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.

 

Spice World as metatext madness! [Thought Catalog]

Are we living in the post-ideas age? [New York Times]

“The Opposite of ‘Man’ is ‘Boy’, Not ‘Woman’” by Hugo Schwyzer:

“… Men who long for a vanished world of all-male preserves are making a fundamental mistake about masculinity. They think that the opposite of ‘man’ is ‘woman’ and that in order to prove oneself the former they must do (perform) things that no woman can. But it makes good sense to suggest that the better antonym of ‘man’ is ‘boy.’ To ‘perform masculinity’ isn’t about doing what women don’t. It’s about doing what boys lack the will or the maturity to do.

“If we really are in a ‘man crisis’ in America, I suspect it’s rooted as much as anything else in this fundamentally mistaken belief that manhood needs to be about rejecting anything that smacks of the feminine.” [The Good Men Project, via Jezebel]

How they got Osama bin Laden. [The New Yorker]

“Talking to an Abortion Clinic Protester.” [Jezebel]

The “proper etiquette” for drunk Jersey Shore sluts. [Jezebel]

Cutting off your animal cruelty to spite your feminism. Feminaust’s Ms Elouise on PETA’s latest anti-animal cruelty porn site:

“Is using Pamela Anderson’s body as a sex object and comparing it with a piece of meat an acceptable way of drawing attention to the plight of animals in the meat industry?

“PETA’s use of women’s bodies as a means to furthering their animal rights activism undermines their claims to ‘we all have the same parts’ because they’re saying the exact opposite, they’re saying:

“‘LOOK BOOBIES! Now that we have your attention, meat is bad.’”

While this is a great article, I don’t agree with its sentiments 100%. Yes, some of PETA’s campaigns have been unnecessarily focused on the female form, illustrating no real point, but I do think the “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” and the Pamela Anderson campaigns use it in a positive way. Both for women and animals. What do you think?

“Do You Prefer ‘Fashion Victim’ or ‘Ensembly Challenged’?” Squee! All of Cher Horowitz’s outfits in less than 60 seconds! [Worn Fashion Journal]

Questions for “perfect-looking women”, if there is such a thing. [Thought Catalog]

A letter to Gloria Steinem. [Ms. Magazine]

Rachel Rabbit White on “femme-guilt, beauty-privilege and the phenomenon of girls slut-shaming other girls.”

Everything Sarah Hepola learned about New York City. [The Morning News]

The victim-blaming of Lara Logan for deigning to be hot, bare cleavage and get raped. [Broad Street Review]

“Feminism, Colonialism and Islamophobia” at Qantara.

Image via Fan Pop.

Minus Two & a Half Men.

 

Girl with a Satchel featured an excerpt from a Washington Post column about body snarking at the Oscars:

“I would like to note that more space was devoted to photographs of ladies wearing dresses… than for the last two weeks’ coverage of the events in Libya.”

This is also true of the news coverage in Vietnam, where a colleague of mine (whom I mentioned as the friendly workplace Big Issue provider earlier this week) is spending five weeks. In a recent email, he said that the hot topic on the news there is Charlie Sheen, not Libya, Egypt or Japan, which bore the brunt of a 7.3 magnitude earthquake yesterday afternoon.

A story on MamaMia written by publicist Steven Murphy echoes this:

“His weakness for drugs and alcohol is… well documented and he has been fodder for the tabloid press for years.

“But this latest incident is front-page news like no other. But why? Why is this incident haunting our news services day and night?”

The article somewhat-annoyingly glossed over the fact that his drug and alcohol problems are put at the forefront of his negative publicity, when his hatred of women and obvious mental illness are shoved to the back.

Jezebel hasn’t forgotten, however, with a no-bullshit article entitled “Charlie Sheen’s History of Violence Toward Women” published last week. The article also dealt with John Galliano’s disgraceful display of anti-Semitism, and what the news stories don’t tell you:

“Galliano allegedly grabbed gallery curator Geraldine Bloch by the hair and said, ‘Shut your mouth, dirty bitch, I can’t stand your dirty whore voice.’”

I, myself, didn’t even know that happened until I read the article, and I usually take a vested interest in these sorts of things.

On the plus side, Galliano has been fired as head designer of Christian Dior and—finally!—Sheen’s been fired as head douchebag on Two & a Half Men, to be replaced, allegedly, by reformed bad boy and fellow brat pack member, Rob Lowe.

While I couldn’t be happier about the latter (let’s shout it from the rooftops!), Galliano’s reign at Dior produced some of the finest garments the fashion world has seen, and it’s unfortunate it had to come to this.

But I applaud the fashion house for ousting the anti-Semite, and stars like Natalie Portman, who have publicly spoken out against him.

Both men’s firings show that there is a zero tolerance policy against these kinds of abhorrent behaviours, and hopefully other companies, in the entertainment industry and otherwise, will follow suit.

