On the (Rest of the) Net.

terry-richardson-miley-cyrus

Stop pigeonholing young women:

“The way Miley Cyrus has been allowed to dominate months of necessary discussion about young women and what they do, about sex and celebrity and the pounding synthetic intersection of the two which is pop music is the ultimate example of our guilty, horny fascination with young girls’ sexual self-exploitation. We have discussed Miley Cyrus as a cipher for precarious womanhood everywhere to the extent that she has functionally become one.

“The ongoing Miley conversation is concern-fapping made flesh. Miley is not the only very young woman doing bold, original or shocking things in public right now, but she’s the one who gets to sum up all girls everywhere. Miley, not Lorde. Miley, not Daisy Coleman. Miley, not Malala Yousafsai. Miley, not Chelsea Manning.

“Of course, young trans women and women of colour, however heroic, could never be everygirl. That’s why Rihanna only gets to be a ‘bad influence’ on girls, but Miley somehow is all girls. She is the way we want to imagine all girls – slender young white innocence forever being corrupted, allowing us to stroke out another horrified concerngasm.” [New Statesman]

And while you’re at it, stop mansplaining the rap game. [Vice]

The evolution of masturbation. [TheVine]

Stephen Milne’s former teammates are closing ranks around him in a bid to discredit raise money for his defence against rape claims. [Daily Life]

Fat is a feminist—and animal rights—issue: PETA’s at it again, shaming women who are over the Plan B emergency contraceptive weight limit into becoming vegan. [Mother Jones]

Peeta Mellark is a Movie Girlfriend. [Monkey See]

WTF does Frida Kahlo need to be “pretty”? [Lip Mag]

Image via High Snobriety.

Event: The Reading Hour.

In celebration of the National Year of Reading, today marks the National Reading Hour. While the exact time frame for the event is sketchy, and anyone who knows me knows I’ll be spending much more than one hour reading today (or on any day, for that matter), the aim of the event is to instill the importance of reading in children. From my point of view, reading is important at all ages and it’s never too late to start. The only downside is there’s less time to read all the fantastic books out there.

So, I’ve decided to get in on the action by going over all the books I’ve read this year and whether I found them good, bad or otherwise and if you should read them, too.

I haven’t read this many books since my uni days, I don’t think, when I was traveling up to six hours a day from country Victoria to Deakin in Burwood. Needless to say, there were a lot of public transport hours that needed filling, and reading was the perfect way to do that. Aside from primary school, of course, when nightly “readers” were a must and I got through several, if not up to a dozen, books a week, uni really got me back in touch with my love for reading; a love without which I wouldn’t be who I am today.

So, without further ado…

My Booky Wook 2 by Russell Brand.

If I if I didn’t have to give this book back to a friend before she moved interstate at the start of the year, I think it would still be sitting in my stack of to-be-read books (like some other borrowed tomes). While it didn’t change my world, and I much preferred Brand’s first memoir, I’m glad to have read it and moved on. Much like Katy Perry. Burn!

The Barbie Chronicles: A Living Doll Turns 40 edited by Yona Zeldis McDonough.

While Barbie is now 53 and there is now thirteen more years of fodder for a compilation of feminist musings on the doll, I really enjoyed this book and ponder it often. Aforementioned interstate friend, Laura, currently has it in her possession. I believe it is out of print now, so I was quite lucky to have happened upon it at my local secondhand bookstore. Pick it up if you get the chance.

Big Porn Inc. edited by Melinda Tankard Reist & Abigail Bray.

I was so looking forward to reading this conservative collection on why porn is bad, and it didn’t disappoint. I didn’t agree with anything in the book, but it was an eye opening look at just how anti-sex (not to mention anti-choice, anti-feminism, anti-vaccination) some people can be. What scares me is that Tankard Reist and Bray’s ideologies could be rubbing off on the susceptible with the release of this book.

The Book of Rachael by Leslie Cannold.

