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Oprah the Dog

September 21, 2010 1 comment

I have been very remiss in updating this blog. I tend to feel I can only write long and researched posts, so when my life gets busy I just don’t have the time. I have started grad school and with the stress and the change of weather, I am now sick with a head cold. I thought I would quickly share something funny today, from my sick bed without, exploring the significance for popular culture (or trying not to).

50 Cent has a miniature schnauzer named Oprah Winfrey, who recently got a twitter account.

Oprah The Dog is quickly becoming an internet sensation and has her own meme (created by 50 Cent).

Meme created by 50's PR team?

I find both twitpics hilarious and endearing, and I assume that is what he was going for. 50 Cent must be rebranding himself as a bit of an eccentric, and like Bravo and MTV possibly going after the wealthy urbanites. I promised not to over analyze this, so I will leave it at that.

All though, I think my cat, Frank Sinatra, could take Oprah!

Frank Sinatra will cut a bitch!

Categories: memes, Musings, Pop Culture

More Things to Think About

June 30, 2010 1 comment

A few days ago I questioned why the police stood by while the black bloc commited acts of vandalism. I have now seen a video that conclusivly shows that, in at least one incident, there is an undercover cop dressed as a black bloc member. Does this mean I think it was the police who commited acts of violence? No, but this video raises many questions.

One is if the police were undercover in the organization, then why could they have not done more to stop the violence?

If we are to believe the pictures shown in this video, it seems there may have been some undercover cops commiting acts of vandalism. Could this be true? And why would the police utilize such tactics?

Categories: Musings, Politics

New Baby Bieber!

Today I went on CastTV to watch some Real Housewives and on the front page they had the new Justin Bieber video featuring Sean Kingston,  “Eenie Meenie”.

The song is a take on the children’s nursery rhyme “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe”, which interestingly enough used to include the racial slur the starts with an N instead of the word “tiger”.

In this version they sing:

Eenie meenie miney mo. Catch a bad chick by her toe. If she holla (if, if, if she holla) let her go…

Apparently after the girl is kidnapped by the duo she must choose between the two, again invoking the threesome theme that is so popular right now. I feel really sorry for this girl, not only is she kidnapped, but also has to choose between a 12-year old twink and a “bull dyke” who overuses autotune.

Sean Kingston is quite the opportunist hooking up with Bieber. I haven’t heard from Sean Kingston since The Hills imbedded his song “Beautiful Girls” into my head. I remember season three of The Hills was basically an infomercial for Sean Kingston, with Lauren Conrad asking random dudes if they heard of him, Brody Jenner dancing like a douche to “Beautiful Girls” in the club, and Audrina meeting with Kingston while “working” at Interscope.

I think Bieber has to go on The Hills before it ends this season to cement himself as a pop-culture phenomenon. Even Gaga was on The Hills!  For some reason Lauren and Whitney had to dress her in a PVC suit at one of her early performances in LA.

The Weird and Wonderful World of Housewives

June 18, 2010 2 comments

Today I will address the pop culture phenomenon that is the Real Housewives franchise, which airs on the American version of the television network, Bravo (here in Canada it is called Bravo! and it does not air The Housewives). The New York Times had an interesting piece a couple of weeks ago regarding the Real Housewives franchise, and the change of direction in the original programming of Bravo in the States.

The American version of Bravo was like the current Canadian version. It used to focus on showcasing the performing arts and art-house films. NBC-Universal purchased the network in 2002 and changed the direction towards a reality based theme. They continued to pitch to the urban/rich demographic, by creating programming that people will actually watch, not just pretend to watch. Like True Blood, Bravo decided to make shows that were guilty pleasures for the educated class. The first of these guilty pleasures was Queer Eye for the Straight Guy airing in 2003. The show featured five gay “experts” on five subjects:  food, fashion, beauty, home décor and pop culture. The show was a huge success amongst Bravo’s target audience, and executives decided to create other reality based shows surrounding the five subjects on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Bravo has a specific target audience and they spend countless hours interviewing people in order to create programming specifically for them.

