Category Archives: “Vogue” is my Bible

Fashion. And not in that “I cycle through trend-whore clothing because I have low self-esteem and need to dress like everyone else” kind of way.

Permission to be awesome? Bitch, please.

Oh. How novel. A guy telling me that I don’t need makeup, fancy clothes, or any of the accoutrement that I apparently don (my mask, if you’d like a cliche with your coffee), as the thought of braving this big, bad world without my shield of cosmetics and couture is positively petrifying, because I’m beautiful just the way I am.

Ugh. My eyes just rolled so far back in my skull, I can see the partially digested remains of breakfast colonizing in my intestine. (I had eggs, BTW.)

Here’s the deal, emo-kid with the Battlestar-Galactica background plastered behind your emo-esque doe-eyes and heavily fonted sign:

  1. Wearing makeup/awesome clothes isn’t a sign of insecurity. Because it takes balls of steel (encrusted in glitter) to have the confidence to sport magenta eye-shadow and a statement piece of your choice when you go to get your tires rotated.
  2. For a lot of women, dressing this way is our natural state. If you think chicks all want to just roam around sunny fields of wildflowers in Laura Ashley dresses, then you’ve gotten your one-size-fits-all perception of females from a misguided tampon commercial (that was obviously created by a man). Either way, you’re wanting us to appear a specific way for your enjoyment and consumption.
  3. The clincher: your telling us what we can/can’t or should/shouldn’t do, wear, and be is the exact opposite of the message you’re trying to promote, because this assumes that women only present themselves the way they do for the pleasure of the viewing male populace, which actually just demeans women as creatures incapable of making their own decisions or living lives for themselves; your telling us, via your heavily fonted sign and emo-esque doe eyes, as much is just as patronizing, if not moreso (as it’s veiled in a shroud of do-gooderness), as the male-dominated media that perpetuate a fucked-up standard of female beauty in the first place. This sign, and all of its intentions, effectively signifies the larger issue that in our hegemonic society, men decide what is and isn’t beautiful and then wield the power to dictate to women to act accordingly.

What I get almost as much as being told that I’m really, no really!, tall? That I should smile more, because it’s prettier. Vomit. Seriously, if I had a dollar for every random, stranger-danger dude who told me I should smile more, I’d be able to fund the Ph.D. in Egyptology that is my ultimate, nerdy dream-come-true. Know what? My face’s natural state is straight-mouthed. I don’t walk down the street, or meander through the market, or stroll through campus with a GD clown-smile plastered across my mien. The only women who do are on seriously mood-altering drugs. I smile when the need arises, as anything should only be done with purpose (Chanel taught me that). However, telling a woman that she needs to constantly smile in order to make the world a prettier place for the enjoyment of any man she may possibly encounter is a good way to get a good, swift kick in your balls, which, FTR, are neither made of steel, nor encrusted in glitter. Because, like the sign, it assumes that a woman’s first concern should be her perception to others, most notably to men.

Can I get an “Amen”?

When I wear what I wear, I do so because I want to and could give zero fucks about someone’s permission. Not because I’m trying to impress anyone, or look sexy-time, or lure a mate, or show the world that I’m worthy of its praise. At 15, I felt prettier during the entire summer I decided to forego shaving my legs because I felt like it (the old growth by season’s end rivaled that of a stand of southern Oregon timber) than I ever did during a modeling shoot. Because I defined what was pretty, not someone else. Will I compliment the hell out of anyone who looks fly? You bet your sweet ass (and I’ll thank anyone repaying the compliment). But I would never be so condescending or presumptively oppressive to tell them how I think they could be prettier.

It’s understood that this kid’s sign was published with good intentions, but undertand the ramifications of what you publish. Because lots of shit was promoted with only the best of intentions in mind, but I think we can all agree that maybe the Inquisition wasn’t the best plan of action.

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Bachelorette Party. FTL.

It’s the time-honored, hallowed tradition to which every woman, standing at the precipice of her sojourn into marriage, must dutifully adhere: when close confidantes, friends to whom she has poured out her soul over the years in secrets, and wishes, and dreams, gather to congratulate and celebrate in her happiness as she begins this newest chapter in her life; when the giving of meaningful gifts, carefully chosen for the importance they symbolize over the course of an entire friendship, conveys a sense of inherent sisterhood; when wishes for ultimate prosperity are bestowed, celebrating the amazingness that is two people pledging their lives to one another.

It’s the repeated pounding of Washington Apples from shot glasses emblazoned with cartoon penises while a sweaty, thong-bedecked stripper wags his wang in the makeup-smeared face of the hammered bride-to-be?

I think I missed a memo.

(Class started this week, and I need to get back into semester-paper and conference-paper writing mode. Extra points for correctly identifying the [long-winded] thesis in the opening abstract.)

Why Bachelorette Parties Suck, by Kara McManus

As an attendee of upwards of twelve bachelorette parties, I can say, quite candidly, that bachelorette parties are lame. Through careful (observational) research, testimonial evidence, and a lot of really non-objective personal bias, I will explain, in this small thesis, why bachelorette parties are an antiquated practice that undermine the foundation of the impending marriage. Because the traditional practices exhibited at bachelorette parties are sexist and unoriginal, and because bachelorette parties have been celebrated in our hegemonic culture to the point that one feels one must throw one in order to have the “total” marriage experience, women are expected by their peers to engage in this potentially incredibly detrimental activity, thus perpetuating the practice and leading women to falsely believe that they are, in fact, fun.