Feminist crusader Cannold looks at what could have been the life of Jesus’ sister, Rachael. What’s more, the book focuses on her relationship with the ultimate betrayer, Judas. It wasn’t mind blowing, but if you’re looking for something to read and want to support local, female writers, this is one for you.

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy.

To be honest, I had lots of things on my mind when I read this so it’s almost like I never read it at all. I found it really hard to get into and to focus on the words on the page. Maybe I’ll watch the movie in an effort to more fully understand the storyline. Shameful, I know.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.

If you haven’t read this book yet, you need to get on it, like, yesterday! So well written, so emotional, so involving and with a massive twist at the end. And please, if you’re thinking about watching the movie (which I haven’t seen yet, so don’t take my word for it: it might even be better than the book), read the book first. Looking back, this is probably the best book I’ve read this year and, dare I say it, ever.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Not the worst teen trilogy out there (I’m looking at you, Twilight Saga), but not the greatest, either. I found the book easy to read and also well written which, again, is more than I can say for Stephenie Meyer.

Fragments by Marilyn Monroe, Bernard Comment & Stanley Buchthal.

This part-coffee table book, part-Marilyn musings tome had been sitting in my pile of to-be-reads for almost a year and a half before I decided to actually read about one of my favourite icons. I enjoyed a rare insight into the mind of the sex symbol herself, but honestly, I think there are probably better books about her out there.

Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling by Bret Hart.

This is the book I spent the most amount of time reading; or rather, it took me the most amount of time to read. It is a hefty memoir, but it’s not exactly written in a challenging tone, either. I quite enjoyed it, all in all, and while you probably need a background knowledge of professional wrestling to get into the book, it was kind of sad reading about all the tragedies in Hart’s life.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier.

I love me some historical fiction and Remarkable Creatures didn’t disappoint. Easy to get into with a bit of fluff, but it has nothing on Girl with the Pearl Earring.

11.22.63 by Stephen King.

This was my first encounter with King, and I quite liked it. He obviously has the suspense/mystery/horror (though you won’t catch me dead with one of his books—nor the movie adaptations—in this genre. I hate horror!) formula down pat. While the title and cover lines were a bit misleading (JFK doesn’t come into it until right near the end, and even then it’s anticlimactic), I really liked it and found out some historical tidbits I didn’t know previously.

The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis.

Easton Ellis is one of those writers who is good in theory, not so good in practice. I still plan on reading all of his efforts, no matter how gory and gratuitously sexy and druggy they are (this one had a central theme of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll in ’80s L.A.… with a side-serving of vampirism!), but sometimes I think he’s a bit over hyped. As was The Informers.

Fables: The Deluxe Editions Volumes 1 & 2 by Bill Willingham.

These are the comics Once Upon a Time is allegedly inspired by, and let me tell you, these are much better than the show. I’m not usually a fan of the comic book format, but I really enjoyed these two. Bring on the next two installments!

Drowned by Therese Bowman.

When I read Drowned, I actually had no idea what the storyline was. I remembered reading an enticing review in The Age a month or two before I convinced a friend to buy it in order for me to borrow it, but other than that, I was clueless. After reading it, it seemed there was no storyline; it was more high-concept literary fiction to my mind. But it was very evocative. Short and sweet.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

I just finished this one on a trip away and I loved it. Similarly to The Black Dahlia, it took me awhile to get into it, concentration-wise, but once I did I found it very enjoyable. The storyline is unique and interesting, and the character development and style were some of the best I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

Music for Chameleons by Truman Capote.

So does reading one short story in the collection count as actually reading the whole of Music for Chameleons?! I bought this book from a secondhand store with the sole intention of reading the Marilyn Monroe chapter and that’s all. Kind of a waste, I suppose, but I like to support small, local businesses!