From the New York Times piece discussing who their audience is:

For one, there are “Wills and Graces”: the “true cosmopolitan, Upper West Side man or woman, very into food, very into fashion, also very upscale — not all gay, but we know we have a strong following among gay men,” says Tony Cardinale, a research executive at Bravo. Then there are the “P.T.A. Trendsetters,” suburban moms who are “relatively stylish and trendy,” he says. “Metrocompetitors” are “more male, young, urban social climbers who like pop culture.” And the “Newborn Grown-Ups” are “20-somethings who are fully out of college mode, buying their first couch, establishing what’s going to be their house wine.”

Bravo doesn’t cast its net any wider than that. “We only talk to those very specific groups,” says Mr. Cardinale. “We want to make sure that what we do is important to them.”

On some of the research Bravo does:

It surveys chatter on social media sites — inviting live comments during shows in what it calls the “talk bubble” — to see what audiences think. Researchers also scrutinize Bravo’s message boards and Web boards at other entertainment sites, writing reports on their themes.

“We do a lot of passive listening, lurking on the Web, interpreting the themes we see on our message boards, etcetera,” says Mr. Cardinale. “There’s more information we have now than we’ve ever had before.”

Bravo has created some great successes that appeal to their base, including Project Runway (fashion) and Top Chef ( food), Flipping Out (home decor), Shear Genius (beauty) and of course The Real Housewives (pop culture).

The Real Housewives started as many pop cultural phenomenons do, in Orange County (See Modern Conservatism and The Hills franchise). It has since branched out to numerous cities including, New York, Atlanta and New Jersey and Washington, which is currently in post-production.

My personal favourite incarnation of the Housewives is New Jersey (with Atlanta a close second). The Real Housewives of New Jersey first aired in May 2009 and had some of the highest ratings the network has seen. The New Jersey version is the perfect example of Bravo’s marketing strategy because it has basically become the reality version of The Sopranos. They have even brought in a real life mobster this season.

Bravo hit pay dirt as the series includes drama inducing characters in the form of Danielle Staub and Teresa Giudice (who are the highest paid cast members in Housewives history). There are also appearances of mob connections with Teresa’s husband “juicy Joe” working in construction, and the father-in law of the Manzo sisters, Tiny Manzo, murdered and found in the trunk of his car.

Teresa and Joe "juicy" Giudice

There is also Jacqueline’s husband who looks exactly like Jackie Aprile, and has a safe filled with guns in his basement.

Chris Laurita with his guns

Jackie Aprile from The Sopranos

A perfect example of the drama of New Jersey is the famous table flip scene, which gave us the wonderful phrase, “prostitution whore”.

You see Danielle Staub was arrested 20 years ago under her real name Beverly Merrill for kidnapping and extortion, you know the usual youthful indiscretions. She somehow got involved with the Colombian Drug Cartel and it really wasn’t her fault! Anyway, as a result of signing up for a reality show this information became public and someone (I am sure it wasn’t the producers) gave the other women a book, about the case, entitled Cop Without a Badge. In the table-flipping scene she confronts the other women for spreading the book around town (apparently she didn’t realize she was on a reality show and the book would be on TV)

Beverly Merrill AKA Danielle Staub

Bravo has ramped up the drama for the second season and has cast Danny Provenzano as Danielle’s sidekick. Provenzano was convicted of racketeering and is the nephew of Anthony Provenzano; a captain in the Genovese crime family, who was connected to the murder of Jimmy Hoffa. Danny seems to have a lot in common with Christopher from The Sopranos (Danny was apparently a “consultant” on the show) as he made a movie that seems to be a thinly veiled story of his life called, This Thing of Ours.

Here he is on Jimmy Kimmel in one of the oddest groupings of people: Kathy Griffin, Danny Provenzano and either a child or a little person playing with an etch-a-sketch

Danny has already proved to be an entertaining addition to the show as he brought Hells Angels to protect Danielle at a benefit for a baby with cancer (you know because their protection worked out so well at Altamont).

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Danielle, Danny and The Angels

He also brought Danielle to dance at a strip club that looked suspiciously like the Badda Bing.

Danielle claims she was a burlesque dancer and not a stripper when she hung around the Colombian Drug Cartel

You can say what you will about Bravo’s change of direction and the reality phenomenon. There are definitely problems with it, but I am willing to admit I find it entertaining, and as a student of pop culture I find it fascinating.

