Tuesday, August 31, 2010

This Is Bad, Bad News

So, as you might already know, Bristol Palin has joined this season's cast of "Dancing With the Stars." Yup. She told UsMagazine.com, "I just wanted to do it because it's so fun." She told Radaronline.com, "I want to set a good example for all of the amazing moms out there." Mmm-hmm. That's great. I hope she foxtrots her abstinent self all the way to fun, amazing, good example-ness. Here's the real issue: someone has now used the Presidency, however indirectly, to land a spot on a reality show. That, my friends, is a problem. For all of us. Thanks, Bristol.

There Are (Almost) No Words

"This midwestern girl knows how powerful men in Beverly Hills work, so she makes sure that she is always looking her best because she knows that something younger and prettier can come along and catch her husband's eye." - from the bio onbravotv.com for Taylor Armstrong, one of the new "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." I really don't know where to start. Another set of Real Housewives? Really, Bravo? Do you want to be known as the network that ended civilization? As for fancy little Taylor here, while it sounds like she has a marriage made in superficial heaven, she should be less worried about "something younger and prettier" and more worried about "something that isn't completely moronic." Really TayTay. Watch out. They're everywhere.

Monday, August 30, 2010

From the Files of "Please Have a Sandwich," Edition 5.0

Dear Kelly Ripa,

I think you're cute and actually kind of funny. You seem like a hardworking, family-oriented gal. Now, please, in the name of all that is good and holy, skip the gym for a few days. Take a little workout break. And while you're at it, EAT SOME STUFF.


This Is How They Make a Living

Kim: "You have a better, like, looking vagina than I thought."
Khloe: "What? What did you think my vagina was going to look like?
Kim: "I don't know, I never looked at your vagina. I thought it was, like, a shaved rashy vagina."
This was an actual conversation between between Kim and Kourtney Kardashian that happened during Khloe's laser hair removal session on this week's episode of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians." The sisters must get a vagina bonus every time they say vagina. I'm sure it's good for ratings when they call attention to their vaginas by saying "vagina" as much as they can. Vagina.

Stupid Is As Stupid Dates

By now you've probably heard about Paris Hilton's latest arrest. Well, guess what? Paris wasn't the dumbest person in the car when the whole thing went down. Nope. That title goes to her boyfriend, Cy Waits. On Wednesday, Cy was promoted to Head of Nightclub Operations for Wynn and Encore Hotels -- one of the top jobs in the industry. Two days later he was busted for DUI while driving around with Paris, some marijuana, and Paris's bag of cocaine. Hours later he was fired. (Evidently Cy's former boss, Steve Wynn, doesn't like it when his top executives get arrested.) So let me get this straight: Cy got promoted to one of the most coveted, high-profile jobs in his field and decided to celebrate by getting high while driving around in his car with the most infamous celebutante of our time? Brilliant. Look, under the influence or not, these two idiots need to be kept off the streets. For real.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

From the Files of "If Everyone Jumped Off a Bridge," Volume One

"Five years ago in Vegas, yes, OK, I had my lips plumped, and it looked ridiculous, but in Vegas it's in...I had my breasts done, going from a B to a D cup, actually, because at the time, living in Vegas, that's what the norm was." - Rachel Uchitel, Tiger's #1 mistress, in this month's Allure magazine. Great reasons to deform your face and body, Raych! You might recall that Tiger paid Rachel $10 million to keep her mouth shut about the details of their sordid affair. I guess it all makes sense now, because, you know, prostitution is legal in Vegas. Just saying.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Can't She Just Buy a Brain or Something?

"Paris Hilton was released this morning on her own recognizance. This matter will be dealt with in the courts not in the media and I encourage people not to rush to judgment until all of the facts have been dealt with in a court of law. There will be no interviews and no more comments at this time." - Paris Hilton's attorney, in his official statement about Paris's arrest yesterday in Las Vegas for cocaine possession. In case you missed it, Paris and her boyfriend were pulled over by the LVPD when officers noticed marijuana smoke coming from the couple's car. And then the cops found cocaine in Paris's purse. Clearly, Paris really enjoyed her first trip to jail back in 2007. Why else would she sit in a parked car smoking pot with drugs in her bag? I mean, that would be just completely and unforgivably stupid.

