29 May 2010

"I really thought you were different, Finn"

I’ve been anxiously waiting the arrival of this clip on YouTube since Tuesday‘s episode of Glee. The second it aired, I actually verbalized (out loud, alone in my bedroom) ‘ooo gotta get my greedy little hands on that one!’…… Done!

Apologies for the quality - the original version has been stripped from YouTube somewhere inbetween when I started this post and now (darn copyright laws!)

I get legitimate chills watching this.

Firstly, because I think...Hang on,

...if you don’t watch Glee, you probably should. For someone like me, it’s literally mind-blowing - there’s pop culture references left, right and centre; they cover current music (whatever, I hate Lady Gaga); they cover older music (most recently Sinatra‘s ‘Lady is a Tramp‘)…and for the younger generation of viewers, this is probably their first listen to some everlasting classics; annnnnd lastly, I’m kind of in love with Puck.

Sigh....back on track...here’s some context to the above clip:

Kurt’s dad, Burt (Ha!) and Finn's mom are dating. And moving in together. Burt loves Finn- he’s the football-playing, heterosexual son Kurt could never be. Enter Finn's enraged schpeel about the drapery and Burt stands up for Kurt (seriously, the rhyming!) in a fricking heartbeat. The underlying intensity of this scene is grounded in the painstaking heartache that is Kurt and Burt's relationship. They've both made attempts at embracing the other's interests but as we’ve seen all season, their relationship remains strained. Kurt even tried his hand at being straight a few episodes ago- and it didn’t even feel like it was so much for Burt's approval but rather so they could have some things to talk about (namely girls, lumberjack ensembles and John Mellencamp). We saw the extent Kurt was willing to go to be a part of his dad’s life and this week, we finally saw Burt stand up for his son when it mattered most.

If we take this tiny clip, this small portion of an (already) iconic television show and enlarge it tenfold, we can see that it addresses a seriously important issue. Language. Better yet - the pejorative use of it, also known as derogatory slang.

Have you ever heard anyone say the following?

That’s so gay.
Stop being a fag.
You’re a retard.

Have you ever said some variation of the above? It’s okay, I have too. But in 2003 (yes I remember the year, it was during Frosh week of my undergrad) I started making an extremely conscious effort to take these words out of my vocabulary. For good. It wasn’t like I was going around dropping bombs all the time, but I most certainly used them sporadically. But now...pfft, you can bet your bottom dollar I’d rather eat a light bulb than call someone by a name so inappropriate. So disgusting. Sure, it took a bit of effort (a few lip-biting incidents) but proved to be more than worth it in the end. I took responsibility for something that I hadn't created or produced but could've easily been a part of. I chose not to participate.

Burt Hummel dosed out some serious information-questioning to Finn- scratch that, to Finn and (hopefully) Glee audiences everywhere. And it made me love its creator (Ryan Murphy) that much more. Not only did he push the envelope so far as to say ‘fag’ on primetime television, but in so doing he created a situation where the characters could address a hugely important social issue.

Gay, Retard, Fag...all in their pejorative form suggest that something (or someone) is abnormal. (What’s normal, you say? Whole other can of worms!) Every time you or someone you know uses these words- joke or not, no matter what the context- you/they are only affirming current laws and social norms which suggest homosexual people, disabled people (and so on) should be treated as 'not normal'. In short, you only confirm the worst traits of our society when you choose to use words like this.

Glee gets it. And has showed us where these pejorative meanings stem from and how they can so easily be dismissed as meaningless everyday slang. So come on people, let’s be that generation Burt Hummel talks about... 'that new generation of dude' who sees things differently- 'who just came in to the world knowing'.

And that’s what you missed on...Glee

Girl, Deconstructed

25 May 2010

(Insert generic male name), will you accept this rose?

The girl who once chose her career over love now officially bats for the opposing team, the fairytale. Enter Ali - the new bachelorette.

First things first, what is up with this photo? I think it's the childish cutesiness of the hand-on-chin combination. And she's wearing a pair of Converse...with a wedding dress. Ohhh, I get it.....So what you're saying is that you're serious about marriage but you're also a fun-loving gal who likes to mix things up. Awesome.