The concept of the bachelorette party was birthed out of that of the bachelor party (FTR, I’m not a huge fan of throwing an -ette on the back of a word and calling it samesies feminism, as it insinuates that this altered version of the original is acceptable because it is smaller, daintier, and more feminine, which is lame in a “separate, yet equal” paradigm of thinking [don't anyone ever buy me a dinette set]). In the same vein that the traditional dinner given to the groom by his groomsmen that was the original intent of a “bachelor party” has morphed into getting shit-wrecked and heading down to the local strip joint in order for Kandi Starr to shove her silicone-enhanced tits into your face, the bachelorette party has devolved from what was supposed to be the feminist equivalent to the male version into a chance for chicks to wear the sluttiest clothing possible, get gassed, dance on tables, and (the coup de grace) watch a dude take his pants off for money. So in order for women to have the equal right to have a party before they get hitched, women have to equally engage in equally unattractive behavior? Still waiting to see how this is a boon for feminism. Still waiting. Still… waiting…

Usually, this unattractive behavior occurs because we are a society still obsessed with (and repressed about) sex. Until we stop living under the pretense that people are virgins until their wedding night (as people are getting married later in life, the sexual revolution kind of helped with the upending of that antiquated concept of virginity being a male-owen commodity [by the father, then passed to the groom], and, save the kids on the God Squad who get married at 18 because they really love Christ [and really want to get it on], people have realistically realized that you need to see what you’re getting before you sign the lawfully binding contract, as the blind canoeing the blind on a wedding night can lead to some unforseen surprises [but does it get any bigger?]), we, as a society, will be subjected to watching women go out on their bachelorette party nights festooned in pageant sashes, cardboard-and-rhinestone tiaras, cascading veils, and an assortment of plastic accoutrement (straws, jewelry, and light-up garters) all covered in the likeness of a damn penis. (Note: there is an entire industry dedicated to this, on top of the “wedding industry.” Red flag, people.)

Now, just from fashion’s point of view, this is horrendous; I’m not going to ruin the outfit I’ve carefully selected to enhance my flyness by sticking multiple buttons that emit sonar while flashing lights like a Japanese cartoon all over my couture, especially when said buttons are blasted with a caricature of a veiny dick. Please. But secondly, reveling in all of this dick-dom only preserves this notion in our society that sex should remain taboo, as these women are only being open about it during a patently uncharacteristic, singular moment in their lives, on an unrealistic night of debauchery, mayhem, and veritable rebellion against the accepted standard of feminine comportment. (And thirdly: come on. You’re not a virgin. The jig is up.)

As though the wang theme that runs at a constant throughout the night isn’t enough, usually a bachelorette party involves a male stipper. Hooray. So on top of being forced to wear some plastic jewelry (probably created in a Burmese sweatshop by a five-year-old for pennies) that, save for the giant dick charms dangling from them, looks oddly reminiscent of little-girl dress-up accessories, I now have to observe as Razor, the unnaturally shaved second-string wrestler from the local community college, lubes himself up in baby oil and gyrates around the bachelorette with some seriously sub-par Patrick Swayze moves? Awesome. A) don’t do Patrick’s memory wrong like that. And B) severely unattractive. I don’t even think I’d find David Beckham in a thong attractive (although if I found David Beckham in a thong somewhere, all bets are off, amirite ladies?!?!!1!!). The only women who find male strippers attractive are either post-menopausal and think that Steve Guttenberg will forever be the standard of hotness or not-out lesbians who are trying to front heterosexuality for whatever reason.

Speaking of strippers, how is this idea of “living it up” with your friends on your “one last night of freedom” before succumbing to “the old ball and chain” until one of you dies a healthy manner in which to enter one’s marriage? Now, I’m Miss Monogamy, and I always have been. But regardless of how two people got to the marriage point in their relationship, unless you’ve got some freaky secret contract a’brewin’ between the two of you, marriage is supposed to be off-limits to anyone else’s grubby little paws. I understand partying to celebrate happy tidings, but paying for someone who isn’t your intended get booty-ass nekkid for your specific entertainment seems like a super-sketch way of translating that maybe you aren’t really ready for marriage.

Surely though, it’s allowed because it’s tradition! Tradition, at one point or another in history, also stated that a man could legally beat his wife as long as the switch he used was no bigger than his thumb and that adultery was a sin punishable by death. Whoops. I’m not a huge fan. So while I love you and I’m grateful that you invited me to the party, please don’t jump up my ass if I don’t want to drink my cocktail through a plastic penis straw. The idea that I’m giving it a blow-job for everyone in the bar to see is crass, and, let’s be honest, there’s probably enough BPA in the plastic to put a date-rapist to shame.

***

So ladies, enjoy the moment. Do what you will. Live in the now. Just know that photos live on the Interwebz forever, and you’re just a camera phone away from explaining to your parents and future in-laws, whom you so stupidly friended on Facebook, why a picture of you with your skirt hiked up over your ears while taking a blowjob shot out of a male stranger’s crotch exists in cyberspace.

