Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Not So Sexy Anymore

I'm going to see the Sex and the City movie. It's one of those things. It's not that I'm dying to see it, not that I expect it will be great, it's not that I think it's worth the $10+. I'm going because, I guess, it's one of those "events" things, though I'm really looking forward to seeing a bunch of friends I don't see that often.

I was (am) a big fan of the television show. I wrote a paper focusing on the season finale, and then retooled it a year later for a conference that I ended up submitting something else to. And when the first movie came out, I was super excited, and I went with a big group of girls, and we laughed and gasped and took it all in. It wasn't until later, on rewatch, without the audience and the expectations, that I realized that the film truly was not good.

I've seen the trailer for the sequel. There's not much to it. I've seen the ads, and the critiques with the photoshopped arms, legs, and hips. I kind of dread where the story will go, but I had that feeling when the movie was over--where else can they go? Women's lives, at least in story form, seem to follow the same trajectory of men and kids, and I didn't want to see Carrie pregnant. But what else will they do? I lamented to a friend, and we bitched. I don't want the movies to be part of my memory of the series.

Neither does Hadley Freeman, who posted her own response to the movies (Spoilers):

But the truth is, the show was fantastic: smart, funny, warm and wise, a far cry from the "middle-aged women having embarrassing sex with various unsuitable partners" cliche that the above writer used. It was about four smart women, three of whom had no interest in getting married. Candace Bushnell's original book on which the show was based was good, but the show was great.

But unlike in the films, that's not all there was, and that wasn't all the characters cared about. What elevated the show way above the normal chickflick tat, and way above the films, was that it had genuine emotional truth. It sang with lines that you knew had come from real life ("How can I have this baby? I barely had time to schedule this abortion" being quite possibly my all-time favourite) and plots that went beyond the limiting convention of cliche. Samantha's breast cancer, for example, showed not only how scary and sad cancer (obviously) is, but also how boring, sweaty and plain inconvenient it is, too.
My thesis in my Sex and the City paper was that the show was so successful because it stuck to this emotional truth. The movie, despite trying for it with Miranda's storyline, completely missed the mark. The men were barely involved, and when they were, they were out of character. The movie was just plain bad; there was nothing there, and spent too much time on things no one cared out (Mexico) and drew out what was unnecessary (Big and Carrie's roller coaster wedding).

There's been a lot written how the show increasingly focused on fashion and the "luxe life" in its later years, especially in the movies. Michael Patrick King, as a response to both the recession and the first movie, has purposely made the sequel light and airy, with the escapist trip to Abu Dhabi the centerpiece of this theme. Yes, it made it easier to shoot, and was different. But it was also a big "huh? ...ok" for the audience.

The fashion was fun, sometimes. But I always maintained it wasn't about that for true fans--they connected to the emotional issues the show brought up, the questions, no matter how serious or frivolous. They could connect to the women's tribulations, no matter what their actual lives were like.

Hopefully I will enjoy the movie, and it won't be a total waste. But I wonder: Do all women's entertainments have to be this way? Do they have to be like Eat Pray Love, an escapist journey, a fantasy that most of us won't be able to experience?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Another Reason Why Lady Gaga Is Awesome

I love a lot of things about this picture of Lady Gaga. I love her hair, the waves, and the color. I love the dark lipstick, the open mouth. I love her crossed arms. I love the metallic contraption “top” she’s wearing, the sparks flying from her nipples. But most of all, I love the fact that Lady Gaga has arm hair.

It’s subtle. It’s noticeable in the full picture in the magazine (Time 100 Most Influential People), the faint brown hairs. I love that Lady Gaga, who is a very Italian brunette when she is/was Stefani Germanotta, did not get rid of her arm hair. I love that she didn’t feel forced to wax it off or bleach it or otherwise hide the fact that’s what her arms look like.

To me that’s what’s most remarkable about this picture, not that she has sparks flying out of her nipples or that the contraption looks cold and uncomfortable, not even wondering how in the world that thing was made or how it works. I’m not shocked by that, nor her orgasmic expression. All of these things have been seen before, whether on her or by other pop stars. It’s the fact that we see what her arms normally look like—no artifice—in a picture promoting artifice. Lady Gaga’s mode, throughout all the wacky, weird costumes, is to show off who she is, that people should uniquely be themselves, and she makes statements through her art. Having her arm hair just existing, not photoshopped out, is just another way of saying, this is who I am, and don’t try to change me. Don’t try to make me conform to unrealistic and silly and costly beauty standards. I am who I am, and I happen to have hair on my arms.

Live Like We're Goners? I Don't Think So

Rachel Maddow has it right.