50 Shades of Grey by EL James.

I have oh-so-ashamedly left this one til last as it is by far the worst, but it’s also the one I’m currently reading. I always said I would never be caught dead reading this mediocre tripe, but after hearing John Flaus and Jess Anastasi (a coincidence her surname is practically the same as the first name of 50 Shades’ protagonist?) discuss the book at the Bendigo Writers Festival, I finally succumbed. The way I look at it, I’m approaching it with a critical eye for the purposes of research. It’s better to have an informed opinion, right? More to come.

What are you going to be reading for the National Reading Hour?

Related: Big Porn Inc. Edited by Melinda Tankard Reist and Abigail Bray Review. 

The Book of Rachael by Leslie Cannold Review.

Bendigo Writers Festival.

Movie Review: The Cabin in the Woods*.

 

For a movie that was shot in 2009, The Cabin in the Woods surprisingly has its finger on 2012 zeitgeist’s pulse. Zombies, The Hunger Games-esque sacrifice, and a Hemsworth brother. But would you expect anything less from a Joss Whedon film?

I will give Whedon and fellow writer Drew Goddard credit for throwing pretty well every horror movie trope at the wall to see what sticks, as Clem Bastow puts it in her favourable review, but I just found it too unreal to suspend my disbelief, if that oxymoron makes sense.

But overall, I thought the premise was a clever one, it just wasn’t executed to my liking (the group of friends I went with all enjoyed it, however). I thought the group of five youths, which we are told are crucial to the story; the spooky setting; and the stereotypical characters (the whore, the virgin, the scholar, the jock and the clown) worked well to lull the audience into a scary movie state of mind. At this point I thought The Cabin in the Woods would be more like Scream; in what way I’m not entirely sure, as I’m still reeling from the violent severing of this idea from my imagination by the second half of the film.

This is where every horror movie villain, with an emphasis on the super natural, comes into play as the characters realise that the “inbred, redneck zombies” aren’t the only terrors they have to deal with: there’s some kind of government body orchestrating the events not just at the cabin, but in similar settings all over the world, whose employees take bets on which villain will be the death of them (head of the operation Hadley has his heart set on meremen. This will later come back to haunt him.) and offer up each fallen archetype as a sacrifice. Any similarities with The Hunger Games (sacrifice! Surveillance! A Hemsworth!) end here, though, when it is revealed that the sacrifices are for anything but the government: they’re to prevent the ancient gods from revolting and overrunning the earth as they did in ancient times.

The voice of reason, Truman (a reference to The Truman Show?), seems to be uncomfortable with his role in the sacrifice, and asks a fellow worker, “Should you really get used to monsters, magic and zombies?” It’s a poignant commentary on our desensitisation to violence: that the government is so willing to offer up five innocent youths as a sacrifice for the greater good is both sickeningly common and, for the sake of the story, noble. This is a sentiment Sigourney Weaver, who makes a fan-boys wet dream surprise appearance as The Director, reiterates at the bitter end.

Proving the virgin stays alive til then (in the vein of Scream’s Sidney Prescott and Halloween’s Laurie Strode, “the virigin’s death is optional, just as long as it’s last” and she—it’s always a she, because women are the ones who should suffer for the rest of their species’ carnal sins, right?—suffers), Dana and stoner Marty (the fact that his pot-smoking cancels out the effect the government’s manipulation has on him could be seen as a pro-stoner statement) piece together the fact that they’re trapped in some kind of “reality show”, and that Dana’s basement reading of a young girls’ diary from 1903 in which her father murders her family was the “choice” the group made as to which villain(s) would come after them. Later, when the two find a loophole and break into the government headquarters, they come face to face with just how many other options they could have “chosen” in the basement.