Your Regularly Scheduled Sarcasm

"'Real Housewives' in Bikinis: Who Pulls It Off Best?" - a headline this morning on the "Entertainment" page at huffingtonpost.com. I think it's a great idea to encourage more body competition between these women, especially after Bethenny coined the phrase "Taste everything; eat nothing" and Michaele shared her wouldn't-sustain-a-third-grader diet. Plus, who doesn't love it when the media pit women against each other in virtual bikini contests? Hooray for responsible journalism! Keep up the good work, HuffPost!

Friday, August 27, 2010

No, No, Really, We Believe You

"Spencer had no right to steal my camera. There are other things on there that I don't want to come out, including the video of me and Heidi." - Karissa Shannon, former Playmate and former "girlfriend" of Hugh Hefner, to Radaronline.com. Karissa, who was recently photographed kissing her twin sister, Kristina, for the entertainment of partygoers at the Playboy Mansion, claims that Spencer stole the Heidi/Karissa sex tape when he was retrieving his belongings from Heid's house. Right. Spencer stole your camera, he had nothing to do with filming you and Heidi, and you are devastated that the tape will be released. Of course. And while we're at it, of course you were in love with Hef, of course it's normal to french kiss your sister, and of course you are NOT a terrible, depressing, pathetic example of womanhood and citizenry. Of course.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hollywood Is So Sensitive

"EXCLUSIVE: Studio Hopeful Final Twilight Film Won't Be Delayed Despite Local Violence" - the top headline at radaronline.com. The website reports that Summit Entertainment was due to begin filming "The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn - Part 2" sometime in the next few weeks in Brazil, but the studio is now considering other locations and a different schedule after last week's violence in Rio De Janeiro. Thirty-five civilians were taken hostage, one civilian was killed, and four police officers were wounded after a shoot-out between police and ten heavily-armed members of a drug-trafficking gang. The Guardian explains that "the 40-minute gun battle...was of proportions rarely seen outside the confilct-ridden favelas," and a Brazilian official describes the current climate in Rio as "an ocean of barbarity." Ugh. Enough already. Jeez. Don't you hate it when some stupid innocent bystanders get shot and murdered and mess up your film schedule? I know I do. I mean, I'm sure the Rio community is shaken and all, but come on: it's Bella and Edward! Priorities, people. Priorities.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Let's Talk About the Gayness

(note: this column was written when F-Bomb Café was sponsored by Swakker and called Swakker Café -- hence the references to Swakker)

At the risk of alienating a good portion of our readers, I’d like to begin this week’s column with a little math. Oh, yes. Fractions and decimals and percents, oh my! Are you excited? I know I am! Here we go: In the “Props” section of Swakker Café, there are currently 49 items in the archives. Of those 49 items, 12 celebrate moments of progress in the gay rights movement. So, 25% of the posts in “Props” are, for lack of a better term, “gay-related.” Also in the “Props” archives are 119 reader comments. Forty-six of those comments are in response to the afore-mentioned “gay” posts – that’s 39%. If you are still with me – and I have nothing but respect for those of you who have already gone to a happier place – you might wonder why one-quarter of the posts have generated a significantly larger portion of the comments. I’ll tell you why: a lot of our commenters, to quote one of them, “do not like gays.” In fact, my “pro-gay” posting is causing actual distress. Recently, a reader commented, “It pains me that Swakker is so pro-gay.” Oh, no! Pain? We’re not trying to hurt anybody here, people. And in fact these posts aren’t really “pro-gay.” They are pro-love. And in case you aren’t into all that hippie crap, one can also say that they are anti-discrimination, pro-civil rights, and, well, pro-making sense.