FTR, my idea of a fabulous bachelorette party includes cocktails at high noon in couture with my amazing girlfriends and never referring to myself as a bachelorette in the first place.

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Beyonce’s “Run the World” undermines women really running the world. Fail.

So I did this before when GagaLoo’s “Bad Romance” came out, and I had such a good time, I thought I’d take a stab at it again. Also, I’m heading back to grad school in the fall, and this quivering, gray mass of wrinkled matter I call a brain needs a thorough dusting before I subject it to a constant flux of critical thinking. May as well use pop culture as a baby step. Rico is so happy.

Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” dropped this week, and people everywhere took a collective shat over it. Don’t get me wrong: I think God Him/Herself may have literally touched Beyonce’s vocal chords when she slipped-and-slid out of the birth canal, because no one can deny that the girl has a golden set of pipes. And I’m a fan. “Single Ladies” was bomb, I think she and Jay are so adorable that they make kittens cry, and “Jumpin’ Jumpin’” is a regular on my getting-ready-to-go-out/exploit-inferiority-complexes playlist.

But I can’t really get behind a video in which the subjects (Beyonce and her dance crew) dance provocatively, seductively, stripper-y in front of a male audience when the lyrics are stating that we, women, run the world. Let’s hug it out.

0:17 – Beyonce, enveloped in white couture amidst a sea of despair-ridden earth tones, rides her wild stallion into this post-apocalyptic world. The black Shire breed of horse, a symbol of power and strength, rears in front of the setting sun. A new leader has emerged.

0:27-0:28 – brief snippets of women wearing bikini-lite clothing, sporting indisputable sexy-face. One emerges, like a horny zombie, from a roughly hewn cage, with a giant pelvic thrust and rampant mugging, while another lies crucified upon an actual cross. Women have been persecuted. Women will no longer be kept down. Women will rule… in lingerie?

0:52 – Extreme B, the leader of this pack of females who purports itself to represent the women of the world, steps out to face a horde of men (in assumedly the same situation, although fully clothed in street attire) in stiletto booties, hot pants, a fur bolero, and a chest plate/collar. Begin dance sequence/epileptic seizing. This is totes how Cormac McCarthy envisioned battling for supremacy after the apocalypse too, amirite?! Physical prowess, coordination, gracefulness can only be peacocked when scantily clad. And only by one. Because behind her, although moving in unison, sits her posse. Wearing garter belts, corsets, and bras. You won’t survive Armageddon if you aren’t pretty.

1:46 – in a move usually only attributed to strippers, insurance companies, and the MVPs of gold-diggers, Beyonce uses her enticing assets to slither a man’s wallet out of his breast pocket and thieve his money. Because a woman can’t make money on her own, using, y’know, her brain. She then drops to the ground and crawls toward the camera from between a man’s legs. A woman’s worth is measured by her sexuality and her ability to be conniving. Women are untrustworthy. Women deserve to be underfoot and lodged within the male gaze.

2:35-3:12 – a whoooole lot of sexy dancing, including copious amounts of sexy-face, sexy booty-pops, and sexy-foot twitches. In lingerie. On their backs, gazing toward the camera with that dead-behind-the-eyes look normally ascribed to overworked porn stars. Again, crawling through the dirt. Because that’s how you run the world. That’s the only way you can run the world. Are you listening, Hillary?!

3:13-3:29Boy you know you love it that we’re / Smart enough to make these millions / Strong enough to bear these children / Then get back to bi-ness. Sung as Beyonce writhes through the dust and grime in a cut-out bodysuit, replete with an ass-in-the-air camera angle that would warrant the money-shot.

Honestly, the rest is just super-sexy dancing (in [now, supposedly] glamorous [though still negligible amounts of] lingerie), exaggerated hair-flipping (as long hair signifies femininity, as opposed to the androgyny of short hair), and seductive gyrations for a male audience in the foreground. It’s so effing meta.

***

It’s pretty obvious that the level of hypocrisy in this video is astounding. We women supposedly run the world, yet, if we are to watch the video (preferably with the sound off, to really get the impact of the visual oration), we learn that we can only successfully do so by harnessing our sexuality for the sake of a man. But wait! Isn’t Beyonce showing that men are incapable morons who allow themselves to be ruled by their genitalia, and that we are smarter because we use our assets to our advantage?! Um, no. Pandering to the level of immature idiocy is not how one runs the world. That’s the same notion Jessica Simpson (et al) tried to apply, telling the media that she was really a genius; she only acted dumb to get attention and money. This does not make her smart. This makes her the bane of modern feminism.

Also, this heteronormative video insinuates that the future, post-apocalyptic world will be strictly homo-free, as the hegemonic powers battling for supremacy are purely hetero. Well, isn’t that just super bitchy. Because you know only a queen could have pulled together that fierce look Beyonce sported at 1:58. Rico totes agrees. Fun fact: the ancient Amazons fought their opponents with shorn breasts and deadly arrows, not in Galliano couture that highlighted their bootylicious derrieres for the sexual gratification of those they were fighting. Different plane entirely. The modern-day amazonomachy this video represents completely undermines Beyonce’s lyrics. Not cool, Queen B.

