January 11, 2011

Prevent Official Release of Kanye West’s Women-Hating Video

Originally posted by Sharon Haywood at Adios Barbie. Cross-posted with permission.

Kanye West in bed with two dead women
Kanye West in bed with two dead women

HipHopConnection.com has leaked a video teaser for the Kanye West hit song “Monster” and what we’ve seen is beyond disturbing. In just 30 seconds, viewers take in image after image of eroticized violence against women:

  • Dead women, clad in lingerie, hang by chains around their necks
  • West makes sexual moves toward dead or drugged women propped up in a bed
  • A naked dead or drugged woman lays sprawled on a sofa


Rick Ross sits in view of a dead/drugged woman & a plate of raw meat

Rick Ross sits in view of a dead/drugged woman & a plate of raw meat

If that’s not enough, a behind-the-scenes clip of the video includes a semi-naked dead woman laying spread eagled on a table in front of Rick Ross as he eats a plate of raw meat. It is likely we can expect more brutal images in the full-length video.

The victims in this video are clearly women. Only women. And the men, Kanye West, Rick Ross, and Jay-Z are far from bothered by the female corpses. They seem to enjoy being surrounded by lifeless female bodies, apparent victims of a serial killing.

The official release date of the full-length video has not yet been announced. Let’s make it clear to Universal Music Group, the controlling company of West’s record label, Roc-A-Fella Records, and MTV that the music industry’s portrayals of women’s pain, suffering, abuse, objectification, and victimization as valid forms of entertainment are not acceptable.

Dead women hang by chains

Dead women hang by chains

We call on Universal Music Group and MTV to combat violence against women by refusing to support, promote, and/or give airtime to West’s “Monster” video.

We call on you to support our efforts in preventing the official release of this disturbing and hateful video. In conjunction with Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (Australia)Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation, and Melinda Tankard Reist who brought this issue into the light, we have created a petition to block the video’s official release.

Please take a moment and sign the petition, which will be sent to Doug Morris, the CEO/Chairman of Universal Music Group  and Judy McGrath, the CEO of MTV.

And don’t forget to spread the word that our world has absolutely no room for this monstrous video.

Visit Care2 Petition Site to sign the petition.

August 21, 2010

Jennifer Aniston’s Inadvertent Lesson in Photography

As a photographer, when some of the raw images of Jennifer Aniston’s 2006 Harper’s Bazaar photo shoot emerged, I was relieved. I ended up in photography by accident when I started shooting local Los Angeles bands for fun two years ago. Since I have no extensive formal photo training and have learned mostly through experience, I feel some insecurity regarding my technical skill. Seeing how Alexi Lubomirski’s outtakes mirrored some of my own was reassurance that I am, in fact, doing everything right. A cursory glance through his portfolio reveals a body of work that is thoughtful, exploratory, and beautiful (Not surprisingly, his conceptual photography is a lot more engaging than his editorial shoots). It appears as though he has worked with Jennifer Aniston before, producing luminously gorgeous if shallow images of the actress. Indeed, sometimes simply creating an indulgently beautiful image is gratifying, a sentiment that often guides my own work.

Whether or not the outtakes are actually doctored seems to be just a petty legal argument designed to protect Hollywood’s middle school egos. When I first encountered the outtakes, they seemed like the logical by-products of any photo shoot – especially a shoot involving unpredictable natural elements such as sunlight and sand, and I could not understand the uproar they generated. I suspect that the sometimes harsh reactions originate from a total misunderstanding of photography in general, so I have attempted to recreate the settings which I imagine contributed to the Harper’s Bazaar outtakes and subsequent published image.

February 15, 2010

Body hypocrisy

Check out Jezebel and Claire Mysko’s pieces on the hypocrisy of women’s health/fitness magazines and the problem with body image role models of celebrity status. Mysko states:

Whenever an actress or pop star comes forward to talk about her struggle with an eating disorder or poor body image, I say a little prayer that she will find true health. I also hope that she’ll speak responsibly about recovery and self-acceptance. Unfortunately, I’m usually disappointed.

The fact is that getting over an eating disorder (or the murkier but more common problem of disordered eating) involves getting away from an obsession with weight, and that’s darn near impossible to do if you happen to be a celebrity–a job that requires you to go on the record about your exercise and diet “secrets” if you want to stay on the publicity train.

As the Jezebel piece notes:

The hypocrisy of women’s “health” magazines becomes fairly obvious just by looking at their covers. For example, this month’s Self magazine features one cover line, “Be Happy And Healthy At Any Size” tucked below a much larger cover line:

“3 Easy Ways To Lose Weight.”

What seems common knowledge to the cultural critic, the sociologist and the person recovering from disordered eating or an eating disorder is often less obvious to most. And one of those things is that magazines hailed as health magazines or gyms euphemistically called “fitness” or “health” (yeah, right) clubs are more about aesthetics and profit. I mentioned this in my December 2008 post:

I’ve known for years that gyms are not health clubs.  As Lester Burnham declares in American Beauty, he works out “to look good naked.”