Before anyone gets his or her knickers in a twist, let me quickly add that I am not asserting that anyone who opposes gay marriage or “gayness” (thanks to another commenter for that) makes no sense. On the contrary. I am certain there are individuals out there who oppose gay marriage and make lots of sense and have well developed, articulate arguments to support their points. They just don’t leave comments on our website. And before I address these comments, I’d like to add that, as a general rule, I don’t respond to the comments. No one here at Swakker does. Rather, we want the comments section to be a place where you, the reader, can have a conversation with other readers about the topics we address. In fact, we want the comments to grow longer than the columns; we want to provide the content around which interesting, respectful discussions of important issues can happen. But where “gayness” is concerned, this is not at all what has been happening. Rather, the comments include the following:

“Why is it always the gays?”
“I don’t agree with gayness.”
“At least they can’t reproduce.”
“Just as vegetarians are lousy hunters, gays couldn’t get a date.”
“This is just wrong.”

I am going to respond to these, because, well, I can’t help myself. I’ll be quick. (1) It isn’t “always the gays.” One-quarter of the least frequently updated section of the website is not “always.” (2) Okay. That’s fine. WHY? (3) Wow. That’s just mean. (4) Okay, that doesn’t make any sense. Really. With all due respect, that’s just silly. (5) Again, fair enough, but WHY??? This is only the tip of the iceberg. I’ve had to delete at least ten comments because the language was too offensive – and always these comments were about the gayness. So, what’s up out there? Why so angry? And why so anti-gay? I know there are debates to be had, and we pro-gay people want to have them! But no one can argue with “I don’t agree with gayness.” I mean, fine. But all these hollow disagreements do is embolden us on the pro-gay side, because there is no reason behind them.

I’m not trying to make any point about the pro-gay side versus the anti-gay side -- or, alternatively, the pro-love side versus the anti-love side (just saying). Really, this is about conversation, about dialogue, and about progress. As in, let’s have some. I’ll show you my reasons if you show me yours.

Have You Seen My Career? It's Around Here Somewhere

Us Weekly reports that the line up for this season of "Dancing with the Stars" is almost complete. So far, the cast includes David Hasselhoff, Kirstie Alley, Jennifer Grey (from "Dirty Dancing), Troy Aikman, Audrina Partridge, Brandy (she used to make music), Florence Henderson (from "The Brady Bunch), and...wait for it...wait for it...Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino" from "Jersey Shore." Um, wow. I'm going to give Troy Aikman a pass on this one, but the rest of that line up really brings the whole "star" thing into question. Maybe "Dancing with Plastic Surgery, Bad Choices, and Alcoholism" would be a better title.

If By "Heartbreaking" You Mean "Evidence of Your Stupidity," Then I Agree

"I'm obsessed with fitness but it's impossible to workout with these boobs. It's heartbreaking. I can't live an every day life." - Heidi Montag, to Life&Style magazine, explaining why she wants to have her G cup implants removed. Heidi explained, "I'm desperate to go back to normal. I'm downgrading and going a little smaller, to a D or double D." Heidi, you can downgrade to an A cup and you'll still be nowhere near normal, my dear. Just saying.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gym, Tan, Vomit

Yesterday we reported that "Jersey Shore's" Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino will make $5 million this year, largely from endorsements. As if that alone is not enough to call into question the state of our society, TMZ.com reports that The Sit received a $400,000 bonus for signing on as the spokesperson for Devotion vodka. The booze contains casein, a milk protein, which the company claims will increase muscle and decrease fat when used in combination with a weight training program. Awesome. It's always good to do vodka shots before you hit the bench press machine, right? As stupid as this idea is, I have to give it up to the folks at Devotion for picking a spokesperson. I mean, nothing says ridiculous, muscle-obsessed, and drunk like the cast of "Jersey Shore." Stay classy, Devotion.

Photo courtesy of TMZ.com

Hannah Montana, Unrated

"The 17 year-old actress old actress loses her virginity, talks about sex incessantly, smokes marijuana, kisses one of her two best female friends on the lips, gets wasted and accidentally shows her mom, Ann (Demi Moore), her Brazilian wax." - fromhollywoodlife.com, a description of Miley Cyrus's performance as Lola in "LOL: Laughing Out Loud," the movie she is currently filming with Demi Moore. Yeah, well, when one begins pole dancing performances at 16, this seems to be the next logical step. Way to represent your young fans, Miley! Hollywoodlife also reports that in one scene, Demi's character yells at Miley's, "You're my daughter, and I won't let you turn into a porn star!" Too late, Demi. Too late.