Although Michael Specter of The New Yorker doesn’t think so, writing that:

“the fashion world has a remarkable ability to shrug off the odd deeply flawed human being, as long as he or she can cut a dress like Galliano can or wear one like Kate Moss, who, despite behaviour that sets a disastrous example for millions of girls, including issues with drugs, is forgiven because, well, she is really very pretty.”

I haven’t always been innocent in providing double standards to those I like, think are talented, and should be forgiven for their indiscretions.

Just yesterday, some co-workers and I were talking about Catherine Deveny’s tweets at last year’s Logies. Personally, I didn’t find them to be offensive, and sorely miss her column on the back page of The Saturday Age’s Life & Style (formerly the A2). But, looking back on it, The Age did the right thing by sacking her. At the time, both Deveny and I used the excuse that she’s a comedienne; that’s her job. I guess it takes the disgraces of people you don’t like to understand the repercussions of (the disgraces of) those you do.

Once such repugnant crime committed by professional wrestler Chris Benoit in 2007, when he murdered his wife and son and killed himself, gave me lots to think (and write) about. On the one hand, I felt his legacy as one of the best professional wrestlers ever to grace the squared circle shouldn’t be forgotten, however, Benoit took three lives and sullied the reputation of professional wrestling (okay, there wasn’t much of a reputation left to sully!) and sparked a debate on steroids and drug testing that raged for years; the smoke of which still lingers today.

I’ve written several articles on that story and, with a new frame of mind to cast a different light on the story, I think I may just revisit said articles. (The anniversary of the double-murder suicide is June 24, so watch this space around that time.)

Benoit was obviously seriously mentally ill; the (not-so-) funny thing is, his friends, family and co-workers never picked up on it.

Charlie Sheen, however, has a long history of violence and drug use, and there’s no telling what he’s capable of.

Related: The Big Issue Review, 1-14 March 2011.

The Anatomy of a Douchebag.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Charlie Sheen’s Witness.

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

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Advice to Charlie Sheen from Australia’s Top Publicist.

[Jezebel] Charlie Sheen’s History of Violence Toward Women.

[The New Yorker] John Galliano’s Implosion.

[Girl with a Satchel] Body Snarking is So No Funny But Jacki Weaver is Fab.

Images via NY Daily News, The Gloss, Pop Culture Madness.

Let Them Eat Cupcakes.

 

Not to be confused with “Let Them Eat Cake… And Wear Headbands”, which I wrote earlier this week, this excerpt comes from Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York’s “King Kong & Cupcakes” by Jeremiah Moss:

“Cupcakes are just a symbol for the shiny Bloomberg-ized, Carrie Bradshaw-defined boutique city New York is turning into. I grey up during the 1970s, when the old New York‘King Kong’s New York’ if you likewas still very much in evidence, and would be well into the ’90s. Like you, I’ve watched, often in horror, and particularly over the last decade, as the city has been transformed into something nearly unrecognisable and sadly lacking in character.

“I certainly have nothing against the cupcakes themselves. Shortly after I handed this cartoon in, I tried a Magnolia cupcake for the first time. It was good. I suppose I could have written ‘Twas Marc Jacobs killed the beast’, but cupcakes was funnier, and it won’t get me sued.

“… But to answer your question about how New York being overrun with cupcake shops, and the (designer) baggage that goes along with them, can kill a 25-foot-tall ape, it is in much the same way that ‘beauty’ did him inby breaking his heart.

“Is that too corny? OK, then he slipped on a goddamn cupcake.”

Related: Let Them Eat Cake… And Wear Headbands.

Elsewhere: [Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York] King Kong & Cupcakes.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

“Benevolent” teen sexism versus “hostile” teen sexism at Psychology Today via Jezebel.

Also from Jezebel, “Facebook Tells You When You Will Break Up” via a handy little graph. I wonder how the graph would change to reflect Australian dating norms andmost interestinglyseasons.

The always hilarious Mia Freedman muses on “First World Problems”.

Gawker’s take on Gossip Girl’s “Juliet Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”, or more importantly, Chuck and Blair’s sex life:

“So, Blair and Chuck are totally mashing genitals against each other for pleasure, and everyone is throwing up all over the place because of it. Because it’s so gross. ‘Hey Blair, let me put my penis inside you behind those bushes.’ THROWUP. ‘Hey Chuck, why don’t you stimulate my vagina with your mouth some more.’ RETCH. ‘Oh my gosh, let’s pant and wheeze and sweat here in this limo because we just rubbed our genitalia together to the point of climax.’… IT’S GROSS, is what I’m saying… But they’re doing it anyway and that was a plot point. Absolutely nothing changed or developed in their fucking…”

Since when did Gossip Girl need a plot point, anyway? It’s a guilty pleasure and that’s the beauty of it.

