seem to be heaping the shame onto only her.)

Maybe it’s because before all the sex, drugs and debauchery surrounding Sheen, he was once a good actor. Maybe it’s despite—or perhaps because of—Kutcher’s cheating, he’s a very successful businessman as well as actor. Maybe, according to Roger Franklin writing in Good Weekend, Fevola is just a “lovable larrikin” gone down the wrong path. But how are histories riddle with drugs, violence, infidelity, gambling problems, abuses of power and lewd behavior, amongst other things, spread across these three men better—or at least more acceptable—than Bingle’s relatively mundane existence?

Like Kim Kardashian, who rose to notoriety via a sex scandal and not much else, Bingle is apparently trading on her status as a “celebrity” or “personality” as opposed to hard work and talent. The quintessential tall poppy, you might say.

Funnily enough, for those who tuned out after the first few episodes and those who never tuned in at all, they missed out on seeing the “real” Lara Bingle—as the reality effort was so often touted as attempting to show—as the series drew to a close. As friend and fashion designer Peter Morrissey told Bingle last night, “you need to show people the real you,” not the perception of Lara the media presents that they initially expect to meet.

Obviously, no reality show is ever going to project a true image of someone. I dare say we can never truly project a true image of ourselves to even our nearest and dearest, as no one really knows us better and can understand our idiosyncrasies and contradictions better than ourselves. But Lara Bingle isn’t exactly the worst—or most un-real—person to grace our television screens. She may be pretty boring in that girl-next-door way, but at least hasn’t hurt anyone, which is more than I can say for some others.

Related: Shaming Lara Bingle. 

Why Are Famous Men Forgiven for Their Wrongdoings, While Women Are Vilified for Much Less? 

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Charlie Sheen’s Witness. 

Was Kristen Stewart’s Public Apology Really Necessary? 

Lara Bingle in Who: A Prized Tall Poppy Who Polarises.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Why Does Nicole Kidman Inspire Such Vitriol? Seriously, Why? 

[MamaMia] Enough With the Delta Hate. Be Better Than That. 

[TheVine] No One Watched the Finale of Being Lara Bingle.

[TheVine] All Dogs go to Seven. 

Image via PedestrianTV.

TV: Being Bogan Bingle in the Shire.

 

I read a comment on MamaMia after the airing of The Shire on Monday night that asserted with Cronulla girl Lara Bingle and now The Shire, someone from Sutherland is calling the shots on Ten.

Last night on Being Lara Bingle, Lara’s brother Josh let his quintessential Cronulla bogan come through when he pleaded guilty in court to assaulting a fellow racegoer at Melbourne Cup three years ago. In the wake of Lara’s Famous cover, he admonished his sister for being fat. Can we get over this already? As Lara tells Erin McNaught in an interview for MTV, she’s a normal sized girl, so what are the magazines trying to tell women who might be bigger than average?

Lara, Josh and Lara’s friend, Cara, discuss her weight gain after her breakup with Michael Clarke, and Josh says most girls get skinny with stress, but Lara got fat. Lara tells him that most men don’t like anorexic girls like he does, and Josh defends himself, saying he just doesn’t like girls who are “fat”.

Lara tells the pair that if she was that fat when she broke up with Clarke, they should have said something to her. Josh tells her he told her she was fat every single day. Jeez, this guy sounds like a stand-up brother, amiright?

Just like on The Shire, a person’s primary value seems to be placed on their looks. It’s not about a woman’s “brains” or “ability”, as McNaught contends, just as long as they’re skinny.

Related: The Dire Shire.

Shaming Lara Bingle.

Who the Bloody Hell is Body-Bullying Lara Bingle?

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] The Shire: Did You Watch?

Image via Herald Sun.

TV: The Dire Shire.

 

There is no hope left for Australian TV if The Shire is airing on Ten, screamed my Facebook newsfeed last night. My question is: if you hate it, then why are you watching it?

Hypocritical, I know, as I watched the show that’s been dubbed Australia’s version of Jersey Shore but is closer to The Hills or Laguna Beach and it physically pained me. But it’s for research purposes, okay, like Being Lara Bingle and the upcoming Brynne Edelsten show!