Monday, August 23, 2010

This Day Just Keeps Getting Better

This morning, I found out that I agree with Bill O'Reilly. As you can imagine, it took a few hours for me to recover. I had just risen from my sick bed when I read athollywoodreporter.com that "...breakout star [Mike] Sorrentino (aka The Situation) has jumped at the opportunity to capitalize on his fame. By year's end, the 29 year-old stands to earn more than $5 million..." Let me just repeat this for you: One of the stars of MTV's "Jersey Shore" is going to make $5 million this year. And, get this: most of his money won't come from MTV, but from endorsements. Endorsements? What? This chucklehead can't possibly make anyone want to buy anything -- well, other than a sledge hammer for the TV. But $5 million dollars. $5 million dollars for "gym, tan, laundry." Okay. I'm going back to bed now.

Pigs Fly, Hell Freezes Over, etc. etc.

"I'll tell you this: If a 16 year-old girl was pictured with a 29 year-old man in any of that, he'd be in big trouble." - Bill O' Reilly, on his show "The O'Reilly Factor," in a conversation about the spread in this month's Elle magazine that features 16 year-old Justin Bieber and 29 year-old Kim Kardashian. In the photos, the two frolic in the surf before Kim pretends to seduce little Justin. It is, in fact, creepy and hypocritical. Which means that...um....I...agree...with...him. I agree with Bill O'Reilly. I agree with Bill O'Reilly. I AGREE WITH BILL O'REILLY. I'm sorry. I need to go lie down for a while. My soul hurts.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

By "Lodge" They Mean "Bordello"

"A unique male-focused travel concept will launch this November at the Lynx Lodge at Lake Macquarie, New South Wales. The lodge has everything a guy could want -- pool table, spa, jetty and a team of lodging staff who also happen to be part-time models...lodge staff will not only serve breakfast in bed and clean rooms, but will also party with guests, take them to the best fishing spots and help them improve their golf handicap. On-demand back rubs are available on request." - fromtravelagentcentral.com's description of the new, men-only vacation spot. Back rubs, huh? So that's what the kids call it these days. Stay classy, Lynx Lodge.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Those Crazy Kids

From The New York Post: "A 12 year-old girl was busted yesterday [Wednesday] for peddling crack and pot on a Queens street corner -- one of 43 people nabbed as part of a massive drug ring, authorities said...'She does not look 12,' said NYPD Inspector Michael Bryan. 'We were very shocked to find out' her age." Yeah, well, you know, crack tends to age a person. Um, what the &*%$ is going on? A 12 year-old selling crack? Good thing the government cut back funding for arts and music programs in public schools, because clearly kids have more sophisticated hobbies. Just saying.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Crime Does Pay

Remember the days when all one had to do to get her own reality show was sleep around or emotionally scar her children? I miss that. I miss the security of a world in which a person had to go only as far as a moral mistake or maybe a minor misdemeanor to attract fame. Those days are gone. The big business of reality television and its promise of instant if not permanent stardom have spawned a new generation of criminals, and this crew isn’t messing around. I'm not talking about little things like Snooki's public drunkenness arrest. I’m talking about full-on felonies and near-fatal stunts. Worse, these new criminals aren’t just risking their own lives and dignities – they’re risking ours. Sure, it’s all fun and games watching the Gosselins rob their kids of normal childhoods, and everyone seems to enjoy the borderline prostitution of “The Bachelor” franchise, but it’s serious now, people. Look at the past week in entertainment news, and it’s clear that reality TV is the new organized crime.