This 2009 New Yorker article is suspiciously similar to a Law & Order: SVU episode from season 11. But it is a brilliantly haunting read about fire investigation, wrongful incarceration, execution and justice.

Defamer addresses Vanity Fair’s penchant for posthumous covers.

Ideologically Impure responds to Stephen Fry’s assertion that women don’t like/want/have sex as much as gay men:

“Because, Mr. Fry, do you know what happens to women who openly state they enjoy sex, who act in an overtly sexual manner, who admit to casual sex?

If they get raped, their rapist walks free.

“Because a woman saying she enjoys sex is obviously always up for it. And a woman who’s had casual sex in the past must not be fussy about who she fucks. And a woman who flirts is just ‘sending the wrong signals’ and completely gives up her right to say ‘no’.”

The allure of the Kindle, by Maggie Alderson.

The original “In Defence of Slut-O-Ween” and, in the same vein, The Stranger wishes us a (belated) “Happy Heteroween”.

Annabelle DeSisto, the girl who shut down the Situation on Jersey Shore, tells her side of the story on Best Week Ever:

“… He kept asking me if I wanted to change clothes, like to get into something more comfortable like pyjamas. And I was like ‘No’, and he was like ‘But you seem really uncomfortable in that dress, let’s just get you into pyjamas.’ I’m like, ‘Does everything you own have a rhinestone bulldog or dragon or Ed Hardy logo on it?’ And he’s like, ’Yeah, of course!’ And I was like, ‘Then I’m not changing clothes.’”

Sounds like a quintessential douchebag to me!

In defence of Kanye West:

“Part of Kanye’s curse is that after everyone chills out a little, we all realise he was just saying what everyone was thinking, and we were unfair to leap all over him…”

“What is Vampire Sex?” Effing hot, that’s what!

Shameless Wildfox plug: “13 ‘Mature’ Things to Do While Wearing Wildfox This Halloween”. I did just one of these things this Halloween. Can you guess which?

If you missed Zoe Foster’s “All Women Really Want is a Cup Of Fu*king Tea” relationship advice in Cosmo a few months ago, here it is again on her blog, via MamaMia.

Mick Foley pens his thoughts on Linda McMahon:

“… The concerns expressed in regard to WWE are valid onessubstance abuse problems, content issues, the troubling trend of pro-wrestlers dying way too young. But if Linda McMahon is going to be held personally accountable for every negative aspect of her family business, shouldn’t she be given personal credit for every positive aspect as well? Like the 5,000 wishes to children facing life threatening conditions WWE has granted over the last twenty five years, through ‘Make-a-Wish’ and other wish granting organisations? Or the ‘Tribute to the Troops’ tour that WWE has embarked on every year since 2003; spreading holiday cheer to service-members far from home, in remote bases in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.”

When things are looking glum, take a look at this mantra from Gala Darling. Things aren’t that bad.

Great Expectations

In otherand final, for this week at leastworkaholics news, from The New Yorker’s Book Bench, “there’s no point in worrying about all those books you haven’t gotten to yet, because very often our preconceived idea of what a book will be is just as valid and enlightening as the book itself might be.”

So do bookworms rejoice in the fact that there’s no need to get through our stacks of unread books (personally, I have The Babysitters Club, American Psycho, a second reading of Mia Freedman’s memoir, Mama Mia, and Hollywood Ending by Kathy Charlesto get througha well balanced literary meal, if a little too heavy on the fluff, don’t you think?); that the very idea of what they’re like will sustain our literary appetites?

I understand what author Kristy Logan’s original hypothesis is attesting to, that sometimes “an unread book is an intoxicating, romantic thing, and the act of reading is, in one sense, destructive” to what could have been, however I don’t agree with it.

Fiercely loyal, I will not put a book down until the very last page, no matter how much of a struggle it was to read. Dr. Zhivago, I’m looking at you. I had great expectations for that book, however I was brutally disappointed. Bret Easton Ellis’ Glamorama is another one that comes to mind. I do feel like by reading these books, my fantastical idea of them before I turned their pages has been knocked out of me.

On the other hand, there’s nothing like being utterly surprised by how good a book is, and how profoundly it affects you. Frequent readers of this blog will know that Another City, Not My Own is that for me. The Lovely Bones is one I was pleasantly surprised about, (at the risk of sounding like a bogan) only reading it because I wanted to see the film. While I think the ending was utter bullshit, the integrity of the rest of the story outweighs the disappointing ending for me.

Logan assures us that she doesn’t encourage leaving “all books unread”, questioning whether she should call them “‘pre-read’ books instead”.

The excitement of a “pre-read book”? Now that I can understand.

Related: Things Bogans Like.

Elsewhere: [The New Yorker] Not Enough Time.

[The Millions] Confined by Pages: The Joy of Unread Books.