This is where I think The Cabin in the Woods failed. It was just too much. I loved that they used Anna Hutchison’s Jules as a modern-day Tatum Riley or sorority girl CiCi from Scream and Scream 2, respectively, and Chris Hemsworth, who at the time was a little known Aussie actor, and is now an avenging megastar, as the Janet Leigh or Drew Barrymore of the effort. I also loved that unless the characters “transgress” and buy into the tropes they’ve been manipulated to succumb to, they can’t be punished”. Stoner Marty points this out when he marvels at Jule’s sudden sluttiness and Hemsworth’s Curt’s alpha-male act. I think they could have played a bit more off of this, or the reality TV angle, instead of going the whole hog with government cover-ups, supernatural massacres and ancient god uprisings. Sure, it’s been done before, but I think The Cabin in the Woods had the potential to be the best in this genre. Instead, it’s created a genre of its own. To some, this is better.

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Related: The Hunger Games Review.

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Feminism!

Elsewhere: [TheVine] The Cabin in the Woods Movie Review.

Image via IMDb.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

How Hillary Clinton got cool. [Think Progress]

The Hunger Games and blonde, innocent girls. [New Yorker]

What Lady Gaga’s #PopStarsDon’tEat tweet says about body-policing. [Jezebel]

All you men out there who don’t like risking pregnancy every time you have sex: take the male birth control pledge. Go on, I dare ya. [How About We]

To borrow a line from this post’s author, Lindy West, “… I was just saying the other day that my misogyny didn’t have enough racism in it”, now yours can, too, with Clean & Dry Intimate Wash, an Indian douching and vaginal bleaching product. [Jezebel]

The hen or the egg? Sweden introduces a new, gender-neutral word in place of “she” and “he”. [The Age]

Who needs feminism? I do, because that’s my choice. [ShoutOut! JMU]

Are breast reductions as “superficial” as breast enhancements? [MamaMia]

Do pedophiles deserve privacy? Um, no! [MamaMia]

Will all the pearl clutchers please stop getting so worked up about the response One Direction elicits in teenage girls. [Daily Life]

Image via Texts from Hillary.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Ashley Judd slaps down body- (and face-) shamers. [Daily Beast]

A fictional tale (though a very realistic one) of what it’s like to promise your purity to your dad. [Jezebel]

So Tony Abbott’s sister is gay. Now what? [MamaMia]

Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton et al: don’t hate the player, hate the game. [Daily Life]

Republicans aren’t the only ones making jokes at the ladies’ expense. Obama does it too :( [Jezebel]

The Hunger Games killed it at the box office because Katniss Everdeen was portrayed as a subject as opposed to a “Fighting Fuck Toy”. [Ms. Magazine]

Following on from last week’s Rachel Hills asexuality article, Rachel Rabbit White on “graysexuality”:

“… ‘But sex itself is just a set of physical activities, it’s easy to imagine someone who’s not into them once you take all the symbolism away.’

“Sex positivity works to broaden our understanding of what sex is (e.g., not just penis in vagina, but body part + body part = pleasure). But what if we also set out to broaden our understanding of intimacy—intimacy is not just sex, but also…—perhaps a new picture would unfold. One where people realize they don’t need to have sex when what they want is intimacy. One where, maybe, there would be a little more gray in our sex-drives.” [Jezebel]

An interesting take on all the Snow White reboots. [io9]

What it’s like to be a guy who reads (or read) Judy Blume. [Jezebel]

Women don’t hate other women for being beautiful. They hate them for having delusions of grandeur, like Samantha Brick. [MamaMia]

Mia Freedman interviews Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg about Matthew Newton. Carr-Gregg seems to think we need to reexamine our views around mental illness and give Newton a fair go. Um, the kid’s been charged three times in the past year and beats up people on a regular basis. I’d say he’s been more than given a fair go. What do you think? [MamaMia]

Image via MSNBC.

Movie Review: The Hunger Games*.

 

Now, The Hunger Games is a lesson in how to do young adult with a female in the lead, Stephenie Meyer.

***

I was a bit apprehensive about buying into The Hunger Games hype but, as a blogger, I thought it imperative that I read the book and the see the movie to understand what all the hype was about and, at the very least, to get a blog post out of it. (That’s my reasoning for going to see American Pie: The Reunion next week, anyway!)