Luce Irigiray’s challenge to phallogocentrism, in which she conceptualized that Derrida’s hypothesis (that masculinity is used to define meaning) is bunk because masculinity is the ubiquitous referent in the first place, is easily applied to this video. The women feel they have to battle in order to have a voice, and yet the way they do so is by capitulating their sexuality to those whom they oppose. And because this video is equating a woman’s sexuality with her voice, she, in turn, surrenders her voice to her adversary.  The very fact that these females battle in such an obviously (hetero)sexualized manner, catering to the fantasies of the men (who, FYI, are just standing around watching), displays that these women are, actually, just an extension of the men, created by the men, and not really taken seriously by the men. It’s like a giant sexual fantasy for the sake of the dudes.

I know that sex sells. I know that this is “just a music video.” But, come on. Social Learning Theory isn’t just something Bandura just pulled out of his ass. Visual rhetoric is powerful shit. Betta’ reck-o-nize.

Mmmkay. Ready for grad school now.

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If only they made couture in Kara-size.

The following is the first 400 words (or so) of an article I wrote for Fashion Fair PDX about the absolutely beautiful Fall/Winter 2011 couture line by Devon Yan-Berrong, entitled DEVONATION. An excerpt of the article is also appearing in the May 2011 issue of Chinatown Newspaper, and up-and-coming about downtown Portland’s scene.

As the first intoxicating notes of Puccini’s masterpiece aria “Un Bel Di, Vedremo” set to a techno backbeat floated through the air, and the hush of anticipation, not unlike the one felt while watching Cio-Cio San’s love bloom, fell upon the audience, Devon Yan-Berrong’s first model stepped through the antique, roughly hewn, wooden double doors leading from backstage onto the runway and paused to open her parasol.

And I caught my breath.

Set at Lotus Antiques & Imports in NW Portland, a warehouse space with industrial elements softened by the Chinese lanterns suspended from the rafters, hanging Japanese watercolors covering the concrete walls, and wooden furnishings serving as photo-op backdrops, Devon’s show took advantage of the surroundings, fully committing to the inspiration he drew from Madame Butterfly, the tragic opera set in turn-of-the-century Nagasaki that tells of the doomed love between an American lieutenant and his Japanese wife, Madama Butterfly.

It has been said among opera enthusiasts that the opening note of Puccini’s difficult aria can make or break a soprano’s career; if that same sentiment translates to fashion, then Devon Yan-Berrong easily set himself up for success.

The model stood for an extended moment, batting her exaggerated eyelashes from beneath her coyly tilted parasol and burgundy, slightly pillowed hat. In a beautifully tailored, silk-embroidered, traditional-Japanese-style, high-necked jacket; an ebony tulip skirt, “petals” gathered at the hips and cascading to the knees; and opaque magenta tights paired with sky-high stiletto heels, she slowly began walking down the runway. The skirt, though seemingly architecturally dense at first glance, deceivingly, softly wafted with her smallest steps. On top of everything, a black lace waist cincher wrapped around her torso, its unattached garters searching aimlessly for non-existent stockings, lending an element of taboo beauty, evocative of the inspirational opera itself. As she moved past, all eyes followed her, necks craning, notes being scribbled, mouths remaining opened. And then the next model stepped through those doors, and we were forced to choose, now, between two incredible ensembles.

I want one in Kara-size!

The entire article is on Fashion Fair PDX’s website. Also, if anyone knows if someone (Nuclear Wintour) at Vogue wants to offer me a job (that pays a whole lot, allows me press passes to every single fashion show all over the world, provides me a cush apartment in the Village, and passes along a tall, smart non-psycho with a good sense of humor and a penchant for organic farming), hook a sister up.

And with that, I’m heading out to cruise through the Mediterranean with my dad for the next three weeks. Love you, mean it, deuces!

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The Ugg Boot Vaccine. Because you deserve better. And so do my eyes.

As spring approaches – daphne blooms perfuming the chilly morning air, sun teasing us PNDubbers with its endless games of peek-a-boo behind gray behemoths of rain clouds, sounds of real birdsong waking me in the morning, as opposed to just the despair-laden caws of the winter’s black crow – I am reminded that the reason for the renewal of this season is because it is perpetually caught in a weather tug-of-war. Great for plants, trees, and livestock, but a train-wreck for fashion. Too cold for sundresses, yet too warm for gloves and 14 layers of Polarfleece, we who call the Pacific NorthWest home are like the children of divorce, supplicating Mother Nature and Father Earth to just get a friggin’ break with the rain already.

And it is at this time, when the side of the planet we inhabit slowly turns toward the benevolent face of the sun, that the preponderance for succumbing to a scathing epidemic is at an all-time high. When women want to wear dresses and skirts, but still want to keep their feet warm. When common sense and basic fashion regimen succumb to the thought of cozy toes. When Uggs emerge from under just jeans, like a pestilent virus waiting to deaden all things good about springtime.

And it is at this time that we need help. Thank God for modern science.

Do I own a pair of Uggs? Hell no. That shit is esss-pensive. Do I own a pair of knock-offs? Ya damn right. That shit is comfo’ta-bole. But do I wear them paired with a denim mini-skirt and a tube-top I purchased at Wet Seal? What about me says fashion victim?

