“What was I doing dating 20somethings through college and grad school? I was Lassie. I was pulling idiots out of wells and wondering why we couldn’t communicate.”—commenter noseriously on Jezebel. Love the imagery.
Great blog post by Lena Chen on why Sex & The City is not real life (a shocker, I know, but it’s amazing how attached some people seem to be to the fantasy).
…doesn’t this fashionable, unabashedly sex-loving feminist represent everything I stand for and others want to be? Not really — more like everything we should avoid. I’m sorry to say it, but I think American women have been had. Sexual liberation does not equate to promiscuity, and financial independence does not mean irresponsible consumerism. So unless the next wave of feminism champions hedonism, Sex and the City is hardly Generation Y’s answer to double standards and the glass ceiling. Simply put, Carrie is not someone to aspire to.
Rachel Hills, the associate editor of New Matilda who describes herself as a “wanker Diet Coke leftie”, has declared that she’s “not the most enthusiastic patriot around”. That’s OK provided she and her leftist colleagues do not sneer at some less educated types who like to fly the flag each Australia Day and who proudly go on about being Aussies.
Sounds fair enough to me.
PS Tumblr, it’s January 29 now. (And yes, my blog is set to the correct timezone.)
Guys reading this: one of the best things you can ask for is a girlfriend with good taste in art, books, movies, and music. It’s a sign of intellect and aesthetic discernment and what could be better than that?
Interesting. I know that musical taste is very important factor in attraction for many people, but for me I suspect it’s almost the opposite — partly because some (not all) of the music I like is intentionally girly and disposable. So it’s kind of amusing for me if my partner makes fun of the music I listen to, and for me to roll my eyes and tell them what they like ain’t so great either.
There was a time when I had great taste in music: it was called the late 1990s. Back then, I would obsessively seek out, rank and make notes on the songs I discovered each week, and compile my own version of the Hottest 100 each year. Back then, I was also a musician and songwriter, which probably explains my obsession with that particular arena.
At the time, people would remark on what great taste in music I had “for a 15-year-old”. My parents would copy my mix tapes - after years of not really being in touch with the musical world. At the time, it seemed unthinkable that anyone could ever lose touch with it, and yet…
Probably the biggest factor in my evolving tastes was my desire to loosen up a little — it’s not that I didn’t like the music I liked, but my dislike of the musical I “hated” seemed somewhat… fabricated, a way of communicating who I was (or wasn’t). In the same way, starting to listen to Top 40 music again was my way of saying that I didn’t take myself too seriously.
The other factor was “growing up”. I stopped writing songs — and obsessively seeking out new music — at around the same time I quit the band I was playing with (for reasons quite separate to ageing) and started editing the student magazine on my campus instead. The two weren’t mutually exclusive, but maybe I didn’t have enough room in my brain for both or them.
These days, I learn about new music mostly from a few trusted “tastemaker” friends (Zach, Monica, Belle, Kate), each with their own areas of interest.
Back to mister peace’s original point about partners and taste, though. When I think about the most important men in my life thus far, they did influence my tastes - even if that wasn’t always part of the initial attraction. One introduced me to a favourite band which is now one of my favourites too; another expanded my taste in films.
I wonder if I influenced their tastes at all.
I think the quality I find most attractive though isn’t a particular set of preferences, but curiosity and openness to new experiences. You don’t need to know all the best art galleries, authors or indie bands, you just need to be open to discovering them.
I’ve been thinking about butterflyeffect’s recent post about the girls who gave her crap for taking photos in a shopping centre. Erockappel made a post around a month ago about a similar incident in New York — in which an old man and woman loudly proclaimed he must be a tourist to carrying his camera around the city with him.
While there’s no question that digital cameras have turned us into a more camera-amorous society (I’ve quipped before that it’s often difficult to tell the difference between a party and a photoshoot these days), I think there’s something about photography that makes people uncomfortable — especially when it happens in unsanctioned or unexpected places. I still feel a certain awkwardness when I whip my camera out randomly on the street (it’s part of the reason I gave up on Project 365 so quickly) but I’m not half as uncomfortable as a lot of people — especially older people — are.
I think it’s because, when we take photos in unsanctioned places, without the express permission of the people or things we’re photographing, we’re capturing and reinterpreting a slice of life that doesn’t (or at least, doesn’t solely) belong to us. For an extreme example, think of the paparazzi who stalk celebrities as they undertake their most banal every day activities.
