Image By Terry Richardson

Nothing GQ About It

GQ Cover, "Glee Gone Wild" 2010

GQ Cover, "Glee Gone Wild" 2010

The cover and featured photo shoot of GQ this month is its own rocky horror picture show. Three actors from the hit show Glee pose as a “sexy” threesome of co-eds without much clothing — on the girls. Meanwhile, Cory Monteith sports long sleeves and pants. And a grin.

What’s worse, the article is boring and the photos inside might as well be in Maxim, with crotch shots and poses pandering to a Lolita fetish. Yep, red lollipops and white cotton underwear — not exactly what you’d want a tween girl to admire and emulate — especially while straddling a bench… at school.

The headline, “Glee Gone Wild,” is reminiscent of “Girls Gone Wild,”  made particularly distasteful given the constant oversexualization of young women in entertainment and the reports that Lea Michele and Dianna Agron have “never been shot in so little clothing.”

Image By Terry Richardson, GQ

“I don’t know how they got me to do half the stuff I did.” Michele said. “But I was in really good shape this summer, so… “

…You did it anyway? Did you do it for Mardi Gras beads? Was Joe Francis there and has GQ forgotten that they are referencing a business created by a convicted child abuser who was charged with prostitution (aka a sex offender)? I don’t get it.

After all the fun and compelling girl power of the show, Michele and Agron are selling out to celebrity sexism — they’re just two more women who feel like they need to expose their bodies to gain attention.

“It’s simply a case of two actresses seizing the career-climbing opportunity to appear on the cover of a popular men’s magazine,” writes Kevin Fallon in the Atlantic Monthly.

Image By Terry Richardson, GQ

Yeah, it’s “simply” a reality, but it doesn’t have to be — women don’t need to debase themselves — just as they don’t need plastic surgery, to lose weight, or to change who they are to get ahead.

I thought these two got it, but clearly I was wrong. “I’m proud to be on a positive show and to be a voice for girls and say, ‘You don’t need to look like everybody else. Love who you are,'” said Lea Michele about deciding not to get a nose job.

It’s one thing to be confident, but it’s another to seek this kind of “American Apparel ad-inspired” attention. Tweens and teens look up to these actors and it’s their responsibility to be decent role models — especially because they play underage characters on the show and GQ is for men.

“It is disturbing that GQ, which is explicitly written for adult men, is sexualizing the actresses who play high school-aged characters on ‘Glee’ in this way. It borders on pedophilia,” said the President of the the Parents Television Council in the Wall Street Journal.

While it’s not actually “pedophilia,” because they are in their twenties, I get what the PTC means, it’s confusing because they portray high school students, so to feature the actors (un)dressed as “teens” to men, is very Humbert Humbert.

I believe women have the freedom to pose in their skivvies when they are of age (Dianna Agron is 24, Corey Monteith is 28 and Lea Michele is 24), but I don’t understand why anyone does it. The show is a success and it often touts empowerment to women, why pose with your ass showing on the cover of a magazine, but then talk about loving yourself? Given Lea Michele’s desire to be a “positive” influence, the photos and interviews I’ve read are completely contrary.

Glee is great because everyone can enjoy it. People say the median viewer age is 38-years-old, but I’ve heard many tweens say their families watch it together. And, I’m sure that age stat doesn’t count all the views on Hulu — where most teens are consuming their shows anyway.

Image By Terry Richardson, GQ

Aside from being disappointed in these talented young women, I’m mostly angry with how sexist GQ is: What’s so wild about Cory Monteith’s rugby shirt and pants? Why is he fully clothed and the young women are not?All of the pictures of him are so wholesome!

GQ is a sexist rag, degrading women with racy photos and at times violence-inspired images like the January Jones shoot. These photo spreads may be “art,” but I’m sick of the art of demeaning young women.

There’s nothing Glee-ful about this publicity. Nor is GQ showing any “style” or “smarts.”

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Image By amctv.com

“Let’s Get Liberated” Like Peggy

On this week’s episode of Mad Men, copy writer Peggy Olson dealt with the new lazy art director, Stan Rizzo, who claimed to only be inspired by nudity.  And, despite the drama of Don Draper’s downward alcoholism spiral, I found that to be the least interesting aspect of this episode. In fact, poignancy derived from Peggy’s story line, which examines women’s self-esteem and how they feel about their self-worth.

