26 April 2010

Donor Dad? Stone Cold Fox.

The Kids Are All Right film trailer

There’s four very positive points to make about The Kids Are All Right trailer:

1) Vampire Weekend. ’Cousins’ is featured in the opening seconds. Heck yes…indications of a promising soundtrack.

2) Mini Gwyneth Paltrow (Mia Wasikowska) as the begrudgingly, ballsy daughter - proof that Tim Burton has the power to turn nobody’s in to somebody’s (she played Alice, and she played her well).

3) a jewellery-wearing, bike-riding, slightly-greying, scruffy-bearded Mark Ruffalo. I swoon.

And of course, most importantly 4) A married lesbian couple, played by two of the biggest female actors in Hollywood, is making its debut on the big screen.

The Kids Are All Right looks smart. It looks clever and fresh. And while its not out until July (I’ve disappointingly heard it may be limited release), it does appears there are some critics over at Rotten Tomatoes who have gotten their greedy hands on a copy. One critic describes the film as ’cleverly peppered with laughter’. What an amazing combination of two words. Cleverly peppered…

My feeling about trailers is that you have to view them with a teeny grain of salt. That said, please take my forthcoming critique as neither conclusive or in any way correct. Trailers themselves can provide little inclination as to how I’ll actually end up feeling about the film (Shutter Island being a perfect example of this - horribly misleading trailer, amazing film) but I’m hoping this one won’t disappoint, despite a few red flags...

If you please:

It has the potential to be full of clichés, but then again I suppose it’s rare for any movie to be completely void of them. Maybe this red flag is waving at the thought that it could be full of lesbian clichés? Hopefully the following will expand...

The physical juxtaposition of the Mom’s and the way its utilized throughout the trailer is a bit of an overused representation of lesbians in mainstream pop culture. Julianne Moore is instantly pitted as the more feminine partner. Why? Well, for starters, her hair is longer. Yes that’s right. That’s how annoyingly obvious mainstream culture’s representation of lesbians can be. Come on, admit it. At least 7/10 of you immediately pinned Annette Bening as the more masculine partner, completely based on her physical appearance. And it's not your fault for doing so. It's just confirmation of an age-old, completely outdated cliché.


As we discover at the 1m37sec mark, Moore’s character is also the one most likely to be/have been/become heterosexual. The fact that she is both desired by and (at least momentarily) desires Ruffalo only helps to confirm that she is, in fact, more feminine as a direct result of being just that- desired by a heterosexual man. But more importantly - why the shit is she kissing Donor Dad?? This. Is. Ludicrous. Yet I’m simultaneously so intrigued..was Moore’s character straight at one point in time? Did she hop on Stone Cold Fox because he’s the sperm to her egg? Or was she simply curious about what it would be like to kiss a man? I have to wait until July 7for answers???

'A film that plays fast and loose with sexuality’ claims another critic over at Rotten Tomatoes. My response to this- things better get real juicy in the 1h44min of screen time because quite frankly, I'm not remotely getting that vibe from the trailer. If we’re going to receive the message that all women who are desireable and therefore desired by men are apparently (and perhaps inherently?) heterosexual, then it is most certainly not playing fast and loose with sexuality- it's only doing the opposite, preserving traditional heterosexuality. Cliche.

And lastly, I sincerely hope the underlying message throughout the entire film does not have to do with the fact that a family with both male and female parenting figures is the best way to raise a well-rounded child. That would be the biggest cliche of them all.

You can bet your bottom dollar there will be a full review of The Kids Are All Right come July...until then I'll be spending the better part of my time attempting to come up with a phrase as equally charming as ‘cleverly peppered with laughter’.

Finally, for your swooning pleasure:

Girl, Deconstructed

25 April 2010

Because I'm wearing white pants....

Hopefully by now you’ve heard of the U by Kotex campaign. If not, here's a marvelous refresher...

This requires absolutely no explanation. Just a healthy outpouring of appreciation and love. And a massive shoutout to the Kotex employee whose idea it was to include the clip of a screaming, white cat.

I discovered this one a few days ago- same campaign (which is actually pretty cool - check www.ubykotex.com for a quick peek). I'm leaning towards the thought that this one is just a web commercial as I have yet to see it on my t.v and somehow doubt that it will make it there.

The sarcasm is laid on quite a bit thicker than the first one, no?

Again though, no explanation necessary. Just an oversized outpouring of admiration for a company who’s making a keen effort to change the way women think about their bodies. Period.

Brutal pun but I couldn't resist :)

‘Don’t all these angles make me seem dynamic?’

Girl, Deconstructed

Practice Safe Breath

‘How Do you Prepare Yourself When You Know You’re Going To Get Close With Someone Else?’

If we read this ad at its most literal level then sure, there’s nothing wrong. The people in the ad are kissing; as a precaution, they may want some gum. But in our overly (and overtly) sexualized culture, we know the real topic here is sex.

I can’t even admire Dentyne for the scenarios with which the need for ‘gum‘ presents itself- it’s all a bit obvious, right? We get it - gum equals condom, kissing equals sex. Wow, that must’ve taken the advertising team hours to come up with. You mean they’re not talking about gum? OR kissing? Shocking.

Call me crazy but it’s my assumption that most people above the age of 19 have probably experienced one of the three scenarios presented (to Dentyne’s disappointment we find ourselves in need of an actual condom, not a piece of icy gum.) The irony is that the age demographic featured in the commercial (the same demographic the ad is targeted towards) are among the highest rate of adults who have unprotected sex (adults under 25 contract and spread 9.1 million STI‘s each year in the U.S).

My concern then, is this: nothing’s actual being done to promote safe sex here. Forget promoting it- nothing’s even being done to say ‘Hey, you might need more than just gum!’ Yes, I'm acutely aware that it’s not Dentyne’s job to educate today's youth about practicing safe sex, but that’s what’s so annoying! This topic stems so far past gum that, for me, it stands outside the realm of metaphors Dentyne should be using in their ads. In the end, it only confirms and reinforces the fact that people in their 20’s have way too much unprotected sex!!

We live in a culture that’s too sexy for its own good. And in an effort to sell gum, Dentyne not only sexualizes it (which is a whole other can of worms in itself!) but does so by confirming an issue of serious concern. An issue that should not be reinforced by a chewing gum company in a lame effort to sell its latest product.

If anything, I'm crossing my fingers that condom sales increase as a direct result of this wonderfully constructed ad.

Girl, Deconstructed

19 April 2010


If there was ever a student who could take an essay question and turn it into an excuse to watch Heathers, Clueless and Mean Girls all for the sake of one academic paper, it’s me. Oh, I’ve definitely ruined many of my favourite shows, films and books in the process of all this deconstruction (not to mention the memories that go with them) but in the end, I've spent the better part of six years completing two degrees on two different continents, all with a common purpose - to question information. Always.

And that’s what Girl, Deconstructed is all about - a medley of my academic background and my (sometimes) pathetic but undying love of pop culture. In other words, examining pop culture through an informed and gendered lens. Par example,

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Did you know that Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland is a commentary on female puberty in the Victorian Era? And that Tim Burton's version still upholds many of those reclusive themes, despite Alice's feminist(ish) happy ending?

Are you one of the few who actually recognize that Bella and Edward’s relationship blurs the lines between love and intimate partner violence? (This would be a good opportunity to say that I side with Team Jacob.)

And aren't you just completely appreciative yet slightly dumbfounded that it took Kotex THIS long to come up with a commercial so hilariously witty?

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So please… sit back and enjoy while I take it upon myself to simultaneously destroy and enlighten your experiences of pop culture.

Girl, Deconstructed