True Blood Season Three is Better Than Sex

June 15, 2010 2 comments

I have been watching True Blood since it first came out on HBO, and have even read the book series; so yes, I am sort of a big fan of the show. Alan Ball claims that True Blood is “pop corn for smart people” and I would have to agree, the show is pure entertainment but you can pretend it is somehow “high culture” because it comes from the mind of Alan Ball and is on HBO.

Last night’s season three premiere did not disappoint, as it sure brought the entertainment. Mr. Ball has clearly been reading the fanfiction on the True Blood Wiki (I have only perused it for research purposes…I swear) and not only did we get a hot sadomasochistic love scene with Eric, but we also got a hot dream sequence with Bill and Sam.

In the True Blood universe when a human drinks a vampire’s blood they have erotic dreams about the vampire. Fans showed concern that this was a ploy to show hot sex scenes between Sookie and Eric (why anyone would complain about that is beyond me) and questioned if Sam would have erotic dreams about Bill after he drank his blood. Mr. Ball answered his critics and gave us a great homoerotic fantasy. Like the homoerotic scenes of Captain Jack Harkness, I found the raw masculinity in this scene very hot!

Not that True Blood is anything like Twilight, but one thing they in common is they both have love triangles with two hot men vying for the attention of a girl next door type (well, telepath next door in Sookie’s case). I possibly think that these two stories may cause an entire generation of women to be turned on by threesomes, which I guess could be a possible post in itself or maybe my maters thesis now that I think about it. Anyway before I get off topic, my point is that most people have a favourite in the love triangle and mine is Eric. I think I will dub it “Coalition Eric” to separate us from the Twilight people.

Last night after the first fifteen minutes of the show I was concerned that Eric had not made an appearance, but like they say good things come to those who wait. The first Eric scene of season three was of him copulating with an Estonian dancer who was tied up in his dungeon. Like I said Mr. Ball has clearly been reading the fanfiction and is giving the people what they want.

Unfortunately, I cannot find a clip of the whole thing on youtube but here is a part clip.

This, I believe is going to be the hottest season yet. As I have read the books (though the TV series deviates a lot from the books) I know that Sookie is going to be hanging out with some fine gentlemen while she looks for Bill. Not only with Eric but with a gorgeous Werewolf named Alcide Herveaux (and yes I know for sure he will be in the TV series and will be played by Joe Manganiello)

Here is the trailer where we get our first glimpse of Alcide.

Now that I think of it True Blood really isn’t like popcorn it is more like chocolate …possibly better than sex.

Bra Manifesto

One thing both Oprah and I agree on is the importance of proper undergarments. This is especially true for those of us who have been blessed (or some would say cursed) by the breast fairy. Having a large bust can be problematic making it hard to shop and feel comfortable in clothes. Big-breasted women are also often either mocked or gawked at by people when we wear anything that isn’t a loose fitting sweatshirt. Why is it a problem when anyone larger than a B-cup wears a tank top? And don’t get me started on the topless double standard between men and women! This was not meant to be a rant on patriarchy, so I will get down to the topic at hand, bras.

Some may say bras are a tool of oppression (I am looking at you, Germaine Greer), but I say they are a godsend. Without proper support it honestly hurts me to move around, and it may be superficial but clothes fit better with a good bra. While doing my research on this article (ok I was reading Wikipedia) I did find a lot of information on studies that suggest that not wearing a bra for a prolonged period of time may help with decreased breast pain, but it is unclear if the women in these studies were wearing a properly fitting bra.

For me, a properly fitting bra has exponentially decreased my back paid. It seems that the standard sizes that are found in underwear stores, like La Senza do not actually fit a lot of women. Most women tend overestimate the width size of their bra and underestimate their cup size. For example, after a proper fitting, it was discovered that I am a 32 F, which is a size I have never seen in a regular underwear store.

The only setback to getting a good bra is often the price. Stores that properly fit you tend to carry top of the line bras that can cost over $100 each. This may seem like a lot but they last a very long time. The last time I purchased bras was 3 years ago and they are still wearable.

They also now have a new cleaning product called Soak. You just soak your bras every night and don’t have to rinse and this will preserve your bras.

Soak: a great and easy wash for your bras

Yesterday, I decided it was time to get a few new bras, so I went to Secrets From Your Sister located at Bathurst and Bloor for a fitting. This store is great, but most specialty bra stores that I have gone to either in Canada or in Europe have been great (people tend to me nice when there is the possibility of selling you $100 bras).