My fake Uggs are radical. But I wear them under jeans when I go to the grocery, I wear them under my warm-ups at indoor volleyball tourneys, and I wear them under my sweats (and running tights, and socks, and sand socks) at outdoor beach volleyball tourneys (it’s cold in the PNDub, and we start playing in January). I do not wear them out as a fashion staple. Why? Because leadenly clump-clumping around like a hippo on quaaludes is offensive to my eyeballs and incredibly unattractive.

I still have nightmarish visions seared into my brain of junior and senior years of college at the University of Oregon. Although springtime blossoming in Eugene is a particularly beautiful thing to experience, it was soured by the droves of sorority girls, with their recently bleached hair and their recently (poorly) applied fake tans (dude, you’re orange and it’s Oregon. Who do you think you’re fooling? I mean, besides yourself?), pouring out of their houses like a plague of locusts at the first glimpse of sun, at the initial hint that it was okay to sport a cleavage-enhancing halter top because a single sun-ray had penetrated the cloud cover, even though it was still 45 degrees; they would “finish” their “ensembles” with denim mini-skirts, hoodies, and those GD Uggs, and it made my synapses want to explode. How is purposely making your squat little legs even shorter a good thing? Granted, fashion after Versace’s hey-day in the early ’90s hasn’t really been anything to heave one’s bosom over, but I feel as though the mid-2000s took a direct hit when Uggs were first starting to make their impact in the States.

Come on, ladies. There’s nothing wrong with a little effort. And remember, Uggcitrin does not protect against cervical cancer. Just foot-fashion cancer.

And while I don’t carry around over-sized Starbucks cups to make my hands look more petite or wear high-performance outerwear as fashion, I do wear leggings as pants. I’m 6’2″ (and a half). You find me a pair of pants that actually fits, and I’ll stop wearing leggings as pants. (But no, I really won’t.)

Fight the urge, ladies. You deserve better.

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Seasons of Love. Not Seasons of Conflict Diamonds for Straight WASPs.

It’s the holidays. Duh. People are risking life and limb to snatch the parking spot that’s four feet closer to the entrance to the mall than another, and children are wetting themselves with excitement to sit on Santa’s lap (or because they sucked their Orange Juliuses down in record speed and their little bladders can’t hold all of the saccharine-ized liquid). I’m fairly certain that there’s enough pink and silver tinsel on my friend Lizzie’s Christmas tree that you can see it from space. Ah, love it.

But what’s it all about? What’s this season, seized by Hallmark and frothed into a ginormous orgy of consumerism and delicately fallen snow upon empty park benches, supposed to be all about? Who the hell am I to tell you, correct, but I can say what it probably shouldn’t be about. Whether you subscribe to, if anything, the pagan concept of Winter Solstice (the ending of the life cycle in order to wake anew come spring), the Christian version (strategically placed on top of the Pagan one) talking about the Christ’s birth in a manger, or the Jewish notion that speaks of the miracle of the oil (or the Mel Gibson version of the Jewish tradition in which the Jews killed Jesus and the Christians get to do touchdown dances in eternity, for the win), there is a semi-constant stream that, in some way or another, relays conceptualizations of peace on earth, hunkering down with family (even if Creepy Uncle Sal will routinely get hammered and awkwardly hit on you), and honing some sort of growth in one’s self.

That sounds great, Kara, if not like you telling me what this season should be about. I know. I got ahead of myself. Here – I’ll tell you what it shouldn’t be about.

It shouldn’t be about the rampant purchasing of things, things, things, usually on borrowed credit, in order to bind it in enough paper so colorful that it would make a rainbow vomit and stuff it under the tree sagging under the weight of gaudy ornaments, fire-hazardous lights, and the bitterness you feel for having to buy your wife a bigger present than last year because she knows you fucked around on her this year and you’re both just staying together for the kids.

What brought this on? What could possibly have sucked me out of the romanticized vortex in which I was having such a lovely time, drinking coffee spiked with Bailey’s, watching Rudolph and Yukon Cornelius battle the Bumble, and decorating my apartment with ornaments that are older than I am?

Well, working in retail for six years certainly didn’t help.

But this is what brought this on.

Dear raging douche-canoes at Macy’s and the piss-stains they hired to do their advertising,

The song you chose to helm this smattering of beautiful people living a better life than the majority of Americans because they are all sporting fine jewelry from Macy’s and have health insurance is from Rent. I’m fairly certain you know that. But what you obviously don’t know is that one of the main themes of this incredibly significant contemporary musical is that a bunch of poor, wandering, yet blindly optimistic young artists, many of whom are gay, are dying of AIDS in NYC in the late 1980s and how they work through the raw pain of loss and heartbreak, knowing that each day we breathe on this planet should be considered a fucking gift (not wrapped in paper so colorful that it would make a rainbow vomit) is important for anyone to see. Granted, a lot of people think Rent isn’t all that fabulous, and everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, supposing that said opinion is educated and valid; but I’d bet your sister’s virginity that everyone who knows anything about this production could say, without a shadow of a whisper of an eyelash of a doubt, that it is definitely not about upping the bottom line of a major corporation during the holidays, especially when the last screen-shot of your commercial is that of a gorgeous, blond, straight WASP-y couple presumptuously flashing a fucking conflict diamond in front of the camera.

