All Dogs Go to Seven.

This article was originally published on TheVine on 9th July, 2012.

As Australia’s Got Talent nears its grand final, I find myself wondering why the hell the scandalous Kyle Sandilands is still hosting the family show.

You’d have to be oblivious to the Aussie media scene for the past few years not to remember the lie detector-sexual assault incident, the Magda Szubanski-concentration camp comments and the on-air berating of a journalist for her appearance after she expressed concern over the integrity of Sandilands’ and Jackie O’s radio show.

Despite this, Channel Seven still seems to deem him a valuable talent and, perhaps because of this, a host that draws in the ratings. I can understand his presence on a show like Ten’s Can of Worms or The Footy Show on Nine, which aim to shock, but what does Sandilands really bring to the judging panel on a talent show that airs in the kiddie timeslot of 7:30pm? The straight-talking, older white male talent show host trope in the vein of Simon Cowell and Ian “Dicko” Dickson is a tired one. Sandilands may not be causing any trouble at the moment, but you can bet another controversy is right around the corner…  

But Sandilands’ prominence is by no means a standalone occurrence in Seven’s lineup: After it was revealed that former NRL player Matthew Johns was involved in group sex with his fellow Cronulla Sharks teammates and a teenager whose consent was questionable at best, he received his own Channel Seven footy program, the creatively titled Matty Johns Show. And, staying with sportsmen, what about the Ben Cousins doco, Such is Life, which at once tragically and glamorously profiled his life as an addict? What about former Home & Away actor, Lincoln Lewis, whose sex tape with a co-star went public the same day he was announced as a contestant on the dancing show in 2009? Convenient, hey? Did you know fellow H&A alum Dan Ewing was charged with assault against his fiancé at the end of 2011, the same year he was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, a show that loves its bad boys? Speaking of assault, it was only after Matthew Newton beat girlfriend Rachael Taylor in a Rome hotel room in 2010 that he was axed as host of—you guessed it, another family-geared talent show—The X-Factor. I suppose his history of trashing hotel rooms and violence with previous intimate partner Brooke Satchwell was written off as a onetime thing. Remember Axle Whitehead’s public act of indecency at the 2006 ARIA’s was all but forgotten when he moved to Summer Bay and received a gig as host of the network’s World’s Strictest Parents in 2009. And who could forget Brendan Fevola’s illustrious career of AFL tradeoffs, drug- and alcohol-fuelled benders, gambling problems, infidelity, inappropriate picture-taking of Lara Bingle and, just last week, his grammatically-incorrect Twitter tirade against a country footy umpire? Apparently, Channel Seven: Fev was signed up for this years’ season of DWTS as its lovable larrikin.

Television commentator Andrew Mercado put it best two years ago in the wake of the Newton incident when he wrote:

“… [T]he station is chock a block full of bad boys on big pay packets who are being rewarded for their unsavourity [sic] indiscretions with higher profile jobs during the family hour… So let me get this straight—gang bangers, bullies and bashers are in but closeted gay men (like NSW Transport Minister David Campbell) are to be outed on the 6pm News.”

But why? It’s not like any of the abovementioned men—bar perhaps Sandilands, who the general public pretty much abhor—are huge drawcards for the station like Charlie Sheen was for CBS (and, by extension, Channel Nine). Johns is but a blip on the radar of sports programming, Newton and Cousins have descended into the cycle of mental illness, and I challenge any non-H&A fan to identify Ewing by name.

A quick look at the Seven corporate website indicates the male chauvinist pig syndrome transfers from in front of the camera to behind it, with an all-male board of directors and management team. While I’m in no way insinuating that the male bosses at Seven get up to the same kind of extra-curriculars their talent does, could it be a contributing factor to the swept-under-the-rug mentality the commercial channels seem to subscribe to?

If so, could, at the very least, a lone female on the board be the voice of reason? I doubt it. The boys club zeitgeist of most traditional forms of media (nay, most industries in general) is not going to be permeated by one woman alone, despite their best intentions: just look at Mia Freedman’s foray into television at Channel Nine. And why should it be a woman’s job to make sure over-privileged, under-accountable man-children behave in their personal lives? Wouldn’t a better solution be to not reward verbal insults, physical violence, drug use, lewd behavior and sexual assault with free-to-air-time in the first place, regardless of who’s performing it and who’s in charge?

On the other channels, while Channel Ten is debuting Australia’s version of Jersey Shore, The Shire, in a couple of weeks and Sheen’s new vehicle, Anger Management, is sure to be a ratings hit, ABC and SBS push forward with groundbreaking shows that don’t reward the dominant, bad boy bogan culture, like Go Back to Where You Came From (celebrity version coming soon!) and Joe Hildebrand’s Dumb, Drunk & Racist. Unfortunately, the latter two programs appeal to what all-too-often happens to be the minority, while many of the shows listed throughout this piece are geared towards the lowest common denominator: those who are perfectly happy with the status quo or don’t notice what’s wrong with it.