Equinox Fitness is quite candid about it’s true aim with it’s tag line “It’s not fitness.  It’s life.”

Our culture increasingly sends contradictory and mixed messages. An ad for ice-cream you can indulge in on one page and an ad for diet pills on the next. While many celebrities are applauded for speaking frankly and candidly about their fight against a distorted body image and unrealistic expectations in the industry, their venue (magazines, television) overshadows their message with a plethora of insecurity boosting themes. Their voice is lost in the cacophony of voices whispering “you’re too fat” or “too flabby” while whispering “eat,” “indulge” (Haagen Dazs tagline “the longer lasting pleasure”) and “enjoy” in the other.

katharine_mcpheex-inset-community


February 11, 2010

Circus Freak or Canary In a Coal Mine?

There’s been lost of buzz about Heidi Montag’s overhaul (what she calls her transformation from ugly duckling to her “best me”) in the last month. Most of the press has been negative and the reactions have ranged from anger to horror.  Many women, specifically, are angry that she has “sold out” and made things “that much harder” for other women. Others are horrified by the extreme measures she has taken to achieve a warped and industry-influenced perception of beautiful. She claims her mother looked at her like a “circus freak.”

A similar thought came to mind when I saw the photographs of her newly sculpted body and face (that she had the means to purchase-hello-expensive). It’s the same reaction I get when I see pictures of Pamela Anderson. Eww. What a freak.

The platinum hair. The humongous, perfectly round orbs. The manufactured face.

But, Pamela Anderson used to the epitome of beauty to me. I cringe as I admit that. I used to fake-n-bake when I couldn’t get to the beach and smear accelerator on my crying skin (after all, it was the early 90s), I bleached my hair for years,  and wore acrylics for far too long.

I don’t think I was the only one. I know I wasn’t the only one. And I know Heidi isn’t the only one these days.

I realize Heidi is a celebrity wanna be, a media monger with scant talent. I realize that her beach work outs, wedding and, probably even this plastic surgery story, are calculated PR attempts however lame they may be.

But I have empathy for Heidi and I don’t think she’s as much of a freak show as we make her out to be. Yeah, she had 10 procedures in a  day. Yes, she almost died. But Heidi is not the only one supporting Dr. Ryan or the countless other plastic surgeons paying their bloated mortgages in swanky neighborhoods on the insecurities of wealthy women and women with mountains of debt (and men..yes, I know about the men). Shoot, I know people who have gone to Dr. Ryan for countless procedures with the desire for more.

What strikes me about Heidi Montag is that her desire for an unrealistic image of perfection has become more and more normative. Walking through parts of Los Angeles, I tend to see the same face over and over. I remember being slightly drunk at a Beverly Hills establishment some years ago and asking, “why do all these women have the same face?” In my state of intoxication it was like some bizarre carnival side show.

But it isn’t a bizarre carnival side show. It is increasingly becoming the norm. And not just in LA. Across the country. Across the globe. It’s an anthropological curiosity.

The outcries of horror and claims of freak come from the fact that she has candidly shared the gruesome, life threatening means required to achieve this notion of “beauty.” Almost innocently and surprised, she said that this is what it takes to be noticed and profitable in the industry. That’s what freakish because it is sadly true.

The fact that women (and men) *choose* (this is a point of debate) to pay to go under the knife and possibly experience complications or die in an attempt to look like a gazillion other women is ludicrous. And freaky. But that is exactly what is happening all the time to more and more women at younger and younger ages.

But most women don’t talk about the extreme measures and boat loads of money it takes to pursue this illusory beauty ideal. If more women gave honest accounts of their torturous beauty regimens we’d realize that Heidi isn’t a freak but the canary in the coal mine alerting us of dangers as more and more of our women, young and old, elect to construct and manufacture their faces and frames.


March 27, 2009

Not like anyone I know

Bonnie Fuller posted an article at the Huffington Post yesterday called, “Cougars and MILFS rule! 40 Year-Old Women are WAY hotter than 20 Year-Olds.” While I appreciate the celebration of more mature women as desirable, intelligent and beautiful beings, I was put off by the title.  Maybe it’s just me but I don’t find the term”cougar” or “MILF” flattering. Second, the article mentions women such as Sandra Bullock, Valerie Bertinelli (giving her props for her latest People Magazine cover in which she dons a bikini and shows off her 48 year-old body), Cindy Crawford and her nude cover for Allure Magazine, Julia Riberts and Nicole Kidman to name a few.

Fuller states that this is evidence that age is no longer an issue:

Need more evidence that Age has gone the way of the dinosaur? It used to be that the standard Hollywood refrain for Hollywood actresses was that there were boohoo, no good roles, for them, moan moan, over the age of 40. As for magazines: cover models used to be doomed once they hit 30.

And if an actress became a mother, it was the kiss of death, instantly zapping their sex appeal. Society was like Elvis, who couldn’t get hot and bothered for Priscilla once she gave birth to Lisa Marie.