Let’s start with Steven Slater. You might know him as “the Jet Blue guy.” For those of you who don’t have TV or Internet access (and therefore can’t read this, I know, just go with it), Slater was a flight attendant for Jet Blue Airlines until a week ago. On August 9, just after landing at JFK airport and after an alleged, ongoing argument with a rude passenger, Steven grabbed the plane’s intercom and cursed out the hostile passenger. Then, he grabbed two beers, activated the emergency exit chute, and slid  -- beers in hand -- to the bottom, where he was arrested for reckless endangerment and criminal mischief. By the next day he was an Internet sensation and, according to many, “a folk hero.” A HERO? Okay, look, I love cursing people out over intercoms as much as the next girl. I also think two beers are, generally, better than one. And I totally agree that an inflatable slide makes any leap into unemployment much more fun. Still, I think Slater’s a jerk. Airlines follow all sorts of annoying laws for a reason -- they want to keep planes from falling out of the sky. So, in this case at least, laws are good. One of those laws, I am certain, prohibits a person from activating a very expensive piece of safety equipment on a busy runway for no good reason. And, yes, Slater was arrested. He posted $2500 bail and now awaits trial for his felony charges. You know what he’s doing while he waits for his court date? Meeting with his agent and fielding offers for TV shows. Yesterday, his newly-minted publicist, Howard Bragman, told the press, “I can officially confirm that I am now representing Steven Slater…I will be helping him sort out the scores of offers that have come through in the past week from media, producers, brands and other interested parties.” So, he’s “fielding offers.” “Scores of” them. You know what else he is doing? He’s high-fiving the one or two people with whom he discussed his plans for the elaborate stunt. Because, come on, this was so planned.

From the beginning, Slater’s tale reeked of premeditation. The way he tells it, he was just fed up with rude treatment at the hands of passengers, and he snapped. First of all, it seems unlikely that if he were really pushed to his limit he would have had the patience for such a well-choreographed exit. I mean, two beers? Come on. Have you ever tried to open a door with two beers in your hands? A regular old door? It's tricky, trust me. I don’t believe that a man so enraged could deliver a perfectly coherent speech to a crowded plane and then activate an inflatable slide while double-fisting beers. Plus, among Slater, his reps, and the passengers, there are glaring inconsistencies about when the argument occurred and what exactly happened. A passenger from the flight went so far as to say that Slater started the fight. Well, of course he did. I’m not sure what bugs me most – that Slater so selfishly disregarded the safety of other people, that he is so shamelessly trying to get attention, or that people are so clearly falling for it.

Those of you who think I should reserve my judgment and give Steven Slater the benefit of the doubt should brace yourselves. Stevie was just my warm-up example. Remember Fantasia Barrino? If your answer is no, well, then, that’s my point. Some of you may remember Fantasia as the winner of "American Idol" Season 3. Fewer of you might remember her as Celie in the Broadway version of "The Color Purple." But the likelihood is that if you know who Fantasia is, it’s because she tried to kill herself last week after reports of her affair with a married man and rumors of their sex tape hit the news. So, let’s all welcome Fantasia to the Fame Felons Federation. Take a bow, Fantie! See, although sleeping with a married man is not a crime in most states (relax, Rachel Uchitel), filing a false police report is, and Fantasia did. Well, her manager, who called 911, did, anyway, because Fantasia did not try to kill herself. Yes, I am going to say it. No one else wants to say it; I guess I’m not supposed to say it, but I’m saying it: Fantasia faked a suicide attempt to get people to watch her show.

When Fantasia’s manager, Brian Dickens, called 911, he said that a woman “had taken a bottle of aspirin and is slowly losing consciousness.” If you haven’t heard the 911 call and you still think Fantasia, a single mom raising a daughter, really wanted to kill herself, please go listen to the tape. And please promise me that if I ever try to kill myself you will summon a little more urgency than Mr. Dickens, who I am relatively certain was getting a massage while he was on the phone. I don’t sound that relaxed in my sleep. I don’t know if Dickens is always this calm in an emergency if he was just comforted by the fact that nobody who wants to die overdoses on aspirin. Oh, excuse me, it was aspirin and a “sleep aid.” Dickens later explained to the press that the “media attention” for her affair with a married man led Fantasia to a state of despair. Yeah, those American Idol-winning, Broadway-starring, sex-tape making singers hate media attention. If you still think I’m being harsh, you should know that the day after Fantasia was released from the hospital, she was filmed outside her home having a serious discussion with Antwaun Cook, her married boyfriend. Guess who filmed them? The crew from Fantasia’s reality show. Oh, and I almost forgot: Fantasia’s new album will be released next week, on August 24, two weeks to the day after news of her attempted suicide hit the Internet. Crazy coincidence, isn’t it? I know, I know: I might be wrong. What if Fantasia really wanted to die? Then how will I feel? I’ll feel like a jerk. I’ll feel like a complete jerk. And, for what it’s worth, I totally rooted for Fantasia on “American Idol.” I even saw her in "The Color Purple." There is nothing about her that makes me think she’d fake a suicide attempt. Well, except that she did, of course.