12 Trends of 2012.

Girls (Who Run the World).

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So misogyny may be running wild in the real world, but on TV, girls are calling the shots. We’ve had a bevvy of shows with “girl/s” both in the title and the storylines this year, with 2 Broke Girls and New Girl carrying their success over from 2011. While a lot of the subject matter is problematic, both shows have women carrying the comedy. Which brings us to just plain Girls, which is the brainchild of actor, writer and director Lena Dunham. Girls is not without its problems, either, but its portrayal of young urban women is almost faultless. Rounding out the representation of leading ladies in 2012 we have Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23, Homeland, Revenge, The Mindy Project, Are You There, Chelsea?, Smash, GCB (farewell!), Scandal, Nurse JackieVeep, Emily Owens, M.D., Whitney, The Good Wife and Hart of Dixie.

“Call Me Maybe”.

Until “Gangnam Style” came along, the YouTube Zeitgeist was dominated by one runaway success: Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”. Justin Bieber’s protégé came out of nowhere with the catchiest song of the year, which was subsequently covered by the guys from Harvard’s baseball team, Barack Obama and the Cookie Monster! Talk about diversity!

2012: Apocalypse Now.

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2012 was the year of the apocalypse, with the 21st of December long determined by the Mayans (or Mayan conspiracy theorists) as the day the world ends. You know, until the 7th of December tried to steal its thunder as the apparent recalculated date. Apart from the natural disasters, warfare and massacres, the 21st passed without a nuclear bombing, ice age or attitudinal shift, putting rest to the apocalypse panic. Until the next rapture, anyway…

Shit ___ Say.

It started with a sexist albeit funny YouTube video of a guy in a wig quoting “Shit Girls [Apparently] Say”, which snowballed into “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls”, “Shit New Yorkers Say”, “Shit Christians Say to Jews” and “Shit Nobody Says”. Cue offence.

Snow White.

snow white kristen stewart

Snow White was everywhere this year: Mirror Mirror, Snow White & the Hunstman, Once Upon a Time… Note: overexposure isn’t necessarily a good thing. In fact, I hated Mirror Mirror and Once Upon a Time, and Snow White & the Huntsman was such a snooze-fest I can barely remember what happened (not including Kristen Stewart’s affair with director Rupert Sanders).

50 Shades of Grey.

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On the one hand, E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey has singlehandedly revived the flailing publishing industry, so that’s a good thing. But on the other, it has falsely lulled its legions of (mostly female) fans into a state of apparent sexual empowerment: it’s a book about sex targeted towards women, so that means we’re empowered and we don’t need feminism anymore, right?

Oh, how wrong you Anastasia and Christian fans are…

“Gangnam Style”.

The Macarena of the 21st century, Psy’s horse dance took the world by storm, being performed in conjunction with Mel B on The X Factor, with Hugh Jackman in his Wolverine gloves, on Glee and at many a wedding, 21st birthday and Christmas party.

Misogyny.

Misogyny has long been the focus of feminists, but the word and its meaning really reached fever pitch this year.

After Julia Gillard’s scathing Question Time takedown of Tony Abbott and his sexist ways, people everywhere were quick to voice their opinion on her courage and/or hypocrisy. At one end of the spectrum, it could be said that Gillard finally had enough of the insidious sexist bullshit so many women in the workforce face on a daily basis and decided to say something about it, while at the other, many argued that the Labor party were crying sexism in a bid to smooth over the Peter Slipper slip up.

Julia Baird wrote last month in Sunday Life:

“Her electric speech on misogyny in parliament went beyond the sordid political context to firmly press a button on the chest of any woman who has been patronised, sidelined, dismissed or abused. It crackled across oceans, and, astonishingly, her standing went up in the polls, defying political wisdom that no woman would benefit from publicly slamming sexism.”

Whatever the motivation behind the speech, it went viral, with Twitter blowing up, The New Yorker writing that U.S. politicians could take a page out of Gillard’s book when it comes to their legislative hatred of all things female , laypeople bringing “misogyny” into their everyday lexicon, and Macquarie Dictionary using the momentum to broaden the word’s definition.

Kony.

jason russell kony 2012

The viral doco that had millions of people rushing to plaster their neighbourhood in “Kony 2012” posters on 20th of April to little effect (the campaign’s goal was to catch Joseph Kony by years end) illustrated our obsession with social media, armchair activism and supporting the “cool” charities, not the thousands of worthy charities out there who could actually use donations to help their cause, not to produce YouTube videos and work the press circuit.