Now here’s the new evidence: Julia Roberts mom of three, 41, is the much admired star of the new crime thriller, Duplicity. Meryl Streep, 59, and Nicole Kidman, 41, still can’t keep up with the roles they’re offered. Michelle Pfeiffer, 50, stars as the ultimate cougar courtesan in the soon-to-be released film Cheri. Courtney Cox, 44, is also starring in a new sitcom, appropriately entitled, Cougartown. Salma Hayek, 42, and Sandra Bullock, 44, just rocked on the last two covers of In Style magazine. Oh, and Calista Flockhart, 44, is to be Hollywood’s latest blushing bride after finally bringing Harrison Ford to his knees.

Call them cougars or call them MILFS, just don’t call them over. Let’s discuss Demi Moore, 2009-03-26-demiass.jpg 46, and Madonna, 50. The two Kabbalists are the envy of younger women everywhere. Demi, for her sexy, un-plastic-surgery-looking looks and devoted 15 years-younger, GORGEOUS husband, Ashton Kutcher, 31, who Twittered this shot of her over the weekend, and Madonna for her rock hard body and years younger lovers, A-Rod, 33, and Jesus Luz, 22.

Where do I start?

Well, first of all, Cindy Crawford’s sudsy nude centerfold graces Allure’s anti-aging issue in which Crawford shares her “secrets” on remaining in shape after children and reveals her anti-aging secrets as well.  Surprise! Surprise! Crawford has her own line of anti-aging product that I would imagine fetch quite a price. This reminds me of an ad campaign  Christie Brinkley did several years ago for an anti-aging moisturizer with the caption, “In don’t mind aging…as long as I don’t look like it.” Uh?  Contradiction?  Schizophrenic messages? Not to mention that fact that the caption next to her photograph says,” This is what 43 looks like.”

Uh, not really.  Um, not at all.

I don’t know a lot of 43 year-old women or for that matter 23 year-old women that look like Crawford.  I also don’t now a lot of women that have the time, money or energy to maintain her exercise regimen.  Let’s face it, Cindy Crawford is not like most of us.

Trainer.  Nutritionist. Chef. Nanny, Pilates instructor. Yoga instructor. Boot camp.  Stylist.  MONEY! Oh, and, lets add in photoshop, please.

The other women mentioned in the article don’t reflect the average woman either.  The culture has come to “accept” more mature women (if that’s what you want to call it) and, personally, I enjoy being a 30-something woman a lot more than I enjoyed being a 20-something woman.  But, I don’t feel this article focused on women that represent the average woman nor do I feel this article focused  on what truly makes a woman over 30 sexy: her intellect, her life experience, her charisma or the complexity of her character.  In keeping with the mainstream culture’s obsession with a narrow standard of physical beauty, the article spends too much time discussing the physical appearance of women that don’t actually look their age but appear much younger thanks to products and services their celebrity status can afford them

In the end, the reality is that the culture has come to “accept” women over 30 as long as they still look like they are in their 20s.

October 29, 2008

Keith calls 'em out

Socialist! Socialist! “Redistributionist-in-chief.” Celebrity.

Oh, GOP. Keith calls you out on your double-standards. Swoon.

October 1, 2008

Judge claims that Sharon Stone wanted to Botox her 8-year-old son

Filed under: Body Image,Gender,Media — Tags: , , , — Melanie @ 11:43 am

Is your child plagued with foot odor?  Choose Botox.

Read here and here.

September 10, 2008

Voting for a "Rock Star?"

Filed under: Media,Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — Melanie @ 9:27 am

Just this morning the Minneapolis-St.Paul Tribune claimed that Palin is a rock star and that liberals are worried.  What’s so striking is the fact that just weeks ago McCain launched a campaign criticizing Obama of being nothing more than a celebrity.  His campaign claimed that the country needs a leader with substance, a leader that has fought and has the “scars to prove it.” Yet, his own running mate is touted as achieving rock star status and that it should give considerable pause to Obama.  Polls claim that Obama is losing support.  What’s interesting is that most of these polls have not taken large samples in order to make these sweeping claims and/or they do not reveal what part of the country was polled or how there were polled for these survey results.

While conservative media outlets and McCain’s campaign celebrates the very thing they criticized in Obama (sound familiar?), actual rock stars have distanced themselves from the McCain/Palin ticket and have asked them to cease playing their immediately.

The official Hart website states:

“Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart have informed the McCain/Palin Campaign that Universal Music Publishing and Sony BMG have sent a cease-and-desist notice to not use one of Heart’s classic songs ‘Barracuda,’ as the congratulatory theme for Sarah Palin. The Republican campaign did not ask for permission to use the song, nor would they have been granted that permission. We have asked the Republican campaign not to use our music.”

They added:

“Sarah Palin’s views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. We ask that our song ‘Barracuda’ no longer be used to promote her image. The song ‘Barracuda’ was written in the late ’70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. (The ‘barracuda’ represented the business.) While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there’s irony in Republican strategists’ choice to make use of it there.”

Palin’s image is selling even in the face of resistance and disbelief.  Media historians claim that John F. Kennedy’s victory was assisted by the face-value that television provided in American homes across the country.  Palin’s “rock star” appeal in the face of frightening takes on social issues takes this phenomenon to new heights.