Of course, this is what artists do. Capture, interpret and recreate for their own purposes things that don’t strictly belong to them. I do it as writer — I’m doing it right now. But it does make people uncomfortable, and as it becomes something we increasingly all have to deal with, as media producers and consumers, it’s definitely worth thinking about.
That’s Australia’s version of Newsweek, for US readers.
Apparently it’s closing because the internet took away half its readers, but I suspect it also has something to do with James Packer not being willing to put up with the occasional high profile loss leader the way his father was.
It makes me sad - not just because I wrote the occasional piece for them, but because it marks the closure of one of an increasingly small handful of venues publishing intelligent current affairs journalism in the Australian market. And that’s bad for both readers and journalists.
I think there’s a ridiculous assumption among my peers that everyone wants a career and professional success. But I think that’s kind of a holier-than-thou attitude because let’s face it: “professional success” a lot of times means “financial security”. It’s about resenting easy money rather than resenting lack of ambition.
A lot of people look down on women who marry into money or kids who come from money and don’t have to work … but if you didn’t HAVE to work, would you? Or would you spend your time doing other things, whether that means traveling for leisure or channeling your energy into non-professional endeavors?
I’ll bet the answer has a lot to do with whether your “work” is something you’re passionate about or if your work is primarily for money. And if it’s the latter, then there’s no reason to write off those who already have it.
I can’t help but think that part of the reason Lena’s friends feel this way is because they’re Harvard students - and from what I can tell, Ivy Leaguers are a very particular, very highly driven breed.
Still, maybe I’m a Harvard student at heart, because I can appreciate their incomprehension. Especially in relation to what Lena points to in the first sentence of her final paragraph.
Because I’m passionate about my work (and not in that generic, job interview kind of way - words and ideas really are one of my most basic drives and excitements), I find it much easier to relate to - and respect - those who feel similarly about what they do.
To me, not desiring to work (regardless of what you get paid) speaks of not desiring to really create or change anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of Lena’s classmates feel the same.
“I was laughing when we had the debate a couple days ago…. People were asked, “What’s your biggest weakness.” So… I’m like an ordinary person, so I thought they meant, “What’s your biggest weakness.” So I said, “Well, you know, I don’t handle paper that well, you know, my desk is a mess, I need somebody to help me file stuff all the time.” So the other two, they said, “My biggest weakness is I’m just too passionate about helping poor people. I am just too impatient to bring about change in America.” You see, if I had gone last, I would have known what the game was. I could have said, “Well, you know, I like to help old ladies across the street. Sometimes they don’t want to be helped. It’s terrible.”—
Two of my favourite editors that I work with announced this week that they’re moving on to new pastures.
Sarah Oakes from Girlfriend is leaving to edit Cleo, and Charlotte Scott is leaving Russh after four years.
Sarah, as I’ve written before on this blog, has quite subversive editorial instincts (although I don’t know if she’d describe them that way) when it comes to the women’s magazine market and has (in my opinion) transformed Girlfriend into pretty much the perfect magazine for teenage girls. Plus, she’s totally lovely and came along to one of my talks at the Sydney Writers’ Festival last year.
And I’ve always loved working with Charlotte because our taste in stories is so in synch. By which I mean, every time I’ve been really excited about a story idea, she’ll commission me to do it, and once she even emailed me asking me to write a story I’d been thinking would be fun to write, but hadn’t written a pitch for.
To borrow from The Cashmere Mafia (apologies in advance for that one), I’d say both their futures are looking so bright they need shades.
I finished up my Sunday Age column this afternoon, which my housemate’s boyfriend (who shares a page with me from time to time) said would make me the whipping woman of the Monday letters page. Oh goodie.
It was a fun piece to write, because it was on such a different topic to what I normally write about. And I got to use some of my favourite words.
It will be interesting to see how people respond to it.
I feel the same way, New York magazine, although I don’t think that video really captures the show’s brilliance.
If GG fans really want to enhance their viewing experience, I suggest reading Jacob Clifton’s recaps on Television Without Pity.
