On the (Rest of the) Net.

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Women of colour’s sexuality in Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” VS. J.Lo and Iggy Azalea’s “Booty”:

“I’m not saying that any time a woman displays her body it has to be subversive or a statement; rather, it all contributes to the way women’s bodies are seen in media, so we should be mindful of that.” [The Music]

I wrote about the women of Masters of Sex. [TheVine]

Household chores aren’t a woman thing: they’re a person thing. [Jezebel]

When celebrities become spokespeople for feminism. [The Guardian, Kill Your Darlings]

“There’s something suspicious about anyone eager to identify with the oppressed”: on male feminists. [The Cut]

Cosmopolitan US editor Joanna Coles talks about the magazine changing its politics. [NPR]

On the semiotics of the Basic Bitch. [The Cut]

And a “thot” is like the black version of a Basic Bitch: “both pinpoint a woman’s consumption habits in order to impugn her character”. [Slate]

Image via Hip Hip ‘n’ More.

The Changing Face of the Reality Singing Competition.

american idol judging panel jlo steven tyler randy jackson

There was a time, ten or so years ago, when American, and then Australian Idol, hit our screens and was judged by washed-up middle-aged music industry big wigs, like Simon Cowell, Mark Holden, Ian “Dicko” Dickson and the token women on the panel, Marcia Hines and Paula Abdul. These judges were mostly respected, if unfamiliar to Idol’s target demographic. Apart from Abdul’s “Opposites Attract”, I wouldn’t have known any of them from a bar of soap.

Not only was this before Britney, J.Lo, Mariah et al. demanded millions to sit in the judging chair, but it was also prior to the influx of talent shows; reality shows in general, really. Now we have myriad Got Talent’s, Voices’s, X-Factor‘s and the truckload of former and current stars it brings with it.

x factor australia judges

For every Britney and Christina, whose careers have been languishing in the pop wasteland for the last few years and could be helped by a judging role, there’s a Nicki Minaj, whose choice to judge the latest season of American Idol in the prime of her career baffles me. And we can’t forget Jennifer Lopez, who was the epitome of irrelevance prior to taking on the gig, and is now once again one of the highest earning performers in the industry (thanks, in no small part, to her franchise of perfumes) and deservedly so, as I saw her in concert last year and she is the consummate performer. Closer to home, Guy Sebastian, a reality singing competition winner himself, had a sprinkling of top ten and number one hits in the last few years, but really hit the big time with the Eve and Lupe Fiasco collaborations, “Who’s That Girl?” and “Battle Scars”, respectively, released after his turn as a judge on The X Factor.

x factor judging panel britney spears demi lovato simon cowell

So the “expert” record industry execs have pretty much gone the way of Dicko, albeit with the mainstays Cowell (The X Factor in the U.S.), L.A. Reid (ditto) and Randy Jackson from the original series of Idol, to make way for younger, sexier and more relevant judges, sometimes with an overhaul in between each season. And then there are the performers so out of place that were obviously hired ’cause everyone else turned them down: Demi Lovato, Khloe Kardashian (as a host) and, arguably, Nicki Minaj.

I think the new season of Idol’s focus on the feud between Mariah Carey and Minaj hinders not only the show (it’s about the TALENT), but also Nicki’s career in the long run. 2012 was perhaps Minaj’s strongest year to date, with “Superbass” being certified platinum, and “Starships” dominating the airways. While she’s never had a number one hit on the U.S. Billboard charts, Minaj was infiltrating pop culture at warp speed, so to her it might have seemed logical to dominate reality television as well. But, to me, singing competition judging panels are the domain of has-beens; people who’ve been down a similar road and can offer advice on the highs and lows of stardom. Who knows? Maybe Minaj will be the one to change that.

What do you think? Do you long for the no-frills early days of Idol, or are you all for big names on the judging panel overshadowing the talent?

Images via People, Wikipedia, Digital Spy.

Movies: What to Expect When You’re Expecting—Adoption, Choice & Bacne*.