I have to admit - I sort of ashamedly enjoy this show. But I justify it by the fact that, like most bits of pop culture, I enjoy it through the always-present informed lens. Alright, sometimes I just enjoy it for all its juicy drama (reality television has some sort of hold over my life.) I don’t however, watch this programme and others like it, for the fairytale it so falsely promotes.

I only ever caught a few episodes of last season's Bachelor (in which Ali left for reasons explained below) but I definitely do like her...(I wrote this section before the episode aired last night. I think I might actually hate her...it looks like she might cry... ALOT.) One thing's for certain, I'm glad she forewent a future with the prepetually lame, nerdy (and not in the cool way) Jake. Such a dink…

See? Dink.

But alas, he is the reason Ali caught my attention. In short, when she was faced with the tough choice whether to stay on the show or keep her job, Ali inevitably took the realistic, non-fairytale route. She apparently had her dream job and at the end of the day, couldn't gaurantee that Jake would choose her. So, for anyone keeping score that's Career, 1; Love, 0. And even though we witnessed her immediate regret when whinging about having made the wrong choice, I respected her decision. Why? Because at the very least, it was a nod to this thing I like to call real life.

Then she got offered The Bachelorette. Can we blame ABC? The poor girl had to go back to work! She lost her chance at love...what a sad and tragic event. Of course they were going to offer her the new season! I mean, what better way to make up for it than asking her to leave her job permanently! And as we now know, she did. So while that would make it a tie game, Career, 1; Love, 1, I'm effectively overriding career's point on account of Ali's idiocy. Apparently love. conquers. all.

So what do I think is in store?

Well, considering the eight minute ‘This Season on The Bachelorette...’ segment, it looks like my Monday nights are about to get real interesting! Hands-down best bit? A group of the guys suspect Kasey for being legitimately obsessed with Ali. Like, stalker-obsessed! Ambulance sirens are heard, a distraught Ali is shown, Kasey shows up the next day with bandages around his wrist...ohh Boy!

Well readers, I did a little digging. Someone who suggests that their ideal date is (and I quote) "horseback riding on the ocean, followed by lunch on a sailboat, then coming home to a prepared dinner with candlelight" needs to seriously get a grip.

Plus, there's embroidery on his shirt.

In the spirit of yachting and candles, that's the other thing I can't handle - the forced romance. And they’re only making it worse this season by shipping Ali and the boys around the world...well who wouldn’t wanna fall in love in an exotic location with someone they've only known for three weeks?!? Ali does! (I kinda do too actually.) And as someone who actually has, let me just say the location can blind you to your partner's faults. End of.

My stomach literally turns at the thought of fairytale type stuff - not the being in love part, just the actual acts of romance...I don't know about you, but I do not want to sip champagne, wrapped in a blanket at the top of the Eiffel Tower. That, to me, is not romantic. It's not original, it's not personal, it's crap. Plus, I hated Paris.

Nonetheless, if you do watch the Bachelorette (heck, even if you don’t!) stay tuned for more indulgences, because let's be frank here, this show offers a whole realm of worthy topics...representations of heteromasculinity, the non-existence of racial diversity (thank GOD she gave the ‘first impression rose’ to Roberto, the only non-white bachelor out of the entire 25)....perhaps even a look into the promotion of traditionalism, for instance, the importance in maintaining the nuclear family through reality romance television.

So while I may have only written this to ensure myself of having a valid reason to watch The Bachelorette, I guess I’ll just accept the fact that like Ali, I’m going to be there until the final rose is given. Whether I like it or not.

Girl, Deconstructed

17 May 2010

Advocate this....

"She’s basically a short man with boobs. A lot of what I love about her is her butchness. I’m not saying I fell in love with her in a sexually neutral way. I love her sexuality—it’s a big part of what I love about her—but I feel like it was her. It wasn’t something in me that was waiting to come out. It was like, this person is undeniable. How can I let this person walk by? Christine would probably kill me for saying this, but my daughter said one time that if you really had to break this down, [it looks like] she would be butch and I would be femme."