Peggy Olson
Image via Wikipedia

From the onset, Peggy’s looks and talent are challenged by Stan — who everyone thinks has great ideas and is attractive. Peggy, who has invested her life in the company and worked her way up to copy writer, begins questioning her abilities because she is often an outsider from the men and women, who gets little praise from anyone in the office — including her boss Don.

In between clips of Don and Sterling scenes, as they search for their own self-worth in the ad world, we see Peggy, after days of trying to stimulate Stan’s creativity while suffering through degrading and sexist comments from him, in complete anguish over Stan’s horrible personality and lack of inspiration. When he decides that she must record his thoughts as he dictates them aloud, he says, “Toots, grab a pencil.”

Bewildered and annoyed, Peggy retorts, “Why don’t you write down my ideas?” (We know the answer to that question!) At this point she is unable to stand his idiocy, so she goes to Don for help.

Lost in his own world of drunken denial, Don doesn’t provide any advice to Peggy and tells her to have the pitch ready on Monday. He suggests that she work around Stan’s idiosyncrasies to get the job done. However, by this time, Stan has insulted her many times, flirted with the secretaries and laid on tables smoking in the office. By the end of the day on Friday, they still have nothing.

In an effort to meet the Monday deadline, Peggy and Stan stay in a hotel room where she tries to generate ideas with him, brainstorming as he flips through the pages of a Playboy.  “Are you gonna work or just stare at pictures of women who can’t stare back?”

Now, if this were a typical, sexist rom-com, the pair would come to find each other attractive after being locked in the room together and fall into bed (and love) as they finished their award-winning ad and Stan takes all the credit, but Peggy’s happy because she has a boyfriend. Thankfully, this is not the case.

Out of frustration (and after he insists that she’s ashamed of her body, or that she should be), Peggy says, “Let’s get liberated,” and begins taking off her clothes in hopes of getting their work done and proving that she’s not what he thinks and can get the job done, no matter the cost. (Click to watch clip here.)

As she strips down naked, he is stunned by her moxie and isn’t able to concentrate on anything except for her naked body as she chats about Vicks cough drops.  Despite all of his insults about her appearance and lack of talent, he is unable to come up with anything but an erection. Despite being in his “creative element,” he concedes to her and hides in the bathroom as Peggy smiles triumphantly.

What’s great about this scene is that she doesn’t kowtow to his chauvinism. I’m never interested in women gaining power through their sexuality, but Peggy keeps things professional and in the end she confirms, for herself, that she is confident, beautiful, hard-working and talented.

Stripping down naked wasn’t about sex or making him want her. She’s not sexually attracted to him, nor does she want him to find her attractive, she merely wants to prove that she believes in herself and she is not ashamed of who she is. As Peggy bares it all, the only thing she is actually revealing, is her own inner strength.

I think the fact that her character is doing this in the early sixties is even more impressive. Now it seems women use their sexuality to gain status, attention, money and power, but for some reason, this scene seemed really about truth and being honest with herself — stripping down all the b.s. of awards, who’s who, appearances, etc.

I wish we could all find the courage to stand up for ourselves and believe in who we are as people — especially women — because we are often taught to shy away from challenges or to be modest of our talents. What other people say, or how other people perceive us has nothing to do with who we are as individuals.

So, take it from Peggy and get liberated — whether that’s telling yourself you’re amazing in the mirror every morning, completing a goal, checking off that last item on your to-do list, or making a statement to the world — whatever the case, do what you need to feel strong, autonomous and true to yourself.

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Gwyneth Paltrow, Image By Skins.be

Celebrity Mother Knows Best?

Gwyneth Paltrow, Image By Virgin Media

There are many celebrity moms who are taking the media by storm as “pregnancy pundits,” touting parenting tips, fitness advice and more. Stars like Angelina Jolie, Bryce Dallas Howard and celebrity bloggers Kourtney Kardashian and Bethenny Frankel, dazzle audiences with their openness and cute photos. And people are reading it.

Now, the list of pregnancy pundits continues to grow beyond the third trimester. Gisele Bundchen is a champion for breast-feeding and home births, while Gwyneth Paltrow is releasing her new cook book and revealing her struggles with postpartum depression. “I was confronted with one of the darkest and most painfully debilitating chapters of my life,” Paltrow wrote in her newsletter, GOOP.