Obviously and unfortunately, a lot more people will tune in to Fantasia’s reality show after this last week of drama. Likewise, even if he serves jail time, I imagine we’ll be seeing Steven Slater on TV some day soon. If you don’t want to see our world overrun by anarchy, I am begging you: do not watch these shows. Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic; I don’t think we’re headed to complete destruction necessarily. But when people with good jobs and real talent turn to irresponsible, dangerous, and illegal behaviors to get attention, we should probably worry a little. When the cast of “Jersey Shore” are some of the more upstanding citizens in reality television, maybe we’re sending out the wrong messages. No offense, Snooki, but Steven and Fantasia are making you look good. And that's bad.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cosmo Is Lame-O

Yesterday I read that Cosmopolitan Magazine is launching an iPhone app called “Sex Tip of the Day.” That’s right. Sex tip of the day. There’s an app for that! It sounded so ridiculous that of course I “ran” straight to Cosmopolitan.com to check it out. Ten seconds after the page opened, I forgot all about the app. My goodness, people. If you or someone you know reads Cosmopolitan Magazine, get help. I mean, I knew Cosmo was a little silly. One needs only to read the cover to figure that out. But, you know, I read Us Weekly religiously, so I am not one to disparage silly reading. What I didn’t know, though, is that Cosmopolitan Magazine is involved in an elaborate ploy to confuse and possibly disable young women under the guise of sexual progressiveness. Either that or the people who write for the magazine are just stupid. Tough call.

Let’s revisit the app for a moment. I wasn’t -- nor should anyone be -- particularly surprised that Cosmo chose “Sex Tip of the Day” as its foray into the explosive iPhone app business. Cosmo, if you don’t know, is all about s-e-x. Back in the 1970s, the magazine was launched as a woman’s periodical that catered to the “sexually fearless single lady who dates many men.” And back in the ‘70s, this was a pretty controversial and even revolutionary approach. But it’s not the 1970s anymore, and we live in a post Carrie Bradshaw world, so the whole shtick seems kind of tired. When I think of Cosmo, I think of quizzes about sexual positions and advice about dating dilemmas, and, frankly, I like my magazines to focus on other people’s dating and sex dilemmas. I’ll manage my own, thanks. I’m lucky that’s the case, because clearly the people who churn out this drivel are just making it up as they go. Worse, Cosmo’s vibe is a lot less “fearless single lady” than it is “confused desperate lady.” This inconsistency makes for a lot of mixed messages, as you can imagine. Although I could write for weeks about the nonsense I read on the website (don’t tempt me), I am going to focus on two articles. They are “What Guys Secretly Think of Your Hair and Makeup: The truth revealed” and “10 Beauty Moves Guys Find Sexy.” Now you might think after reading the headlines that these sound like the same article. You are right. And just in case you miss these two, the website also offers “Makeup That Turns Him On.” Third time’s a charm!