I’d read all the blog posts and cultural analyses of the film and book before I went to see it last Monday and finished it over this past weekend, respectively, so I had a pretty good idea of the storyline and the social commentary I’d be looking for. I don’t normally like to see the film version before I finish the original one (although my track record, with Twilight and, most recently, Water for Elephants and My Week with Marilyn, doesn’t bode well), but I actually found myself more immersed in The Hunger Games, as opposed to analysing each and every moment, when the film continued after where I’d reached in the book. (The pre-Hunger Games interviews, FYI.)

While the book is allegedly a commentary on the hell high school can be (like a post apocalyptic Buffy), I interpreted it more to be not only about capitalist life (the riches of the Capitol juxtaposed against the poverty and poor quality of life for the rest of Panem), but about advertising culture and the media.

The argument that seems to surround media today is that we should ban this, and censor that. Then we wouldn’t have eating disorders, negative stereotypes of women and minorities, obesity, gambling, domestic violence, blatant consumerism and pretty much anything else you can think of. Common sense would have us stop consuming the things we don’t feel align with our personal ethics. Don’t like the way animals are slaughtered in factory farms for our precious meat? Don’t eat it. Don’t like racism? Don’t be a racist. Don’t like leggings as pants? Don’t wear them. Don’t like children being chosen at random to fight to the death for the pleasure of the elite and the opportunity to make life a little more bearable for the underclass? Don’t watch it. If everyone adopted this attitude and no one watched, there wouldn’t be a product. As author Suzanne Collins notes her inspiration for the series as flicking television stations between war and reality TV, it’s not hard to come to this conclusion.

Despite the fact that no one really seems to be talking about the senseless mass murder of children by children (won’t somebody think of them?!), there is a point to “career tributes” like Cato and Glimmer, who are trained for the Hunger Games since birth.  As Laura Miller wrote in The New Yorker, “[W]hy isn’t it the poorer, hungrier districts that pool their resources to train Career Tributes, instead of the wealthier ones?”

I wasn’t as huge a fan as some others who’ve devoured the series in several sittings (I prefer to wait until the next filmic instalment is on the horizon to delve into the second book, as with Tomorrow, When the War Began, for example), but I did like it and look forward to seeing what the next two chapters bring; both book and film versions.

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Related: My Week with Marilyn Review.

Event: Should Meat Be Off the Menu?

Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden Book/Movie Review.

Elsewhere: [The New Yorker] Fresh Hell.

Image via IMDb.

On the (Rest of the) Net Comes a Day Early—Easter Edition.

 

Happy Easter to all Scarlett Woman readers. See you on the flipside (that’s Tuesday!).

On Megan Fox’s old nose. [Jezebel]

Gala Darling is going without TV for a month. Could you do it?

Kate Spencer responds to an insulting op-ed in the New York Post about women who move to New York City only being interested in an image-based, money-obsessed Sex & the City lifestyle. But it’s the Post, what do we expect? [The Frisky]

Still with SATC, five things Carrie Bradshaw failed to mention about NYC. [Bailey Powell]

Is the blowjob dead? [Jezebel]

Sharing your miscarriage on Facebook: do or don’t? [Jezebel]

The racist reactions to The Hunger Games. [Jezebel]

How to be a woman girl. [Jezebel]

Rachel Hills on asexuality. [The Atlantic]

Queensland’s new Premier, Campbell Newman, vetoes the state’s Literary Awards, in the Year of Reading and in a time when 1 in 5 Indigenous children are illiterate. This is why you don’t vote Liberal. [Courier Mail]

How an article about how hard it is to be a beautiful-looking woman written by an average-looking woman entices readers to hate troll. [Jezebel]

Fat-shaming Jessica Simpson for gaining weight during pregnancy. [Jezebel]

Clementine Ford unpacks the widespread need for other people to tell women what they should and shouldn’t be wearing. [Daily Life]

Image via Ask Men.