Yet, these moms aren’t the only ones willing to share their family secrets and personal insights on motherhood. A number of celebrity mom and babe sites are filling the Google search engine, baby powdering the web with photos of  A-list babies and the products their famous mommies use, sometimes, without their permission. So, why all the interest in these leading ladies and their broods?

Gisele Bundchen in Vogue

Well, I think there are a few things at play, first, people are nosy and they want to know everything about these women’s personal lives. Second, pregnancy, birth and motherhood are no longer taboo to discuss. Over the last ten years the pregnancy bump has become a trophy, rather than a reason to stay out of the spot light (or off the red carpet) for a few months.  And, thanks to women like Angelina Jolie, women are can still land high-powered and interesting roles after mommy-dom.

Even in India, things are changing. Look at actress and former Miss World, Aishwarya Rai, she’s one of the few actresses to continue her successful career in film after getting married to actor Abhishek Bachchan. Often, after an Indian actress marries, in Bollywood it can mean bye-bye career. Hopefully after Aishwarya Rai has kids she’ll be able to continue acting if she wants too.

Anyway, back to the point, I think the paparazzi’s obsession with celebrity baby photographs is a little scary and potentially dangerous, but if the mothers are willing to give photos and speak about their experiences, I think that’s great. People obviously want to read about their lives as parents and who doesn’t want to see their cute babies?

I mean, truth be told, when they do comply and offer advice, I’d be willing to follow their tips if I were shopping for a friend’s baby. They have access to the best fashion, beauty and baby products — why wouldn’t I want to know what’s the best? In fact, when it comes to style these moms know best.

Not sure how to tap into all these celebrity parenting tips? Well, here are a some websites where these moms are featured:

Babble.com – Famecrawler blog

People Magazine — Moms and Babies

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Image By CultureSponge

Will the Real Housewives Please Stand Up

Beyonce as "B.B. Homemaker"

This month Beyonce went retro in a 50’s sitcom-inspired music video for her song “Why Don’t You Love Me,” while also calling attention to the traditional pressures women face due to gender inequality. As a overburdened, depressed and unloved housewife, “B.B. Homemaker” drinks her misery away and croons about her unfulfilled life, despite being seemingly “perfect.”

After watching this video, I started to ponder portrayals of women in domestic roles on television and how, frankly, the job seems pretty thankless and scary — bringing us to the question, “Why don’t we love housewives?”

I mean, yes, we do have the pretty and pleasant housewives in commercials, who do their best to make kitchen floors shine and get stains out of their family’s clothes as they smile happily, but most roles of housewives on television are sad, crazy or stupid.

We have the likes of “Betty Draper” in Mad Men, a self-serving and mistreated sixties housewife with a drinking problem; then there’s schizophrenic “Tara Gregson” in the United States of Tara whose family is falling a part do to the tornado of her alter egos; next up we have the drug dealing Nancy Botwin in Weeds, who is perhaps the most selfish character ever written as she burns down neighborhoods and sleeps with drug lords; and finally there are the many ladies of Wisteria Lane on ABC, who deal with murder and remarriages to no end on Desperate Housewives; along with several other comedic mother-wives on 30-minute sitcoms who play it straight to joke-cracking husbands.

"Nancy Botwin" on Weeds

Each of these characters is a homemaker, creating an unfit home life with their destructive behaviors. These extreme roles lack the kindness, intelligence and responsible nature of real women. And, I’ll be honest, these representations don’t make the job appealing, which in a way, is an insult to mothers and wives of the past, present and future.

So what about those homemakers on reality TV, you ask?

They might as well be a modern version of Beyonce’s B.B. Homemaker, all dressed up and ready to act out what it means to be a “housewife,” making a statement about American culture. However, these ladies aren’t being ironic. The women who are “Real Housewives” exploit their wealth and silliness in top cities across the country on Bravo, or there’s the “swappers” who are willing to trade in their family for another, and who could forget the mom’s who have given up on their kids, ready for a nanny to take over on network television.

How are these women commenting on real world experience? You tell me. Are all women seeking to trade their families, be unhappy millionaire’s wives, or live selfish prime time soap opera-esque lives?

The Real Housewives of Orange County

I think housewives are being objectified and silenced in a different way than the past. The wealthy, irresponsible reality TV stars and the TV show characters create a new stereotype of housewife, but not in a good way. Any of these scripted series would make any young woman think twice before moving to the suburbs if they thought their lives would be similar.