Let’s start with the obvious, which is that most of the magazine’s headlines have the word “Guys” in them. Cosmo definitely wants to tell you what GUYS like and what GUYS want because clearly GUYS are very important. Don’t get me wrong; I like guys. I have one of my very own. But, come on. If I wanted to read about what GUYS like so much I’d buy a GUYS’ magazine. But maybe it’s just me. Maybe some women really, really want to know what GUYS like. If you are one of them, I implore you, don’t ask Cosmopolitan. Because no one there has any freaking idea. To wit, let’s look at advice from my two favorite articles.  “What Guys Think of Your Hair and Makeup" cautions women against fake eyelashes. It recommends, “…you may want to rethink falsies. Men don’t like anything that looks fake. It’s distracting and they want to see the real you.” Okay. Men think false eyelashes are distracting. False eyelashes bad. Not exactly. Click over to “10 Beauty Moves Men Find Sexy,” where a GUY describes his girlfriend’s (false) eyelashes. It reads, “’Right now, her eyelashes look so fluffy,’ says Derek, 24, who didn’t know she was wearing falsies at the time. ‘Her eyes are her best features, so I love that her lashes make my attention go straight there.’” So…falsies attract his attention. False eyelashes good? I’m so confused! What do GUYS want? Fortunately, it all gets cleared up in another great article, “Sex Tips from GUYS.” Clint, 25, breaks it down: “A girl who looks virginal but is really a sex kitten is every man’s dream.” Ahhh, okay. So, let’s review. False eyelashes are good and bad, and women should be virginal sex kittens. Got it. Anything else? Oh yes. Turns out that mixed messages aren’t just for your magazines and your man. If you’re a fearless single lady, you should send confusing messages, too. “Sex Tips from GUYS” quotes Ron, 25, who tells us how much he liked it when his girlfriend “pretended not to want to kiss me.” Awesome. So, to summarize: GUYS think it’s hot when you do and don’t wear fake eyelashes, when you are prudish and promiscuous, and when you say both yes and no. No problem. Thanks, Cosmo!

I could go on – no, really, I could. But you get the point. Cosmopolitan Magazine makes no sense. I wonder if maybe the joke’s on me, and it’s sort of like professional wrestling. Everyone knows it’s fake, but it’s funny so who cares? Is that it? I hope so. Because if anyone out there – girl or GUY – takes this stuff seriously, we’ve got trouble, people. Trouble. Cosmo might want to think less about GUYS and more about positive messages for women. Maybe there’s an app for that.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Revolt Against the Pony Army

We're in trouble, ladies. They're trying to destroy us. I'm not kidding -- and I’m not speaking only to women. If you care about a girl or know a girl, stay with me. And before I go any further, let me just say this: I am a girl. I even possess what some would call stereotypical or “girlie” qualities. I like lip gloss. I also like puppies, babies, and walks on the beach, okay? I don’t like romantic comedies, though, or weddings, and I don’t care about “Twilight.” If you do, that’s cool. No judgment here. All to say, I am not so rigid that I can’t appreciate feminine proclivities or individual inclination. But I’m talking about the big picture here, and in that framework our progress as a group has been dramatically halted.

This week, I had the honor of playing for hours with a brilliant, funny, independent, three year-old girl. In addition to about 7000 other toys, this kid has every single pony in Hasbro’s “My Little Pony” family. Her most recent acquisition is a pony called “Rainbow Dash.” Rainbow Dash came with a booklet that identifies and describes the other ponies in her posse. Their names are…wait for it…Toola Roola, Sweetie Belle, Starsong, Pinkie Pie, Scootaloo, and Cheerilee. Um, what? I mean, Scootaloo is actually a pretty rad name and I have no gripe with Starsong, but Pinkie Pie and Sweetie Belle are just horrible. Still, since I am prone to overreaction, I figured I’d investigate the herd before disparaging the whole lot based on nomenclature. Here’s what I found, on the back of Rainbow Dash’s box: “Rainbow Dash loves to look pretty. She shows off her brightly colored outfits when playing with her friends.” Wow. Rainbow Dash reminds girls how important it is to look pretty! Great! The other ponies’ interests are detailed in the booklet, too, and they include baking, pink balloons, dancing, cake decorating, butterflies, and hairdressing. Look, I like getting my hair done, too, and I’ve baked a few cakes in my day. But this is a little much. Girls do other things besides bake, braid, and buy.