-Cynthia Nixon on her partner Christine, The Advocate, June 2010

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

First up - I love Nixon for the way she rejects the idea that you have to be either gay or straight, one or the other, as if it’s all that black and white! Instead, Nixon offers us a tale that many before her have told. It may seem ridiculously obvious and simple to say that love has absolutely nothing to do with gender, but for someone like her who has a heterosexual past (married with 2 kids), she defends her current status in a same-sex relationship by aknowledging her belief that love is about being drawn to someone who is undeniable, whose force is so magnetic. Gender? Pfft, doesn't matter. (I know, still sounds a bit obvious…hold on).

It's absolutely true to say that gender’s only purpose is to build a wall, a boundary if you will, by which the majority of society determines who their life mate should be. Most of us stay within this boundary and simply reject the notion that Nixon believes - “If anybody, prior to my meeting and falling in love with Christine, had asked me about what I think about sexuality, I would have said I think we’re all bisexual. But I had that point of view without ever having felt attracted to a woman. I had never met a woman I was attracted to [before Christine].”

It is for this, her recognition of bisexuality as something more seemingly natural than most of us may think, that I admire Nixon’s effort in maintaining that she had no ’knock-you-down sense of shock’, no coming-out moment. Just a realization that she had fallen in love with an amazing soul....who happened to be a woman.

If only I wasn't so motivated to find the rain cloud in everything :)

My reason for eye-rolling begins here...

Calling one’s partner ‘a short man with boobs’ doesn't really feel like the best compliment one could pay, despite the fact that I'm certain she said this lovingly. According to Nixon, this butchiness is a lot of what she loves about Christine, who, the interviewer also points out, dresses in men’s clothing and would most certainly be at odds on a lunch date with Carrie, Charlotte and Samantha (lame joke).

FINE, so Christine isn't what our current culture would call 'traditionally feminine'...don't even get me started on that, entire other entry on it's own.

But here's the thing about masculinity...

We know it's considered of higher value than it's counterpart, femininity - our patriarchal culture confirms this, as does the fact that our language operates through creating hierarchical binaries (in normal words: opposites, whereby one half of the opposing concepts is given higher value). So, we know that in a hetero relationship, men come to benefit from the privileged meaning attached to the concept of masculinity because it's our patriarchal culture that creates these meanings in the first place. Still with me??? Refer to 'A Brief Introdution to Poststructuralism' and you'll be sorted ;)

So, by virtue of the fact that there are also two people in a same-sex relationship, one half will (theoretically) be held at a higher value simply because that‘s how our culture operates - things only have meaning when there‘s something opposing them. But because of the fact that we are trained to think heterosexuality is the norm, one partner in a same-sex relationship will (theoretically) be masculine and the other feminine and in so doing, we end up creating concepts like butch/femme whereby same sex relationships have the potential and ability to reflect (by appearance) some version of a heterosexual couple.

The obsession with ‘Who’s butch? Who’s femme?’ (in any same sex relationship - lesbian or gay) gets me in a bit of a twist. Why do we need to deem one half of a same sex couple more feminine or masculine than the other? As I‘ve just outlined through my use of language and meaning systems (whaaaat?...seriously, Poststructuralism is the coolest stuff if you can get in to it!), the answer is actually pretty simple. Because that’s how deeply embedded ‘heterosexuality as the norm’ lies....within our social processes, institutions, and systems of meaning. In short, our entire society and culture.

This deeply ingrained norm is what could make Nixon's relationship (and others like her and Christine's), easier for some people in our culture to accept - by appearance, they are essentially some version, some degree, of a heterosexual couple. But it's also a piss-off because it's only furthering the point that we look at lesbian and gay couples and try and pick out the butch, the femme. And that's not right. Now I'm not saying the butch/femme dichotomy is only destructive or limiting (as I know these concepts can have varied and positive meanings in LGBT communities), but I simply wanted to point out how our language, our male-defined meanings and institutions, processes and cultures, can create concepts that only help to further the assumption and belief that heterosexuality is the norm. Woman and Man...end of.

Girl, Deconstructed

11 May 2010

'If you're gonna by my man, understand I can't be tamed'....cool lyrics Miley, cool lyrics

On November 23, 2010 Miley Cyrus will turn 18. She'll be a legal adult....and shit might hit the fan.

