TV: Paper Giants 2—Modern Day Magazine Wars.

paper giants magazine wars

ABC’s two-part sequel to 2011’s Ita Buttrose biopic, Paper Giants 2: Magazine Wars, culminated last night with the death of Nene King’s husband, Princess Di, and the integrity of gossip magazines.

It’s interesting that the miniseries that charts the rise and rise of Woman’s Day under the leadership of King to overtake New Idea as the premier women’s weekly magazine in Australia aired at the time of all the hullaballoo surrounding the rights to publish pictures from Jennifer Hawkins’ Bali wedding.

For those who haven’t been keeping score, Bauer Media’s Woman’s Day paid upwards of $300,000 to publish exclusive pictures from the former Miss Universe’s wedding to long-time beau Jake Wall, but not before Channel 7, and their associated print platform, Who magazine, put paparazzi pics from a hovering helicopter into the public domain. Sounds like a storyline from the next instalment of Paper Giants

Magazine Wars addresses the pursuit by the paparazzi for the hottest pics during the height of the public’s obsession with the royals, Squidgygate, Camillagate and, of course, Princess Diana’s death, which was arguably caused by the paps. This is juxtaposed with the diving accident death of King’s husband, Pat, whose body has never been found, and King suddenly found herself on the pages of the magazines instead of dictating what was on them. While King and boss Kerry Packer stare at the word “Killer” spray-painted in red on the roller door to ACP’s parking garage and the Woman’s Day office gets threatening phone calls, King laments that she’s only giving the people what they want, before the closing credits roll against a backdrop of Paris Hilton in jail, Anna Nicole Smith’s tragic downfall and Kim Kardashian’s bikini body.

Woman’s Day and its magazine war with New Idea may have been partly responsible for Australia’s growing obsession with celebrity culture, but King’s right: magazine circulation may be dwindling currently, but for a while there gossip rags were modern culture’s guilty pleasure du jour, and that obsession has transferred online to TMZ, Perez Hilton and the like. Princess Di and her ilk may have tried to escape the paparazzi, but in this day and age, they’re an accepted part and parcel of being in the public eye.

Related: Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Woman’s Day Paid More Than $300,000 for Jennifer Hawkins’ Wedding Shots. Then This Happened…

Guest Post: Rihanna’s “Man Down”—Revenge is a Dish Best Served in Cold Blood.

All who know me, know that I love to dance. Put on a song with a good beat that is repeatedly played on a commercial radio station and I am one of the first on the dancefloor. I really enjoyed Rihanna’s earlier work (“Umbrella” and “Please Don’t Stop the Music” come to mind), but her endeavour of recent into an edgier, (dare I say?) overly-sexualised style is worrisome to me.

Let me state that Rihanna, whether she wishes to be or not, is a role model. Anyone who graces the cover of a gossip magazine or whose songs are played on child-friendly radio stations are role models, and should be aware of it. Paparazzi and gossip mags have been around for a long time now and anyone who ventures into the world of Hollywood or reaches household name-status, must be aware that every inch of their life will be scrutinised by the critics and idolised by the young. So when Rihanna comes out with songs such as “S&M” and “California King Bed”, she is exploiting her body and over-exposing the young to sexuality and sending bad messages.

A recent discussion with Scarlett brought Ri-Ri’s newest clip, “Man Down”, and un-role model-like behaviour, to my attention. Scarlett described the clip to me by stating that it related to Rihanna being raped and then her seeking justice by killing him. I was also aware that the clip begins with her hiding, watching him, shooting him then flashing back to the previous day and to a scene that implies rape.

While this is a brief description of the clip, and I have since watched it and read the lyrics, I am outraged that Rihanna would openly promote such revenge. Yes, rapists should be brought to justice, but there is a legal system put in place to deal with such criminals*. Removing the idea of rape from the equation, Ri-Ri is advocating vengeance, which is not appropriate behaviour to uphold with young and impressionable fans watching on.

“An eye for eye”, “two wrongs make a right’” and “tit for tat”, should not be taught to children. Revenge is an notion of “equality of suffering”, forcing pain and anguish on someone to the same, if not greater, extent than one originally experienced. It is not a virtuous quality to have and should not be treated as such.

As a role model, Rihanna should be promoting good qualities to have: heart, faith, strong will. Rather than glamorise payback, she should advocate loving thy neighbour. Revenge is a way of saying you are not secure in your ability to grow, and learn from life’s hardships.

Yet Rihanna repeatedly conducts inappropriate behaviour for her fans to idolise. Sure, many stars are in a similar boat in that they bare their naked bodies for camera phones, stumble intoxicated out of clubs and adhere to dangerous diets, but the meaning in Rhianna’s songs is just as damaging to those easily influenced: her young fans.

*I do not wish to belittle the intense agony and disgust one must feel after they have been raped. I am lucky to never have been in this situation and hope I never am, but I can only imagine that your thoughts are not clear, you are incredibly distraught, and the death of your attacker might seem like the only answer.

—Katie Blush.

Related: “Chains & Whips Excite Me”, Take 2.