A couple of choice excerpts:
It’s awesome because this is the whole dynamic: Blair instinctively knows, correctly, that she deserves to be loved, which makes it so confusing that Serena’s “it” makes everybody give her stuff instead. We came into this at a weird time, but it’s their whole relationship: trying to hold onto each other in the constant onslaught of this narrative unfairness. A friend emailed me, before this episode, like, “Why do you care about this show? Why do you care if Serena and Blair work it out?” And I was like, “Because Serena will always get the thing, and Blair will always lose the thing, and they will try to love each other anyway, and it’s riveting. Blair is going to want a thing this week, I promise, and whatever it is, she will almost get it, and then Serena will get it instead, and they will both want to die as a result. And if you’ve never been on one side of that relationship at one time, and on the other side of that relationship at another time, what have you been doing instead of having friends, because you always feel one way or the other, and you have to recognize how gross it makes you feel to be on either side of that, because it’s nobody’s fault, it’s just how it happens. There’s a totem pole, and you’re on it, and there’s always somebody above you and somebody underneath you, and you have to be kind to them both or else you’re in an uncomfortable position, and learning this is how we get ourselves under control.”
And then there’s:
Blair asks if they’ve talked about sex, because Blair is very wise about sex, because her whole life is trying to have sex with Nate without him knowing about it, so as you can see she’s all about disclosure.
Blair’s such a construction, such a performance, with her schemes and her bitches and the Psycho Baby Jane wardrobe and all of these things, that you can forget who’s in there. God knows Blair spends most of her time ignoring that girl, and trying to get rid of her forever. She’s scared, and everything keeps interrupting a thousand times, and the whole time she’s trying to say something very simple, which has very little to do with Nate, or Chuck, or any of it. And if you want to get this thing off the ground at all, now would be the time to pay attention: She’s a virgin, though she wishes she weren’t. And nobody has ever looked at her the way that Chuck is looking now, regardless of the fact that she’s been waiting to marry Nate since she was little. And on a stage with the lights and the music is a funny place to realize that really, nobody’s never looked at her and seen her, for real. That it’s the easiest thing in the world, just to dance.
Ah. He really has a knack for bringing out the subtext of the show, and makes it so much more enjoyable to watch and reflect over. I can’t recommend him enough.
Of course, there was a time when The OC was this good, too. It was called Season 1.
“We had gazillions of columns about Al Gore’s weight gain and growing a beard — I was even asked to write one for the New York Times — and I obliged because that’s all the news that’s fit to print and I like shooting my mouth off on the Op-Ed page as much as anyone. Besides women writers are only drafted for the most trivial subjects. We comment on style not substance, beards not policy, clothes and shoes and chick lit and cooking. The men get the big topics like war.”—Erica Jong goes off on a tangent on HuffPo, but a funny (and true) one.
"If Eleanor Roosevelt were alive and running, they’d talk about her big teeth and her hoity toity accent. If JFK were alive and running, they’d reveal his affair with Marilyn and slander his wife for it. If Jackie O were alive and running, they’d say she fucked Onassis — which she did — while she was married to JFK. If Plato were alive and running, they’d say he was gay—though many Greeks were bisexual and thought nothing of it."
Last Australia Day, the man sitting in front of me on the bus peed on my foot whilst singing songs about how he loved fucking and ranting about how Asians didn’t know the true meaning of the holiday.
As you might imagine, I’m not exactly a patriot.
And yet, I’ve been asked to write a column for a certain Melbourne paper about what being Australian means to my peers. I could (and will) talk about my own experiences, but I’d like to talk about people who aren’t me too.
What does being Australian mean nowdays? And who identifies with that? Do you think it’s changed with the election of a new Government last November? Is national identity even relevant anymore, or are we more international in our allegiances?
After taking a brief festive break during which he completed his move to Canberra, learned to love cricket and developed a mild man-crush on Hugh Jackman, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, flew back to the national capital last night in readiness for the first official working week of Kevin08.
At this level in public life, the distinction between holidays and work can be difficult to spot.
Thus, Mr Rudd’s last day of holidays yesterday was spent not as an ordinary person might spend such a day (lying about morosely wondering if there is anything clean to wear to work), but as Kevin Rudd would spend it - flying to Brisbane for a bracing discussion of economic policy with the Treasury secretary, Ken Henry, and the Treasurer, Wayne Swan.
This is all part and parcel of what government press secretaries, with the manic perkiness of the already overworked, have described as a “working break”.
And at the end of this week cabinet ministers will experience a further workplace innovation: the “working weekend”.
What the? Since when? Everyone knows hot chicks and men with power and/or money go together like milk and tea. Men are in it for the sex, not the mental stimulation. They get enough of that in their jobs, obviously.