Sincerely,

Someone who likes to see art not raped.

My sister sent me a text about a week ago: OK, Starbucks is open Christmas Day. Do they really sell that much coffee that day? I’m bothered by this. My response: Preach.

Seasons of love, motherfucker. Seasons of effing love. FTR, this is what you should be seeing when you hear this song. And if you don’t get that tingle in your nose telling you you’re on the verge of tears when that woman hits the high-note, you might be the Grinch.

 

Missy, Emily, Justine, and Lauren: Rent will forever mean for me sitting in the off-Broadway theatre during the finale season with some of the strongest, smartest, most beautiful friends I am lucky enough to have in my life; last-minute trips to NYC; partying our faces off in nameless bars with nameless guys we’ll never see again; car-bombs; not knowing what the next two weeks, four months, one year will bring but knowing that this second is amazing; being young and aimless, wandering and knowing that wandering is a success in itself; waiting for the damn E train; and realizing that every breath I’m on this planet that I’m a lucky fucking duck.

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“Dickhead” is British for “hipster.” Douchiness, however, translates flawlessly.

I’ve always felt a bond to London, what with the fabulous high fashion, interestingly tumultuous history, and completely dark and twisty (read: awesome) legacy of Gothic literature that lends itself so nicely to my lectures on modern Comm Theory and how far our society has regressed.

Also, for some reason, I’ve noticed that every time I’ve traveled there, London has got this inherently large population of tall, hot guys. With that built-in accent, all I have to do is institute a Smile Checkpoint to gauge levels of grill jankiness, and I’m in business.

Double-bonus round!

But then? Then I found this. And living in the Hawthorne area of Portland, I’ve realized why my heart-ness for London is so profound: because London suffers as we PNDubbers do, at the hands of the blight this society has dubbed “hipsters.”

Sporting mullet-faux-hawks, jeans that are tighter-than-skin, lens-less frames, and Mighty Mouse tattoos on your neck does not make you hip, or fresh, or unique. It makes you look like every other douche-canoe strolling down Hawthorne in that completley unaffected, “I don’t conform to your society-ooh, lookit the new $30 skinny-scarf at American Apparel!” manner that only a renob hipster could embody.

These fuckers have usurped my right to love PBR out in the open.

Commiserate as we may, I totally dig how Londoners just call a spade a spade though. Eff this “hipster” label. It only encourages them. (Hey, fuck-knuckle, can you even name one song by Blondie, the band on your “vintage” tee?) From now on, my new Hawthorne hobby is dickhead-spotting. Maybe we can turn this into a legit sport too, like with extra points for point-of-dickhead-origin. (Ah, half-razored scalp-showing and dirty black Wranglers worn as skinny jeans? He just got a hair-cut at Bishop’s, and he’s on his way to the show of his roomie’s band [comprised of four synthesizers, a triangle, and too many cardigans to count] at the Hawthorne Theater. FOR THE GOLD!) Fitting that the 2012 Olympics are in London this year.

For future games of Dickhead Spotting!

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The Subtle-butt. For when you just don’t care anymore.

So there’s been this rash of completely asinine “inventions” that have recently come about, the main intent of which is to “neutralize,” “camouflage,” and bling-out bodily functions/parts, and, while I rail them incessantly for their inane fecklessness, there have to be people out there who disagree, as the portentious plaudit these contraptions receive must aid in their perpetuity. And I just don’t get it.

We’ve discussed Vajazzling. We’ve talked about Camelflage and the Backtacular Cleft Shield (euphemisms, ahoy). We’ve even pored over the goddamn Better Marriage Blanket. And now we can add one more to the list: Subtle Butt.

I smell a Cleo! (Pun totes intended.)

1. If you’re trying to be subtle, you failed with the name. You say “subtle butt,” and I think you’ve either mispronounced the Southern colloquialism for the latest gossip (scuttlebutt) or you are referring to the red-headed step-child of the Brazilian butt-lift foam-rubber ass-harness, meant to minimize the plethora of junk you have in your oh-so-spacious trunk instead of amplify it. But butts aren’t subtle. No one has ever said, “God, that intoxicating scent her ass was wearing gave off just the right hint of come-hither sex-appeal.” And if he has, he’s a damn freak.

2. Carbon patches you want me to stick into my drawers? Seriously? What happens when the builders’-grade adhesive meant to withstand the chthonic mugginess of the tropics you’ve got going on down there after a long summer’s day either wears off mid butt-blast (which must be absolutely scrofulous in itself to warrant such precautions in the first place) or, due to extra-stickiness, refuses to part from the material to which you’ve stuck it, resulting in the pulling and tearing on said fart patch (used fart patch, might I add as I vom in my mouth) that can only lead to glue-y skid marks? That’s an awkward conversation to have with your significant other in the laundry room.

3. I said this before: if your diet is so royally effed-up that your ass emissions force others in your general vicinity into a syncopal state out of which only something as potent as smelling salts will pull them, then, methinks, you need to change your damn diet. Yes, farting is natural. And yes, people find it very awkward. But, dude, your flatulations shouln’t be able to flatten a platoon.