In the last year or so, it’s been hard not to notice Miley’s transformation- both physically and musically. With the announcement that Hannah Montana would soon be coming to an end, Miley immediately began focusing on an entirely different, non-Disney version of herself (which, at the end of the day, I think we can all appreciate). Her hair went four hundred shades of dark, she hired a new stylist (have to say, some of her red carpet looks are unbelievably put together) and she started releasing music that probably had Mom’s across the globe feeling a touch uneasy regarding the whereabouts of one Miss Hannah Montana.

Miley’s latest uproar? Her song and accompanying video ’Can’t Be Tamed’. First let me just say what an original concept this is...........

....sense the sarcasm. It's not even worth trying to pick apart this song - we’ve heard it in 452 different ways by 452 different pop tarts. However, for your viewing pleasure...

I don't blame you if you couldn't make it through the entire 3 min 49 secs....it's painful. The jist: a ‘creature’ formerly believed to be extinct is unveiled at the circus and wouldn’t you know it, it's none other than the offspring of Billy Ray Cyrus! But this isn't just any offspring - this one’s sitting in a bird's nest, clad in leather and bondage-like arm pieces. She sports Snooki-esque hair, 3lbs of black eyeliner and 5-foot spanning black wings. Yup...wings.

The best part, you ask??

"Every guy everywhere just gives me mad attention
Like I'm under inspection, I always get the 10's
Cause I'm built like that"

As they say in the old country, bloody. ruddy. brilliant.

Sigh.....I just can’t buy into a sexed up version of Hannah Montana and I'm left wondering if the rest of the public can either. She obviously (and respectfully so) has the pipes to transition from teen star to adult singer..I'm not doubting that! But she will also always be Hannah Montana and it's for this reason that I've come to believe the teens who fall within the post-Disney age demographic may not be able to take her seriously. They were too old (and cool) for Hannah Montana and now too smart (and cool) to accept Miley for anything else.

I certainly don’t think it’s her intention to alienate her tween fans through this newfound sexiness (she's simply growing up and on her own journey of self discovery). But if I was the mother of a 13 year old, no, I probably wouldn’t be enthused that Miley's 'on stage' persona appears to be straying from what she once proudly emulated - wholesomeness? innocence? You choose. Plus - didn't she pole dance during a performance at the Teen Choice Awards whilst singing about partying in the USA. Partying? Aren't you, like, 12?

Now...here's where I'm going with this...Have we not already seen this exact same attempt at transitioning from teen star to adult singer and the subsequent fall out that came along with it? Does the name Britney Spears ring any bells?

It’s TEXTBOOK people. Let's consider the basics:

They're both from the South.
They're proud Christian girls who have publicly talked about their beliefs.
Both have announced plans to save sex for marriage (and we all know how that went for Britney.)
Each were figuratively 'owned' by Disney (for different lengths of time) while underage.

And in Brit Brit’s case…
Turns 18 and slowly but surely, falls completely off her rocker.

Miley’s career is mirroring that of Britney's early days to an uncanny degree right now! And while I will maintain that Britney lost her adored public image when JT released 'Cry Me a River' and the world found out she was a cheating be-atch, it's also probably safe to say that the ultra sexy image she embraced with the release of 'I'm a Slave' confirmed that Britney wanted us to change our view of who she was as a performer. So it's merely a coincidence that her life unravelled shortly thereafter????

I’d love to say that it seems Miley has a way better head on her shoulders but when Britney was 18, the world seemed like her oyster too. Hello?! She was dating Justin Timberlake and they wore matching denim ensembles. Life can't really get much better. No denim ensembles to report just yet but Mily is in her first serious (and public) relationship. You just wait...disaster will strike!

In all honesty, I have nothing against Miley. I don't actually want her to fall apart the way Britney did. And I do understand and appreciate how hard it must be to go from tween to teen to young adult in front of billions of people, but I'm just crossing my fingers and toes that Miley doesn’t go from THIS


The most important thing we can do to help? The un-tame-able 17yr old sings it best herself: ‘if you try and hold me back I might explode’ …Well little lady, best of fucking luck.

Girl, Deconstructed