During my marathon toddler-play session, we also watched “The Princess and the Frog.” Yeah, yeah, I know, TV is bad for kids. I hear you. Stay focused, people. Have you seen “The Princess and the Frog?” I chose this movie from the On Demand list because it looks progressive; the heroine is a hard-working, single girl who is busting her Disney-drawn butt to save money for the restaurant she wants to open, and the characters are not all white. It started out okay. Early in the film, the heroine, Tiana, tells her mother flat out that she doesn’t have time for “messing around” with men. Preach it, Tiana. But, um, spoiler alert: the movie ends with Tiana’s wedding. Oh, sure, Disney throws in a fast and gratuitous montage of Tiana opening her restaurant at the conclusion, but the message is that she was not really happy until she found true love. I’m not ragging on love, but children are the audience for this stuff. Usually girls. Young girls who think concretely and can't understand the complex psychological factors that may have led Tiana to avoid intimacy. All they will see is this: Tiana is sad; Tiana meets man; Tiana gets married; Tiana is happy. That's as lame a message as the one from Rainbow Dash and her pretty self. Certainly, parents can opt not to show the book or film to their girls, but Disney is an insidious presence in the big playground of childhood. Plus, whether or not parents can effectively censor what their kids see and hear isn’t the point. The point is, be pretty and get a man are popular goals being modeled for girls. We're dumbing them down, people. You know that whole "survival of the fittest" thing? We should help young girls develop fitter personas. Rainbow Dash and Tiana are not getting the job done.

Toy ponies and animated films are only the beginning. In adulthood women face a much more formidable foe -- each other. Exhibit A: Gisele Bundchen. You may know Gisele from her career as a supermodel, or maybe you know her as the girl who married football hero Tom Brady, America’s own Prince Charming. I know her as the woman who wants women to surrender control of their bodies. I read at least five articles this week about an interview with GBun that appears in Harper’s Bazaar UK. Gisele talks to the magazine about her experiences as a new mother to seven month-old Benjamin and says, “Some people here think they don’t have to breastfeed, and I think, ‘Are you going to give chemical food to your child when they are so little?’ There should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months.” A law. A law telling women that they have no privacy in making decisions about their bodies. Yeah, we used to have one of those, Gisele, and we overturned it with a little decision called Roe V. Wade. I am not going to bore you with a long, outraged tirade over the very idea of a multimillionaire with a perfectly healthy baby and all the resources in the world suggesting that other women be mandated by law to breastfeed. And I know “breast is best.” I get that. Absolutely. But why would a woman tell another woman what to do with her life and her body? Does Gisele have that little empathy for less fortunate moms? The answers are I don't know and evidently yes. Of course, Gisele is feeling pretty confident, I imagine, given her stunning successes at the Rainbow Dash School of Pretty and Tiana's Academy of Prince Marriage.

Gisele seems to have forgotten the most important factor in group success, unity. Bundchen's approach is less about unity and more about "divide and conquer," a technique she might have learned from The Real Housewives, who have been well documented in this space for elevating in-fighting to an art form. Likewise, Hasbro and Disney have some pretty high-profile support in their attempts to devalue the female brain. Take Carly Fiorina, the politician who in June won the California Republican primary to run against Barbara Boxer for a senate seat. Shortly after her victory, which I like to think was based on hard work and some smidgen of smarts, Fiorina forgot her microphone was on during a TV spot and was caught saying about Boxer, “God, what is that hair? Soooo yesterday.” Her hair. She attacked her political rival’s hair. Why? Is that really what she is thinking about? Does she think that's a smart thing to say? What is going on? I don't know about you, but I blame Pinkie Pie.

I read about a lot of amazing women every day, and I know a lot of amazing women. But for all the progress these amazing women make, there are others who take the gender backwards, whether they know it or not. I tend to think Hasbro knows it. So, shame on them. Ditto for Carly Fiorina. As for Gisele, well, I’m not sure how much she knows. It’s not too late to learn, G.B. And it's time to bring the girl power, girls. We have to value and applaud the smarts we see in ourselves and in each other and tell the Hasbros of the world to **** off. Now, if that isn’t an eloquent call to arms, I don’t know what is.