Seriously, though, at least the cast of The Hills and Jersey Shore actually had lives, things going for them, and talked about stuff other than the way they look. Snooki was a vet technician before she went to Seaside Heights. Lauren Conrad agreed to have her life documented, with the “dramality” turned up to ten, in a bid to further her fashion career. Even after Heidi Montag underwent her physical transformation, she had other things to worry about: namely, Spencer. Her family and friends were shocked with her surgical enhancement; they didn’t encourage it as a way of life like The Shire cast does.

I’m not going to comment on whether Vernessa, Sophie and Beckaa look good, as there are thousands of online comments trolling their physical appearance to more than make up for my opinion. What bothers me, though, is that all they talk about is their looks. I wish my lips were bigger. I love my boob job. Let me suck the fat out of your thighs. Would you rather your children be pretty or smart? Gag me. At least Beckaa talks about money and shopping to break up the monotony of her recent Dubai nose job and whether she should get a breast augmentation.

The other “characters” whose looks aren’t their primary focus can’t act for shit. At least Lara Bingle feigns shock at her bestie and brother hooking up well. Former lovers Mitch and Gabrielle just widen their eyes and wiggle their foreheads up and down at each other. Which is more than Sophie and Vernessa can say…

But with all the backlash and pure virtriol being spewed on social media—and at water coolers today, no doubt—you have to wonder if Ten is taking the mickey. Of course they would have to know the dire lack of entertainment The Shire provides and are poking fun at the fact that these people exist, that they can make a show out of it, and that people will watch. The Shire might be getting attention for all the wrong reasons, but Ten’s the one who’s having the last laugh.

Related: Shaming Lara Bingle.

Brynne Edelsten’s “No Barbie”, But Should She Aspire to Be?

Image via Ten.

TV: Being Lara Bingle—What is Normal?

 

Last night we got a glimpse into the rigmarole that goes into Being Lara Bingle.

Lara attends Fashion Week and doesn’t like her hair and makeup done for her by her friend and stylist. She thinks she looks too dirty and her features don’t stand out (funny, I thought the same thing when I saw pap photos of her from the events), her hair is “too tight” and she “looks bald”, and she has a pimple coming up, which all-round nice guy Kyle Sandilands doesn’t fail to point out when Lara’s a guest on his radio show.

Juxtaposed with this is Lara’s insistence that she’s just “one of the boys” when she goes waterskiing with some friends in Cronulla. She says she’s a tomboy at heart. I’m not even going to go into the gender constructs at play here…

Moving on to what “normal people” do; apparently it’s not walking around your house naked. So we’re still on the naked photos from last week, then. Lara’s mum seems like a total bitch and obviously favours older brother Josh as she rips Lara to shreds for being “immature” and stupid for being caught in those pictures. I’ve said it once; I’ll say it again: it’s not normal not to walk around in your own home—indeed, in your own bedroom—naked. I admire Lara’s composure when she spoke about the scandal on The Project, which was filmed for her show, but it’s getting to the point now where I wish she had’ve just told everyone who’s got a problem with the nude pics that being naked is natural and she’s got nothing to be ashamed of.

Related: Lara Bingle in Who: A Prized Tall Poppy Who Polarises.

Shaming Lara Bingle.

Image via Ten.

Magazines: Lara Bingle in Who—A Prized Tall Poppy Who Polarises.

 

Following on from Being Lara Bingle’s debut on Tuesday night, Bingle is profiled in this week’s Who. While the actual show wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped it would be, the article does address some issues about Bingle’s public persona and just how hateful some people find her.

For example, one of the early creators of the reality show, John McAvoy of Eyeworks, said he “was intrigued at the obsession with her… She polarises like almost nobody else.”

But why so?

Bingle herself thinks it’s because of “this tall-poppy syndrome in Australia, it’s never ending.” True that. Just look at Australia’s sweetheart Delta Goodrem, who has apparently gotten too big for her boots coaching other young singers on The Voice.

Perhaps the most insightful comments about how people see Bingle—as someone who’s capitalising on her looks as her primary skill, and should be hated for it, I think—come from her bestie, Hermione. She says her new boyfriend, fashion designer Gareth Moody, “is able to love both sides [of Lara, the public Lara and the very private Lara], and not many men in her life have ever been able to do that. Lara usually attracts men who have massive egos—she represents a prize, she is someone who feeds their egos.”

Brendan Fevola comes to mind…

Related: Shaming Lara Bingle.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Delta Goodrem: What’s With All the Hate?

Image via Who.