I’m Not a Feminist, But…

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While Tony Abbott is clamouring to call himself a feminist to gain electoral favour despite the abovementioned misogyny saga, it seems famous women can’t declare their anti-feminism fast enough.

First we had new mother and Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer jumping at the chance to shun feminism despite the fact that without it she wouldn’t be where she is today. My favourite anti-feminist campaigner Taylor Swift said she doesn’t think of herself as a feminist because she “was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.” Um, Tay? That’s what feminism is, love.

Then there’s Katy Perry, who won’t let the whipped cream-spurting bra fool you: “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women.” Right then.

Garnering less attention, but just as relevantly, was Carla Bruni-Sarkozy asserting that feminism is a thing only past generations need concern themselves with, while in an interview with MamaMia last week, Deborah Hutton also denounced her feminism.

Cronulla.

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The cronies from Sutherland Shire were all over our boxes, primarily on Channel Ten, this year. There was the widely panned Being Lara Bingle, the even worse Shire, and the quintessential Aussie drama set in the ’70s, Puberty Blues.

While these shows assisted in shedding a different light on the suburb now synonymous with race riots, it’s not necessarily a positive one, with The Shire being cancelled and Being Lara Bingle hanging in the balance.

White Girls in Native American Headdresses.

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This one really reared its racist head towards the end of the year, right around the festivities of Halloween and Thanksgiving.We had No Doubt “Looking Hot Racist” and Karlie Kloss donning a headdress for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, in addition to the cultural appropriation of VS’s “Go East” lingerie line, Gala Darling’s headdress furore and Chris Brown dressed as a Middle Eastern terrorist for Halloween.

You’d think we were heading into 1953, not 2013.

Related: Posts Tagged “New Girl”.

2 Broke Girls Aren’t So Broke That They’d Turn to Sex Work.

Posts Tagged “Girls”.

Posts Tagged “Smash”.

Feminism, Barbeque & Good Christian Bitches.

Mirror Mirror Review.

Was Kristen Stewart’s Public Apology Really Necessary?

50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James Review.

Hating Kony is Cool.

Taylor Swift: The Perfect Victim.

Whipped Cream Feminism: The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

The Dire Shire.

Shaming Lara Bingle.

Is Gwen Stefani Racist?

The Puberty Blues Give Way to Feminism.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Why We Need to Keep Talking About the White Girls on Girls.

[io9] Why is Everybody Obsessed with Snow White Right Now?

[The Age] What Women Want.

[The New Yorker] Ladylike: Julia Gillard’s Misogyny Speech.

[Jezebel] Does it Matter if Marissa Mayer Doesn’t Think She’s a Feminist?

[Jezebel] Katy Perry, Billboard’s Woman of the Year, is “Not a Feminist”.

[MamaMia] Meet the Women at Our Dinner Table: Deborah Hutton.

[Daily Life] Carla Bruni’s Vogue Interview has Rough Landing.

[Racialicious] Nothing Says Native American Heritage Month Like White Girls in Headdresses.

[Racialicious] Victoria’s Secret Does it Again: When Racism Meets Fashion.

[Jezebel] Karlie Kloss as a Half-Naked “Indian” & Other Absurdities from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

[xoJane] Fear & Loathing in the Comments Section… And Some Clarity.

[HuffPo] Chris Brown Halloween Costume: Singer Tweets Picture of Himself Dressed Up as Terrorist for Rihanna’s Party.

Images via Collider, Fox News Latino, io9, November Grey, ABC, Now Public, Ten.

TV: The Puberty Blues Give Way to Feminism.

There was an inkling that Ten’s standout show, Puberty Blues, would touch on ’70s-era second-wave feminism a few weeks ago when Sue tried to borrow her boyfriend’s surfboard. Then, last week, she expressed dissatisfaction with their sex life and her partner told her not to “get all femmo” on him. Throw in Sue and Debbie’s strong mothers, and Puberty Blues really taps into “the problem that has no name”—The Feminine Mystique—that both Gary and Debbie’s mums experience, as well.

The show deals tenderly but realistically with Debbie’s parents’ relationship breakdown and how a strong woman in the house both working and doing the domesticities can cause tension in the home. Debbie told her mum in last night’s final that she really admires her for working and having a family, and that makes her believe that she, too, can lead a “big life”.

After saving an old friend from repeated gang rape in the back of a panel van, Debbie and Sue feel empowered and emboldened to do something else with their newfound feminist leanings. So, with nothing to lose in the form of boyfriends and keeping up appearances in the “cool” clique, the young girls the show is centred around venture away from the towels on the beach that is the domain of the “molls” and try their hand in the surf. You go, girls!