I mean, really, if the lives of wives on TV are any indication, young and married urbanites should be desperate to avoid wisteria-covered houses, back-stabbing neighbors (ha, literally!) and screaming, ungrateful children altogether.The suburbs seem to be a breeding ground of hatred, lies, divorce and dissatisfaction.

Maybe the term “housewife” needs a makeover and quite possibly, a publicist. Those shows, both fiction and “non-fiction” are created for entertainment, not to depict realistic versions of women we are, or will become. Was that the point of B.B. Homemaker? Is Beyonce a feminist too?

Since I’m not a housewife myself, I cannot speak on their behalf, however, as a feminist, I believe it’s important that we are aware of this disservice to strong, smart, generous and talented women who choose the role. We must also defend our right to work in the public or private spheres. Being liberated doesn’t make anyone better than another — whether she works in an office, on television, or at home — we are all equals.

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The Simpson Family

“Tik Tok” Time Up for the Simpsons

Does Matt Groening wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy… or Ke$ha?

Why would the writers and illustrators of The Simpsons rework the notable opening of the show to “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha of all songs?

Simpsons Via Wikipedia

Seriously? That song is popular, yes, but there have been many great songs worthy of taking a trip through Springfield since the inception of the show. Why this one?

Is time up for this once iconic show?

If you haven’t seen it, check it out below, there’s a clip of the opening reenactment of the lyrics from “Tik Tok,” with the citizens of Springfield lip syncing — including Lisa Simpson who is the first to awake. Thankfully, she’s not brushing her teeth with a “bottle of Jack,” that’s Groundskeeper Willy‘s job.

I’m not offended by the change, I actually thought it was a cute idea,  I’m simply confused by the song choice. Will they be doing this a lot? Isn’t it an involved process to animate?

I also thought it was weird since the entire episode is about how people are treating Lisa Simpson, the notorious brainiac, like she’s stupid because she has blonde (yellow) hair. I don’t mean to be a stickler for plot lines regarding a Fox Network series airing since 1989, but the audience knows the characters, they don’t even change their outfits — why would Springfield suddenly not know Lisa is smart?

And, more importantly, why make fun of “dumb blondes” the episode where the opening is modified to celebrate a young blonde entertainer?

Lisa Simpson

Image via Wikipedia

Maybe this was all meant to be a bit of Simpsons’ irony, draw attention to the problem (stereotyping blonde women’s intelligence) and then show why it’s not true — by showcasing Ke$ha music and Lisa’s smarts. (However, the song is contrary to all of Lisa’s hard-working efforts and do-gooder personality.)

Even if this is the case, I’d like to hear what other people are saying about the episode.

Has The Simpsons just run out of ideas? Was the pop-y opening a ploy to rope in a younger generation now that twenty-somethings who grew up with it are getting bored?

Since that may be a possibility, if the three-eyed crow is any indication of the show’s future doom, wouldn’t they like to at least go out with some better songs? Ke$ha is so 2009. Let’s be epic and timeless, like the earlier seasons when the characters’ integrity actually made sense and the show brought laughs, not confusion.

If you could choose a song for the opening sequence of The Simpsons, what would you pick?

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Glee Cast on TV Guide

A Glee-ful Moment in the Sun

Glee Girls in Glamour

Yesterday after a long day’s work, the subway gently rumbled up the tracks as the D train chugged into the light of evening on the Manhattan Bridge. I was on my way home to Brooklyn as a view of downtown came into view at sunset.

Crazy For You,” by Madonna began playing on my iPod as I felt a surge of happiness and honor to be a woman. The feeling surprised me. Where did it come from? Coincidentally, a week ago the show Glee reminded women everywhere to believe in themselves, and who they are as individuals, through the power of Madonna’s music.

With songs like “Express Yourself,” and “What It Feels like For a Girl,” I felt strong, I felt empowered and I felt proud that such a pop culture phenomenon could connect with young women in a feminist manner. Even the young women’s feature in Glamour this month, spoke of the power of personality and confidence, in “Glee Gets Glam.”

This week’s episode — which I later watched after that shining moment on the bridge, as the verses of Madonna’s ballad reminded me to cherish what I have — explored the issue of self-esteem among teens in a simple, but effective way.