4. This concept that instead of fixing what is broken (your diet, your colon, any common sense you may have been born with), we must truckle to the gods of late-night infomercials to bestow an ingenious solution upon us in order to make the problem go away is positively lame. I know this is just a sticker you thrust down your drawers, but there are larger issues here that people fail to identify. One is mentioned above (if you’ve ever wondered why you blast gas so hard after you’ve eaten a full meal provided to you by the nearest Chevron mini-mart, your paws still lightly dusted in the coruscating, neon-orange glow of Cheetohs powder, try reading the ingredients on the sides of the packages; if you can’t pronounce them, they are flavored additives, created in a lab somewhere, that wreak havoc on your intestine – problem solved); the other is this notion that we must hide all natural bodily functions deemed awkward by society. Dude, everybody poops. We learned about it in kindergarten. Let’s evolve.

5. These are just begging for a really bad scratch-and-sniff joke. But I digress.

Add another product to the list. I’m going to go bow my head in shame. Funny as they may be, my jeremiads never seem to work. Because people are still out there buying up padded underwear (“for that Latin look!”), bedazzling their labia, and, now, farting into stickers.

P.S. Nowhere does it say anything about muffling the sound. I’d rather kick a puppy than know you’ve just Dutch-ovened your pants into oblivion, regardless of whether or not I can smell it. Yes, I’m all about natural body functions, but at the same time, I’m all about maintaining at least a modicum of social aptitude. Get your stank ass away from me.

I think it’s common knowledge that Victoria’s Secret models don’t fart. Duh.

P.S.S. You’ve got a sticker all up in there? That’s got to be about as comfortable as hemorrhoids.

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The Snuggie and Vajazzling now have arch-enemies. Let WWIII commence.

Jeez, I am so glad someone out there is really thinking about my fashion needs. What would I possibly ever do without these marvels of modern invention that are positively redefining the way I go about my very existence? Surely, I’d be a lost soul, wandering aimlessly, ceaselessly amongst the fashion hinterlands, wondering why, why I didn’t believe in the power these gifts bestowed on this planet from the veritable hand of God sooner. Such is my Limbo. Woe is my destiny. Plagued are the rest of my soulless days.

Because I didn’t believe in the Hoodie-Footie Snuggle Suit or the Camelflage.  

A) all of the most comfortable things I own? You forgot to include the worn-in T-shirt spattered with the bloodstains of my exes and my Brazilian butt-panties. B) tell me how resembling Cindy Lou Who’s degenerate half-sister whom no one in the family really talks about anymore, sporting one of the most nauseating shades of Pepto-Bismal pink that even Dr. Suess, in his most hallucinogenic of states, couldn’t have imagined, is either “new,” “hot,” or “different.” No, g’head. I’m waiting. C) marshmallow soft? super cozy? the pajamas you had as a kid? the hug you can wear? Talk about the buzz-words of manic-depression. Like the Snuggie, this thing is the physical manifestation of the concept of enabling, only worse, as it is directed specifically at women. D) “the Hoodie-Footie moves with you!” And only you. As you will be utterly and completely alone. You will definitely keep Jack Frost away… and any other potential partner. Well, I take that back. You will have your cats. Your multiple, multiple cats that you’ve named and bestowed personality traits upon. E) Why are only tall, slender, nominally pretty white girls perpetually cold?

But wait! There’s more.

It’s the Camelflage, the revolutionary undergarment for all us “active, fashion conscious or contemporary [women]” out there, which are “specifically designed to smooth out [our] feminine parts under clothing” (emphasis mine). 

Before the Camelflage intervention…

 

After the Camelflage intervention… apparently, it also makes you lose ten pounds.

A) this is totally going to get in the way of my latest Vajazzle. B) an insert is sewn into the panty as secure protection? I didn’t know this was such an evil epidemic. Good thing I have Blackwater in my drawers. C) or, you could just wear pants that fit properly or are not the equivalent of cotton poly-knit plastic wrap? D) women have labia, and seeing them visually shouldn’t lead to the Shock and Awe that Bush couldn’t find (pun totally intended); there’s no need to shame a woman into thinking that her body shouldn’t look like a woman’s body, especially with the amount of men I see junk-jostling on a daily basis. E) the name of this product sounds not so much like something meant to counteract the dreaded camel-toe, apparent scourge of humanity and subject of my nightmares, as it does a chaffing, fungal infection suffered by the quadrupedal ungulates in Aladdin.

Thank you, fashion forces of the world. Thank you for thinking of me in my hour of need. Why, golly gee whiz, I didn’t even know I needed these sorts of things to truly reify my stance as a woman in this society! Good thing there are people out there catering to our well-being (and wallets and alarmist senses of ulcer-inducing paranoia).

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Sex, the city, Comm theory, (different) butt panties, and a friggin’ cleft shield.

I’ve always been a fan of Sex and the City. From the days of watching with Sara on our pirated cable during college, margaritas in hand as the warm breeze of early summer days wafted through the screen door of the most bitchin’ apartment ever and that beautiful music started, to the build-up around the newest film in the franchise’s opening (including Monday, when Sara and I will shake cocktails in the theater), I hold a special place in my icy, black heart for the girls.