Actually, I’m with Givhan on this one. If I think about the wives of political leaders that I’m familiar with, most of them are married to “bookish debate-team captain” type women - whether dweeby or glamorous. Think Elizabeth Edwards, Therese Rein, Cherie Blair, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Terese Heinz. Janette Howard was hardly a supermodel (although, plainly, neither was her husband). Men might be “in it for the sex” (and I think most of them are in it for more than that), but there’s no reason why you can’t get sex from a smart woman - or, indeed, why a smart woman can’t also be hot.
The [American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls’] report is short on numbers, but it’s easy to be persuaded that 8-year-olds are dressing more like tweens, tweens more like teens, and teens more like 20-somethings. Which means—what, exactly? Kids ape their older peers, and they’ve never had more access to images of underdressed, clean-shaven celebutants. A sixth-grader in a short skirt could be gesturing toward sexual availability.
Or she could be seeking acceptance within a social group, signaling mastery over a shared culture. Are girls dressing for men, or for each other? It’s not a question the APA bothers to address. The authors present the thong crisis beside a litany of pathologies that sexualization might conceivably foster, from depression to addiction. The report skates seamlessly from low self-esteem to violence. Sex abuse “is an extreme form of sexualization”…
I know 13-year-olds who write on their MySpace profiles statements like “I’m the best piece of ass in this whole damn city”, but it’s much more (entirely?) about expressing their hipness, attractiveness and pop culture savvy, than claiming they’re an awesome lay.
When nearly every image you see of a cool, attractive woman is sexualised, presentations of oneself as sexual become as much about coolness and attractiveness as about sex.
The above video, posted to Jezebel today, reminded me of a story I wrote for Melbourne mag a cloth-covered button last year.
Like fashion editors, hipsters have an affection for extremes: voluminous skirts, puffy sleeves, jeans so tight that you have to lie down on your bed with a coat-hanger in the zip to pull them up. This is not, ironically, a look that suits girls with (ahem) hips, boobs, or indeed any fat on their bodies.
It takes courage to write away from the pack. Christopher Hayes explains why.
Before I post about dynamics of the race as it’s playing out here, a quick thought about the psychology of the political press . Reporting at event like this is exciting and invigorating, but it’s also terrifying. I’ve done it now a number of times at conventions and such, and in the past I was pretty much alone the entire time. I didn’t know any other reporters, so I kept to myself and tried to navigate the tangle of schedules and parking lots and hotels and event venues. It’s daunting and the whole time you think: “Am I missing something? What’s going? Oh man, I should go interview that guy in the parka with the fifteen buttons on his hat.” You fear getting lost, or missing some important piece of news, or making an ass out of yourself when you have to muster up that little burst of confidence it takes to walk up to a stranger and start asking them questions.
Of course, it’s amazing work. But I realized for the first time yesterday, that this essential terror isn’t just a byproduct of inexperience. It never goes away . Veteran reporters are just as panicked about getting lost or missing something, just as confused about who to talk to. This why reporters move in packs. It’s like the first week of freshman orientation, when you hopped around to parties in groups of three dozen, because no one wanted to miss something or knew where anything was.
I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read of Hayes’s US election coverage thus far.
I don’t think dating ever was particularly glamorous in Sex & The City. The show was a comedy, and the characters landed themselves in all sorts of horrible and humiliating situations.
The part of the show that was portrayed as glamorous, as others have suggested, was the clothes, the parties and the cocktails.
And the reason it’s become uncool to like the show now is because so many people forgot that it was supposed to be satire and started trying to emulate the characters in the most painfully shallow and vapid of ways.
The digital era, the future with no privacy, will make political campaigning almost impossible for future generations. And the ensuing mud-slinging will turn the match-ups into an even more repulsive Jerry Springer-fest than they are now, culminating in a culture that either only pays attention out of sick and morbid curiosity or doesn’t pay attention at all. The future looks even more cynical.
Oh, well. Back to your social networking, future leaders of the world.
NOTE TO SELF: Save this blog entry as a time-capsule kind of thing. If this doesn’t turn out to be the case in the next couple decades, I’ll eat my shoe.
Interesting - if apocalyptic - analysis. I wrote about this same phenomenon (with rather fewer words up my sleeve) for The Age during the Australian election campaign.
I think what a lot of people are banking on right now is that the act of (almost) everyone exposing their lives online will eventually dilute the possible negative implications of what they’ve exposed. But as Mister Peace quite rightly points out, that might not be the case.