 

Aside from all the happy endings and Brooklyn Decker’s unrealistic sneeze-push delivery, there were some poignant pregnancy and child rearing issues at play in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, a star-studded flick in the vein of Valentine’s Day, New Years Eve and He’s Just Not That Into You, which takes only its name from the ’80s self-help book.

Out of all the children being brought into the world/movie, Jennifer Lopez’s journey is the most realistic. When her and her husband, Alex, realise they’re being fast-tracked to adopt a baby in Ethiopia, the cracks in their relationship begin to show. Alex is worried he’s not ready for a child and won’t love a baby that’s not biologically his. Lopez’s Holly has a breakdown when she loses her job after they spend up big on baby items and move into a house they can’t afford. “I’m the one who made us spend all our 401K on three rounds of IVF. I’m the one who can’t do what a woman is supposed to be able to do [get pregnant],” she cries.

As I’ve written before, I don’t want biological children and I don’t personally agree with IVF for the reason that women like Alex shouldn’t be made to feel like they’re failures by society for not being able to conceive a child or not wanting them at all. I also think adoption should be made easier as a first option. I’m glad the movie chose to show this (along with Anna Kendrick’s character’s miscarriage).

Weight loss reality show trainer Jules Baxter, played by Cameron Diaz, comes to the realisation that a woman’s body is no longer her own when she’s carrying a child to term. “Everybody’s got an opinion not only about me, but about my baby before it’s even born,” she laments. Everyone wants to touch her, to weigh in on her and her partner’s circumcision debate, and to reduce her mobility to bed rest.  When Jules collapses on the set of her show, a doctor confines her to a hotel room for the rest of her pregnancy. “I’m sorry, but you don’t have a choice,” the doctor informs Jules when she protests. With the U.S. becoming more conservative by the second, what with their Personhood movements and restrictions on insurance covering birth control, so many of the choices women have regarding their body are becoming scarce. The irony of exercising the right to choose to have a baby means giving up the right to choose what happens to it whilst a baby is growing in there for Jules.

This is also reflected in Wendy’s (Elizabeth Banks) experience, who is the baby specialist with her own baby book and baby shop but no baby. She’s been trying with her husband Gary for years and only when she gives up do the couple naturally conceive. Wendy the übermum’s pregnancy doesn’t go to (birth) plan—but does come with chronic gas, no “glow” and bacne—which consisted of a drug-free vaginal delivery. Once the pain kicks in and her cervix fails to dilate at the hospital, she changes her mind and begs for an epidural and the doctors advise her she’ll have to go ahead with a C-section. Despite doing “everything right”, when it comes down to the health of baby and mum, Wendy’s choice isn’t the right one.

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Image via Join HD.

Music: Top 11 Songs of 2011.

“Born This Way”, Lady Gaga.

Before it was even released, the world knew that “Born This Way” was going to define 2011, if not for its controversial comparison to Madonna’s “Express Yourself”, then for Glee’s 90-minute special dedicated to the anthem. Gaga was accused of racism and plagiarism for the song, which spawned a website in which gay users can upload images and affirmations. Like it or loath it, you’ve got to agree that Gaga has her heart in the right place with this one.

“Friday”, Rebecca Black.

Ahh, the song that you can never get out of your head. While I think “Friday” is the work of a genius (Lady Gaga thinks so, too!) and enjoy bopping around to it, grabbing my bowl, grabbing my cereal, going to the bus stop, choosing which seat to take, I understand that the majority of the world doesn’t feel the same. But for a viral video, you’ve got to give the girl props for permeating the zeitgeist so.

“Rolling in the Deep”, Adele.

I’ve only recently gotten into Adele, but now that I have, I could listen to her voice for hours. Whether it’s “Someone I Used to Know”, “Turning Tables” or “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, as opposed to “Rolling in the Deep”, you can’t deny that Adele was everywhere in 2011. And she was warmly welcomed for her heartbreaking love songs and her alternative look.

“Party Rock Anthem”, LMFAO.

Up until a few days ago when I asked my friend April which songs she thought I should include in this list, I thought this song was called “Shuffling”! No matter; the whole world has picked up on the gist and beat of the song, and that’s all that really matters, right?