“Chains & Whips Excite Me…”: The Underlying Message in Music Videos.

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

Picture Perfect.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Rihanna Shoots Her Rapist in Her New Video.

[Fox News] Rihanna’s Murder of Rapist in “Man Down” Video: Empowering or Dangerous?

Images via YouTube.

TV: Lumberjack Chic on Glee.

Geek chic, celebrity incognito and lumberjack chic are three of my favourite styles of dress. What are they, you ask? Allow me to explain.

Geek chic, noun. Combining a preppy style of dress with grunge. Think Marc Jacobs and Tavi Gevinson. NOT Rachel Berry. (Last night’s episode of Glee assured us that Rachel will never be seen as a fashion icon.)

Celebrity incognito, noun. Used to describe someone who is dressed like a celebrity on the run from the paparazzi. Any combination of oversized sunglasses, large takeaway coffee, layering à la Mary-Kate Olsen, and objects to obscure the face. Essentially, this is a term that cannot be described.

Lumberjack chic, noun. The advancement of traditional lumberjack garb, such as plaid and fur trimming, from the timber yard to the runway. DSquared² are a major proponent of this look.

Lumberjack chic, in particular, graced our screens on Glee last night as Rachel, Finn et al. belted out the “anthem” “Sing” by My Chemical Romance. Even Sue Sylvester got in on the action with a tartan version of her trademark tracksuit. Although I’m not so sure about Finn channelling his stepdad Burt Hummell with that red beanie…

Oh well; you can’t hold the plaid down.

[Girl with a Satchel] Cute & Chic This Week: Check, Mate!

Image via YouTube.

Chase You Down Until You Love Me, Paparazzi…

The following is based on a 2006 uni essay I wrote about the camera as an intruder, so sorry for any overly academic phrasing. I have attempted to bring it into the modern day with less formal language after reading an article on Jezebel, “The Day I Trailed a Paparazzi” in which—what else?—one of the blog’s writers trailed a paparazzo for a day.

Is the camera an intruder? Some would say that, in this day and age, with advanced photographic technology and increased access by photojournalists to worldwide events, it is. However, others assert that because of this advanced photographic technology and increased access, paired with the public’s growing need, and right, to know and see, that the camera it is not.

In terms of the cult of celebrity and the growing phenomenon of the paparazzi, privacy is a major issue. Peter Howe, in his book Paparazzi, provides this definition of the occupation:

“It refers to those photographers who seek out and follow celebrities… in order to photograph them in their most unguarded moments. In short, it’s taking photographs you shouldn’t take in places you shouldn’t be”.

However, some might argue that in becoming a movie star or rock star, and thereby a celebrity, you give up your right to privacy. Privacy laws in the US, specifically in Los Angeles where most paparazzi dwell, state that “if the subject of the photograph can reasonably expect privacy in a specific situation, such as inside his home, photographs of such situations cannot be published without permission”. And, as is evident in any glossy tabloid, most paparazzi shots are taken in public places, such as shopping strips and restaurants. “The consensus of opinion among the paparazzi is that the celebrities get the privacy they deserve, and that if you really don’t want to be photographed, then you don’t go to eat at Mr. Chows or the Ivy, where there are always photographers,” says Howe.

French theorist Roland Barthes states that “people change when they’re aware they’re being photographed.” So “when long lenses can ‘trespass’”, “the traditional definitions of privacy may not apply”.

The paparazzi are viewed as the most morally and ethically irresponsible photographer in the business but, “if everyone hates their work, why are they the best-paid and busiest photojournalists in the world?” asks Howe.

Our obsession with celebrity has only grown since I originally wrote this article back in 2006, a time which was already seeing the tabloid market explode, causing “the number of paparazzi to quadruple”, explains co-owner of L.A. paparazzi firm Bauer and Griffin, Randy Bauer, in an article from Cosmopolitan that same year.

Increasingly, blogs have become the stratosphere through which paparazzi pics circulate, however magazines still pay the big bucks. The first pictures of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and their adopted son Maddox on a beach in Africa sold for $100,000; a far cry from the $6.68 million People magazine paid for the exclusive photographs of Pitt, Jolie and their first biological child, Shiloh.

In the five years since Pitt & Jolie got together and were hunted by the paparazzi (Wagner, a paparazzo who participated in a story on Jezebel, asserts that family pics of the couple are still the highest fetching shots), reality TV has reached its pinnacle, with celebs like Kim Kardashian milking their celebrity for all its worth; sad sacks like Lindsay Lohan and Heidi Montag tipping off the paparazzi in order to sell shots of themselves and keep their names in the media; and those in a league of their own, like Lady Gaga, whose song “Paparazzi” and albums “The Fame” and “The Fame Monster” take the piss out of the very machine that made them and creating a new definition of the über-celebrity/icon.