The character Mercedes felt like she should be thin to fit in as a cheerleader. Feeling pressured to lose weight by coach Sue, Mercedes no longer appreciates her body for what it is, until ex-cheer captain Quinn, shares her insight.

By the end of the episode, the entire misfit cast sings “Beautiful” in an unorthodox pep rally where everyone joins together acknowledging their own insecurities with comradarie. Though this is far from the reality of teen life, I rejoiced in the positive message and attention to women’s issues like sexism, misogyny and (less heavy-handedly) eating disorders.

Last week’s “The Power of Madonna” episode was even better. The young men and Glee Club teacher, Mr. Shu, admitted to treating women poorly, professing their need to change. Part of that change came about when the women took a stand for who they wanted to be: strong, independent and bold about their talent.

To quote Madonna’s lyrics in “What It Feels Like For a Girl”:

“Strong inside but you don’t know it

Good little girls they never show it”

By going against what it means to be a “good little girl,” Glee showed real teens that they don’t have to conform to the standard gender stereotypes and restrictions forced upon them. Over the course of the week the Twitterverse was rocked by this feminist movement, people loved the it. I think Madonna’s music made such an impact because she lives to be unique, tenacious and unafraid to be herself.

If we could all be so brave, even for a moment, to see the bright shining star in ourselves, we could feel good about the women we are, and will be.

Take your moment and hold onto it.

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Mothering Movie Stars

HOLLYWOOD - MARCH 07:  (EDITORS NOTE: NO ONLIN...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

If you watched the Academy Awards on Sunday, you may have noticed the resounding success of women in film and the collective mothering of young actresses like Carey Mulligan and Best Picture and Director winner Katherine Bigelow, by other ladies in the industry. Yet, the most beautiful display of compassion and mama-she-power was Best Actress winner Sandra Bullocks’ acceptance speech after winning the Oscar for playing Leigh Anne Tuohy, a passionate, real-life Southern mother in The Blind Side.

In case you missed it, she accepted the award on behalf of her counterparts and in honor of  “the moms who take care of the babies and the children, wherever they come from.” She also thanked her own mother, who died of cancer in 2000, “for not letting me ride in cars with boys until I was 18.”

Bullock’s exquisite speech was a moving mix of humor and grace reminding us all of the importance of support, love and nurturing by and for women.  And I think it’s also important to mention that Bullock has held many feminist roles, with The Blind Side as the perfect example of a person who strives to promote equal rights among people.  Now, you’re probably thinking, wait a sec, she helps a disadvantage boy — not a girl — how is that a feminist role? Feminism is about creating equality among all people, not raising either gender above the other. In this case, it was about a determined woman who saw a boy who needed a family, so that’s what she provided.

This year’s Academy Awards was filled with a mix of talent whether the stars, producers and directors were men or women. Though Katherine Bigelow is only the first to win the award for Best Picture, she has now paved the way for women to be considered as equals in that category.  Despite people’s dislike of the word “feminist,” by selecting a woman who deserved the award, the Academy made a feminist decision.

If you didn’t catch it, Barabara Streisand’s role as a presenter for Best Picture was no accident. In 1991, there was much controversy over Barabara Streisand’s Oscar snub for her film The Prince of Tides.  Many thought the film should have won and that she didn’t receive an Oscar because she is a woman. I’m not an Academy insider, so I do not know the real reason why she didn’t get it, but I can say you that it’s disgraceful that Bigelow is the first woman director to win for Best Picture.

On the up side, within the film industry there seems to be a lot of comraderie among women.  From Bullock’s speech — as she individually complimented the qualities of the other nominees (including Meryl Streep‘s ability to kiss (LOL) and Carey Mulligan’s grace) — to Oprah’s phenomenal introduction of Gabourey Sidibe — feminism was alive and well-dressed in Hollywood.

Many of the nominated films featured a wide variety women characters outside of the typical gender stereotypes — some are powerful, creative and revolutionary — Julie and Julia, The Young Victoria, Coco Before Chanel, The Blind Side, Music By Prudence and the Princess and the Frog — while others are deeply affecting like Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire and An Education.  Each brought a new view of what it means to be human, to have the strength to survive despite the challenges gender creates. And, what a gift that the women in them are equally as powerful, affecting and revolutionary.

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