“Moves Like Jagger”, Maroon 5.

Another song that I was oblivious to until recently. Rather, I was oblivious to who sung it, even though the vocals of Christina Aguilera were unmissable. My awakening to “Moves Like Jagger” came the night of my birthday party, when a random partygoer likened my moves to being even better than Jagger’s!

“Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”, Katy Perry.

The song is somewhat forgettable, but Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” was all about the film clip, featuring the aforementioned Rebecca Black, some guys from Glee, Hanson, and Kenny G.

“(Run the World) Girls”, Beyonce.

While “(Run the World) Girls” isn’t by a long shot the best song on Beyonce’s latest album, 4, it was the one that set the ball rolling for total 2011 Beyonce domination. For my money, “Countdown” and “Best Thing I Never Had” are better, but the controversy the song stirred up and the film clip are what make the song rate.

“Somebody I Used to Know”, Gotye.

Until I YouTubed this song just then, I’d never heard it before. But I’d heard the hype surrounding it. While alternative Australian music isn’t really my cup of tea, it does invoke a certain nostalgia of music my parents would play when I was a child, like Cat Stevens and some others I can’t quite put my finger on.

“Super Bass”, Nicki Minaj.

If it weren’t for the Ellen show sensations Sophia Grace and Rosie, “Super Bass” wouldn’t hold such a special spot in my heart(beat running away)! Is that wrong…?

“On the Floor”, Jennifer Lopez.

This time last year J.Lo couldn’t have been less relevant. Whether it’s the calibre of “On the Floor” (one friend is particularly irked by the “Back it up like a Tonka truck” line from Pit Bull!) or her highly publicised divorce from Marc Anthony (how fitting that the title of her latest album should be Love?), J.Lo was back in a big way in 2011.

“We Found Love”, Rihanna.

Rihanna also had a big 2011, and it was hard to choose just one of her myriad of songs from the past year. I have a penchant for “Only Girl in the World”, which was officially released in 2010 but seemed to transfer over into 2011, and there’s also “Man Down”, “S&M”, “California King Bed” and “Cheers (Drink to That)” that were hits last year. And of course, we can’t forget the hullabaloo that resulted from the filming of the video for “We Found Love”. Farmers and Irish fields, anyone?

So which were your favourite songs of 2011?

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

Battle of the Friday Anthems: Rebecca Black VS. Katy Perry.

Beyonce: Countdown to Overexposure.

Rihanna’s Man Down—Revenge is a Dish Best Served in Cold Blood.

Rihanna’s “S&M”: Is It Really So Much Worse Than Her Other Stuff?

Hollywood Pregnancies—There’s Something in the Water.

 

You might remember a few years ago, in 2007, when it seemed like every celebrity was pregnant, and some surprisingly so. Nicole Richie with Harlow, Christina Aguilera with Max, Nicole Kidman with Sunday, Gwen Stefani with Zuma, Angelina with the twins, Jessica Alba with Honor, Jennifer Lopez with her twins… it was just never ending!

I was surprised back then to never read an article on the phenomenon. (Then again, I wasn’t as immersed in the fledgling blogosphere at that time and kept my celebrity trend reading to the weeklies and monthlies.) Now I finally get to write about it.

Opening up this week’s Who (and Famous, which came out today, asserting that Blake Lively’s pregnant. She probably just ate too much Thanksgiving turkey. Leave her alone!), a spate of celeb mums-to-be greeted me from its pages. Kourtney Kardashian, Jessica Simpson, Beyonce, Hilary Duff, Jennifer Garner, perhaps Kate Middleton. Now this is a high-profile list! Babies by Jessica, Beyonce and Kate have been long awaited, so expect to see a lot more of their bumps in the media. That’s not to mention how often we’ll see their offspring in the pages of the glossies after the births!

I love few things more than bump-watches and babies, so I’ll be keeping a keen eye on the growing stomachs of these celebs. Especially Beyonce, who, after appearing on Sunday Night a couple of months ago, sparked a faux-bump furor over her creased belly. Do we have another Katie Holmes-Suri saga on our hands?