As above, though, the paparazzi are predominantly viewed in a negative light, not only by serious art photographers and the general public but, obviously, the stars they photograph. Kristen Stewart, for example, is one star who has been vocal in her dislike for the paparazzi; those in opposition to her stance might use the argument above, that to have success in the acting world is to accept the constant presence of photographers. Especially when you’re one half of the most talked about couple since the Jolie-Pitts. Elsewhere, the Jezebel article, written by Dodai Stewart, has a focus on Michael Douglas, who is receiving treatment for throat cancer, and the unremitting swarm of photographers outside his house every day. Is hounding a sick man taking our obsession with celebrity too far? American author and journalist Nathaniel Parker Willis says that, “the idea [is] that to really know someone, we must know their private life”.

From the Cosmo article: “[the paparazzi] can make celebrities feel anxious, depressed, and even mildly agoraphobic” That explains the notorious picture of Cameron Diaz, with then-boyfriend Justin Timberlake, attacking a paparazzo, then!

But, increasingly celebs are embracing the paparazzi, realising that if they work in cooperation with them, their public lives will be less tumultuous.

Stewart relays her story about Wagner trailing Liev Schreiber and his son with Naomi Watts, into the subway. After talking to the subject for several minutes, Wagner tells Schreiber that he’s “gotta get a picture of you”, and “Liev said sure, put the kid on his shoulders and let Wagner snap away… No other photographers were around, so it’s an exclusive shot.” Wagner gets paid, Schreiber comes across as a cool family man; it’s a win-win situation.

Celebs with kids can get a bit weird about them being photographed, understandably, and in the same article, when Wagner encounters Watts with the kids, she kindly asks him not to take pictures, and he obliged. See, Hollywood dwellers? There’s no need to get violent with the paps. (Granted, the pics of Schreiber and Watts were taken in New York City, where the paparazzi scene is less brutal than in Los Angeles, and there seems to be a certain air of respect between subject and object.)

Other NYC dwellers such the cunning Sarah Jessica Parker, have some up with ways of making themselves less desirable targets:

“‘[SJP] wears the same thing everyday,’” he [Wagner] says. ‘On purpose. Because you talk about this today, then she wears it tomorrow, then what do you have to say? Nothing.’”

There is almost an element of protection there, too: provided both parties behave themselves and there exists a certain professional relationship, when your every move is recorded on camera, it’s got to be mighty hard to be mugged or attacked. Although, the victims of Alexis Neiers and her young-Hollywood burglary bling ring probably don’t subscribe to this school of thought.

Still, the opinion among the stars, the paps and the consumers who view their snaps on blogs and in magazines and newspapers, is that celebrities need the paparazzi to generate publicity around them, and the paps need to earn a buck. “An interdependency develops between them,” says Howe.

Stewart sums the cycle up nicely:

“We’re interested in celebrity minutiae. Despite ourselves. It is possible to be fascinated and repulsed at the same time. You can find celebrities appealing while finding the gossip culture appalling. We buy the magazines, hate them for lying to us, critique them, laugh at them, talk about them with our friends and buy the magazines again the next week. If you’ve ever read a gossip site or flipped through a celebrity weekly, you’re part of the system: the paparazzi take pictures for the mags and blogs, the mags and blogs exist because there is an audience.”

Related: Poor Little Rich Girl: Lindsay Lohan in Who.

Poor Little Rich Girl: Who Cover Girl Heidi Montag.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] The Day I Trailed a Paparazzo.

[Vanity Fair]: The Suspects Wore Louboutins.

Event: This is a Story About a Girl Named Britney… I Mean Lucky! Britney Spears Cabaret Review.

I’ve been busting to see Britney Spears: The Cabaret (formerly known as Britney Spears: ’Tegrity ) since I first read about it God knows where about a year ago, and last Wednesday, I finally saw it.

I was expecting big things from Christie Whelan, whose one woman cabaret (albeit with piano player and somewhat of a therapist/shoulder to cry on for Britney, Mathew Frank) deals with the ups and downs of Britney’s career, with a whole lot of satire and tragicomedy thrown in there.

According to faux-Britney’s Facebook page, the Sydney Morning Herald called it “hilariously sad and sadly hilarious”, which I think sums it up nicely.

The show began with Whelan singing “Circus”, with wild psych-ward Britney eyes. She went over Britney’s early career, using props such as a hula hoop and twirling baton, “learning… that crossing your legs is pretty important during a ballad on a stool” and incorporating the signature Britney “-ayy” (as in, “Oh bab-ay, bab-ayy”).

Most of the show is actually hilariousmy favourite line from the night was from the aforementioned “Lucky”: “If there’s nothing missing in my life, then why do I attack the paparazzi with an umbrella… at night?”but towards the end, in signature cabaret style, Whelan discussed the trials and tribulations of Britney’s later life and it is genuinely saddening. The show ends on this note, which at first left an undesirable taste in my mouth, but I think that was Whelan’s goalwhile Britney Spears is über-spoofable in all her white trash glory, what with dropping her kids while accessorising with Ed Hardy and Daisy Dukes, but underneath it all, she’s a deeply sad and scared girl who’s not yet a woman. And whose Dad controls her money… at night.

[Facebook] Britney Spears: The Cabaret.