I decided on three new bras. They are not as lacy as I generally like, but the fit for each was amazing and  they are still very pretty.

Freya brand "Frankie" $113 CAD

Freya brand "Summer Demi" $123 CAD

Empereinte "Sofia" $145 CAD

All of these bras will be great with almost any outfit, and because they are so pretty I have no qualms showing them under a sleeveless top. My mindset is if my bra is so pretty it must be classy, and no one can contradict my confidence. People are going to stare no matter what when you have big breasts so my sisters walk tall and proud in your tanks with a pretty bra, and feel FABULOUS!

Miss Arab USA

I had trouble sleeping tonight so I thought I would watch something on our trusty DVR. My mother has a penchant for beauty pageants and recorded Miss USA. I had read this morning in the paper that this particular pageant was historic as the first Arab-American, Rima Fakih had won. Apparently indicating some sort of sea change for beauty pageants in America.

It should be noted even though all the news agencies are saying she is the first Arab-American winner according to my friend Wikipedia, Julie Hayek who won in 1983, was also of Lebanese descent (same as Rima). I also found out that Julie Hayek was on my favourite show of all time Twin Peaks so shame on you news agencies for forgetting her!

Julie Hayek as a model in the "Stop Ghostwood fashion show"

So was this pageant an indication of tolerance and inclusion? One word, NO.

Rima Fakih is breathtakingly beautiful and from the very limited talking in the pageant she seemed pretty smart. I liked that she advocated for insurance covering birth control because as she said “it is just like every other medication” (BTW isn’t it crazy that in the US that is even a debate?). While I commend Rima Fakih for seeming to be an intelligent and interesting person, her win does not shift anything in the dominant culture of the US.

Rima getting her crown.

Miss USA is probably one of the worst beauty franchises out there as it relies purely on looks (they do not have a scholarship or have a talent competition) and the creepy Donald Trump owns it.

The franchise is also not known for having the smartest contestants

One of the first segments in the show was swimsuit. The swimsuit is actually the reason Miss USA was created because early feminist Yolande Betbeze refused to pose in a swimsuit after she won Miss America in 1950 (she was pivotal in moving Miss America to focus more on intellect and leadership skills rather than simply beauty). Catalina Swimsuit Company withdrew their sponsorship from Miss America and created Miss USA to show off their swimsuits without needing to worry about women competing solely for scholarships or talent.

The viewers were told to pay close attention to this part as it “is live TV and mishaps happen”. All of the women pretty much looked the same, as they were all extremely skinny with suspiciously large breasts. Spray tan was very prevalent making it next to impossible to detect difference in ethnicity (it seems there is now a new race of orange glamazons). They also all had to wear the exact same string bikini that gave a new meaning to skimpy (not that I have a problem with nudity but I feel the semi-nudity was imposed because the girls did not seem to have any choice in their attire).

Basically the rest of the show was the girls prancing around making “sexy face” to the camera.

What I got out of the show is that if you conform to the western ideals of beauty then you too can one day become Queen. All the other finalists were blonds and I honestly couldn’t tell most of the contestants apart. They were all skinny with big boobs and small noses.

Four Finalists

Even though I really don’t think Rima’s win is a cultural shift, it has been funny to watch the reactions from the right of American politics. Fox News was particularly concerned that a Muslim who likes birth control won. Their headline was “Miss Oklahoma named First Runner Up After Answering Immigration Question”. Basically Fox News is trying to create another Carrie Prejean.

This whole headline is bullshit anyway as Miss Oklahoma wasn’t even in the lead leading up to the question and answer period. While Miss Oklahoma’s answer was stupid (States rights should not allow for racial profiling unless you want to get rid of all civil rights legislation and perhaps bring back slavery) she did not lose because of the content of her answer. Rima was the clear winner in the Q&A because she was the only one who had fun with it and was by far the most personable.

Rima answering her question with my favourite part of the show, Curtis Stone

My favourite criticism of Rima came from conservative radio talk show host, Debbie Schlussel who stated: “Now, Hezbollah has the chief USA bimbo”.

Yeah racism is totally dead in the USA.