Related: Beyonce: Countdown to Overexposure.

Images via Who, The Hollywood Gossip.

Magazines: People’s Sexiest Man as Relationship Counselling Tool?

 

In this weekend’s Sunday Life, Clem Bastow writes about Ryan Gosling and celebrity crushes as being good for a relationship.

The article got me thinking about how Ryan Gosling—who’s held a soft spot in most women’s hearts since The Notebook, but has really launched himself into the ideal man stratosphere in 2011, with his “Photoshopped abs” and busting up fights in the streetlost out to People’s Sexiest Man Alive Bradley Cooper in this year’s contest.

Bastow’s article heavily focuses on the (imaginary?) war between these two, which I find quite interesting. In my mind, Cooper has remained irrelevant this year, bar The Hangover Part II and his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it alleged fling with a newly single Jennifer Lopez. Perhaps if this was 2009, Cooper would have rightly won the competition. But how can you compete with Feminist Ryan Gosling, rescue dogs, faux tattoos, Emma Stone and that drawling, brooding thing Gosling has going on?

I’m not even a Ryan fan, per se, but I can see People made the wrong choice.

What do you think? Cooper or Gosling? Or someone else? Should we even be celebrating the rating of a man’s sexiness? (If it’s based on looks alone, which I believe Cooper’s win is, then perhaps it’s not such a good idea. But sexiness encompasses a whole host of qualities other than how a man looks out of his shirt, and Gosling certainly possesses said qualities.)

Elsewhere: [Sydney Morning Herald] Can a Crush Be Good for You?

[Feminist Ryan Gosling] Homepage.

[Jezebel] Watch Ryan Gosling, Hero, Break Up a Random Street Fight.

[Jezebel] Heroes Protest Ryan Gosling Losing “Sexiest Man Alive” Title Outside People Offices.

Image via Feminist Ryan Gosling.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Oh, the horror! The least sexy “sexy” Halloween costumes. [Jezebel]

Beyonce and beauty. [Girl with a Satchel]

How to make love like a feminist. [Feminaust]

More on the Zooey Deschanel-femininity-feminism debate:

“Where are the sitcoms written by and starring women of color, lesbian and bisexual women, women whose bodies don’t fit into sample-size clothing? Where are the scripts about women who hate movies like Dirty Dancing, who attack every problem with unflagging rationality, who don’t really enjoy baking cupcakes or sewing clothes? These women are no worse or better than the kind of woman Deschanel epitomizes—but they exist, and Hollywood would be a far more interesting place if it began representing them, too.” [HuffPo]

How to be “a man”:

“I heard a woman shout, ‘Be a man!’ and I briefly wondered why it wasn’t acceptable to slap that bitch, thinking: What the fuck does she know about it? How can any woman ever tell me how to be man, when her father wasn’t there even when he was in the room, or his spine was removed vertebrae by vertebrae with the soft touch of her mother’s pointy claws? Her shout makes me realize that someone didn’t do his job, which makes us all suffer, so she calls us something she doesn’t understand and we don’t know how to be.” [The Good Men Project]

Jersey Shore’s Snooki, that punch, and male-on-female violence. [Jezebel]

In defence of J.Lo. [Jezebel]

There’s no such thing as the straight, white male underclass. [MamaMia]

You’d have to be pretty dumb as an Australian, no matter your age, to risk a “Bali high” after the Shapelle Corby/Bali nine media circuses. [Adelaide Now]

The tragic life of sex-bomb Anna Nicole Smith:

“Sex occupied an odd purpose in her life: She seemed often to give it for reasons that had little to do with her personal pleasure, and when she had it she typically demanded it take place in the dark. She wrote in her diary, ‘I hate for men to want sex all the time. I hate sex anyway.’” [New York Magazine]

Gender, politics and weight. [Washington Post]

Plastic surgery as spiritual healing. [Washington Post]

Some more on Julia Gillard and sexism. [Slate]

“Six Myths About Sex & Gender, Busted.” [Jezebel]

How to be a woman in the U.S. [Jezebel]

Images via Jezebel, New York Magazine.