I’ve always hated the idea, personified in Kris Allen’s “Live Like We’re Dying” and Jordan Sparks’ “Tattoo”, that we must always live like every day is our last. These sentiments, these platitudes, are meant to goad us into action, to live bravely, to do risky things like go for that opportunity, to proclaim our love, those moments that we’re scared of that form the climax of the plot in any cheesy, predictable story.

We should absolutely not live every moment as if we’re dying. First, we simply can’t. There are moments in life where we have to do boring things—run errands, go to the bathroom, do homework, clean. These are not earth-shattering moments, and while they might lead us to pursue our dream, they are the necessary drudgework that is part of life. We can’t pretend these moments don’t exist, or consistently infuse them with meaning. We feel sick, we want to sleep in, we spend too much time online or on video games. Not every moment is meant for meaning; it is everything added together that becomes something more. Two, if we tried to live every moment as if it was life or death, we’d be in a constant state of anxiety and heightened emotions, and a person can’t live like that. Necessary things, like sleep and food, would get pushed out, because we don’t have time for petty things if we are dying!In that mindset, everything is short term; there are no considerations for consequences. Yeah, that opportunity might be amazing, but is it worth it after tomorrow? After next year? Is it harmful? Proclaiming your love is always viewed as this thing that, while scary, will always work out…but what if it doesn’t? What if everything goes to pot, and you were better off not doing it? But it doesn't matter, because you have to live every second like it's your last one!

There’s an episode of House where Wilson, after telling a patient that he only a few months to live, realizes that his disease is in remission and he will be fine. The patient is angry and wants to sue Wilson—the expectation that he was dying made his life fun for the short-term, and he was showered with parties and accolades. Now he has nothing to live for. He had lived for the present, and now that it was extended, there was nothing left. If we lived every day like we were dying, we would also feel this way. We told all our loved ones how we felt (nauseatingly), we took our risks, we said FU when it didn’t work out...and eventually we’ll be left with a shell of who we are, since we didn’t listen to anyone and didn’t prepare for the consequences.

So for the love of God, don’t tell me to live my life to the fullest, how I need to constantly run on all cylinders, to make sure that every moment counts. Because not every moment does, and not every moment can.

I’m too busy just trying to get by.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Daria on DVD!


I have a few late series-eps on VHS, taped from a marathon before premiering the movie finale (I also have "Is It Fall Yet?"). But nothing compares to the whole season. I hope there will be extras, especially commentary.

I post this mainly to highlight this post on Bitch, a homage to the series. Also noteworthy is the clip from Roseanne. I too loved Darlene Connor, and this scene makes me tear up.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Thank You

But Lindsay Lohan's personal problems, whatever they may be, are not the true issue here. She's 23-years-old and being ripped to shreds in the press mostly because she goes out at night. That's what the media is really focused on. With all the boozing on college campuses, after-work happy hours and box-wine toting moms, why do we have a problem with this one young woman staying out late (and possibly having a cocktail)?

I'm not saying that Lindsay doesn't have issues. She might. But her biggest issue is her unfair treatment by the tabloids, entertainment shows and TMZs of the world. Consider Shia La Beouf, who is also 23 years old. He started his comedy career when he was 10, and, like Lindsay, was a Disney property, starring in Even Stevens and Holes before he turned 18. Transformers is one of the top-grossing films of the decade. And yet: Shia has been arrested for criminal trespassing (at a Walgreens) and he has a metal plates and screws in his hand thanks to crashing a car after drinking. Even though the accident was not his fault, the officers at the scene smelled booze on Shia's breath, and he has a knuckle he will "never be able to move again."

While these are two different people in two different situations, Shia is never on the cover of a tabloid with the words "rock bottom" printed in giant yellow letters. Like Britney before her, Lindsay has become America's favorite person to complain about, feel sorry for, make fun of and tear down. It seems like everyone has an idea of how a young woman is "supposed" to behave. If she doesn't comply? Anger and vitriol and mockery. When Leonardo DiCaprio was drinking, hanging with models and out every night with his "pussy posse", no one claimed he'd hit rock bottom.

The point is: Lindsay's living her life, working out her issues, but at this point, she can't even try to to something right — make a documentary in India; design for Ungaro — without being eviscerated, judged, ridiculed and trashed. It seems like we expect certain things of our little girls, even when they're not so little anymore. Maybe we're angry that they've grown up, or that they're not the things we hoped for… But our expectations should not be their concern. Lindsay should only have to be and do the things she hopes for.

--"In Defense of Lindsay Lohan"
Yo go, girl. Jezebel is on a roll. Lindsay, I still love ya.