Image via This Island Continent…

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Victoria’s Secret gets their racism on with “sexy Geisha” outfits. [Racialicious]

The conundrum of getting cat-called on the street when you’re looking like a piece of shit. [Jezebel]

Is #StopTheTrolls in favour of stopping trolling against some more than others? [MamaMia]

The demise of Channel Ten. [TheVine]

On Lana Del Ray’s naked GQ cover and what it tells us about the value we place on women’s bodies over men’s. [Daily Life]

The 20 kick-ass quotes from 20 kick-ass women at the Democratic National Convention. [Jezebel]

Image via Racialicious.

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]

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: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Born This Way” Episode.

 

The underlying message this week is that there is none: acceptance—of Rachel’s Jewish nose, Quinn’s chubby-checker past and Tina’s “Orient descent”—was right there on the surface for all to see.

This is Glee’s second Lady Gaga-themed episode, the first of which was very Gaga-centric, however this week’s effort kicked last seasons’ butt!

The storyline began with Rachel getting hit in the face by Finn during a dance number, and her doctor recommending she get a nose job to fix her deviated septum, like big-nosed babes, Jennifer Aniston and Ashlee Simpson, before her.

She decides to take angel-faced Quinn along to the appointment, using her nose as an example of what she wants the new and improved Rachel to look like.

This is followed up by a tear-jerking rendition of “Unpretty” by TLC by unlikely soul-sisters Rachel and Quinn.

You might remember a few episodes back (although it’s been so long since a new episode has aired, both on Ten and in the U.S., that you could be forgiven for not remembering) when Quinn morphed from struggling with her social standing after giving birth last season to prom-queen obsessed, “I’m relatively sane for a girl”-espousing zombie.

I didn’t buy it then, and I’m glad we get a more in-depth look at her life now.

Lauren Zizes decides to run for prom queen, with Puck by her side as her king. Most of the non-size-two students at McKinley are ecstatic to see someone who looks like them running for prom queen, which should have given Lauren the heads up that her plan to take down Quinn wouldn’t work: she unearths Quinn’s past as Lucy Fabray, before she transferred to McKinley in eighth grade.

Lucy was overweight, uncool, and bullied constantly at her old school, until she joined ballet, gymnastics and cheerleading, lost weight and asked her parents for a nose job, at which point they began to call her by her middle name, Quinn.

Lauren plasters posters of Quinn as Lucy all over the school, which inadvertently sees Quinn’s approval rating go up 40% because her student body realises she’s not just a vapid beautiful person, but someone with problems and a past, just like them.

But not all of the glee club’s members are accepting that they were “born this way” out in the open.

Santana manages to convince Dave Karofsky to help her get Kurt back to McKinley, or else she’ll tell everyone he’s gay. In turn, her “Macbethian” and “Latina Eve Harrington” ways, she believes, will help her become prom queen.

Eventually, word gets back to Kurt about what’s really going on, and he agrees to return to McKinley on the condition that Karofsky be schooled in acceptance of gays and lesbians, even if he doesn’t come out.

Santana could do well to adopt this school of thought, as she is still in the closet and still in pain that Brittany can’t be with her. Brittany makes Santana a “Lebanese” t-shirt for her to wear in this week’s performance (it was meant to say “lesbian”, but it’s a nice tie in to the “Born This Way” lyrics!)

Of course all the storylines are neatly wrapped up into a special 90 minute package, as is Glee’s style. Emma even manages to address her crippling OCD and goes to therapy.

But I think the most interesting “underlying message” of the episode was Santana’s view at the three-minute mark on changing things you’re not happy with.

As much as, on the one hand, our society preaches self-love and acceptance, what of all the beauty products, foods and exercise regimes that are spruiked to us on a daily basis via all mediums?

I don’t want to turn this into a rant on body image and the affect advertisements, magazines, TV, movies etc. have on it, but Santana does raise a good point: if changing things about you, like Rachel’s nose, Tina’s eye colour, or Sam’s “guppy lips”, makes you feel better about yourself, then so be it.

I got a tattoo a couple of weeks ago because I didn’t like the way the back of my neck looked without one; does that make me “hate myself”? Hell no! Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am confident in who I am, both on the inside and the outside. (Those who don’t just think I’m an arrogant bitch!)

But I think that if you are happy with yourself in general in most aspects of your life and can engage in “active critical thought” about the things you aren’t, what’s a little hairdo change here or gym membership there?

Or—dare I say it?—a nose job?

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Original Song” Episode.

Gwyneth Paltrow Addresses Tabloid Culture & Her Haters.

Glee “Sexy” Review.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Blame it on the Alcohol” Episode.

How to Make a Woman Fall in Love With You, Glee Style.

Glee “Silly Love Songs” Review.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Furt” Episode.

The (Belated) Underlying Message in Glee’s “Never Been Kissed” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Duets” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Grilled Cheesus” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Britney/Brittany” Episode.

Is There Really a Beauty Myth?

Images via Megavideo.