Regardless of the flack the show always gets, I heart SATC, and I always will. The writing is incredibly smart, the actors are fantastic, and the feminism that permeates throughout cuts the stereotype of feminists goose-stepping down the street in their Doc Martens after they’ve ritually circumcised the nearest male they’ve found to the Goddess of Vaginas, Flannels, and Melissa Etheridge (all things I like, BTW, but c’mon.)

I use SATC as the opening because one of my fave profs in undergrad, who taught a lot of my Comm Studies classes, actually got a grant from the university to buy all six seasons on DVD and teach a Comm class on the franchise. I know: genius! Anyway, it was this same prof who taught me about Social Learning Theory, which, in the totally cliched, Stand-and-Deliver kind of way, comes full circle, as I totally taught the theory in class last night. Social Learning Theory posits, basically, that people can’t learn everything they need to know about life and their development as a human from direct personal experience alone; they turn to indirect sources, such as the media, to glean life’s necessary lessons. There’s more to it, obvo, but it states that people turn to the institution, whether consciously or not, when they need to glean information about their development (this is where personal responsibility comes into the picture, but people just usually opt out, because blaming the media is so much easier).

So what’s the deal-i-o? Why bring up SATC, Social Learning Theory, and all that jazz?

Because the media reflect society: they give us what we tell them we want to see. However, as a society, we fail to comprehend that the choices we make concerning the media now affect how we perceive ourselves as contributors to society later. Social Learning Theory rings true, yet we fail see the connection; not only do we fail to see the connection, but we also cannot understand how we’ve grown into the mold by which we define ourselves.

Como? Here:

1. “What do all women want?” translates into, “if you don’t want a malformed-shaped derriere, then you aren’t really a woman, because all women, if they are really women, should want this convex, unnatural curve on their asses.” 2. It leaves a “sexier, more desirable booty,” in case, y’know, your brain doesn’t quite cut it. 3. Mmmkay, the uber-gross guy leering at the woman as she walks by, looking only at her padded ass? Nothing validates my being as a sex object quite like a voyeur. 4. The epileptic limb-shaking purported to be dancing means the women are fun, young, and ready for sexiness in their padded girdles. The repetitive onomatopoeia, supposing to be a dance beat, intruding throughout kind of makes me want to gag. 5. Screw working out! Plastic surgery is too expensive! But you have to do something to get a popped-booty, because that’s what you should want. And nothing substantiates your femininity like strategically placed foam rubber.

Next? This is genius, in the evil kind of way. It’s the Backtacular Gluteal Cleft Shield, or, bedazzled ass-crack cover.

Cover that crack… with fake diamonds! Oooh, pretty!

1. Women don’t have cracks! Not at all! Women are delicate flowers, unicorns and lollipops, Madonnas and whores (only)! They don’t have things like ass-cracks! But just in case they might, we’ll cover it up… with crystals2. No, don’t stop buying jeans so low that you need every hair follicle not on your head waxxxed off just to wear them; instead, we’ll just create a product to maintain all things by which we define femininity, aka exposed flesh. 3. Somehow, shoving a kindergartener’s glorified art project of felt, glue, and faux rhinestones down the back of your pants is supposed to be less conspicuous than crack slippage. 4. Women are creatures to be elevated, adorned, and admired, and undermining this concept by possibly alluding to a crack (which leads to the notion that women might also burp, fart, or exhibit other healthy bodily functions) is forbidden. 5. You’ll love it, because it’s shiny.

Le barf.

My generation grew up in a media maelstrom. Granted we weren’t texting at age ten, but I distinctly remember sitting my bony butt on the floor with my sisters for four hours at a time on Saturday mornings to ingest cartoons and endless bowls of Fruit Loops (ah, the glory days). I definitely learned from the media. I’m a feminist, and I think a whole lot of that comes from what I took in as a kid: Jem and the Holograms, She-ra, the Golden Girls, Roz from Night Court, 227, Thundercats and Rainbow-Brite, and the Huxtables. I gave the one Barbie I had a buzz cut, surmised that Dick, of Dick and Jane fame, really was just kind of a prick, could quote Crocodile Dundee, and had a Tiffany poster on my wall.

And yet the inflate-o’-panties and the crack-cover are directed at this generation, who will, assumedly, glom onto it in the manner that it’s been taught to glom onto other media outlets since birth, as it realizes its developmental strengths from what it sees online, on TV, or on the magazine pages. This culture of hypersexualized body language, body consciousness, and advertising with one’s body is only exacerbated by inane products meant to rail a girl into a preconceived concept of what is feminine and, therefore, good.

On one hand, we’re told to do whatever we can by whatever means (padded underwear and cleft shields [really? That's the best you could do?]) to land a man and complete our mission in life to facilitate his siring of the plethora of his progeny; on the other, via SATC, we see that we can do what we wish and complete our own version of the “fairy tale.”

One can’t help learning from the media. How one learns and what one learns, though, are up entirely to the one person. And people wonder why this is such an alarming trend.

P.S. I’ll always claim SATC as feminist, and anyone who wants to argue is welcome to join me in a cage match.

Go on, girls.

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Filed under "Vogue" is my Bible, Feminism in all its glory, Infomercial Smackdown