Celebrity, News

Celebrity Deaths and Decorum

Most people were saddened to read about the passing of David Bowie, who succumbed to cancer on Sunday at the age of 69. My newsfeed has been sprinkled with links to YouTube videos of Bowie’s songs, various articles and blog posts written in tribute, and posted their favorite pictures. Someone I know decided to post an article about rock stars that slept with teenagers, accompanied by a very snide and snarky comment. While I am against people of a certain age sleeping with those that have “teen” in their age, you would’ve thought this person was talking about deceased BBC presenter Jimmy Savile.

It’s a tricky subject when talking about celebrities and past transgressions–you don’t want to forgive them simply because of their status and their wealth, especially after they’ve passed. Just because someone has died (whether or not they’re a celebrity or in the public eye otherwise) does not mean that they automatically enter sainthood. However, there is something to be said about the matter of decorum in a time like this. I know that pieces like the one the snarky Facebook friend posted are going to be popping up over the next few weeks, it’s par for the course. Yesterday was not that day.

I wouldn’t call myself a Bowie fan the same way I call myself a Queen or a Jenny Lewis fan. I don’t have any Bowie albums, tee-shirts, other memorabilia, but I can sing along to a few songs and did enjoy seeing him pop up on TV and in movies. I also think it’s pretty bitchin’ that my day job plays “Let’s Dance” twice a day. But that said, when I saw that my best friend had texted me “awww David Bowie” with a crying face emoji early yesterday morning, I knew it was bad. When I googled to confirm, I was sad. Not as sad as when Davy Jones died (The Monkees were my BSB/N*Sync in 6th grade,) but still sad.

So if I’m not a big Bowie fan, why did that pithy, bitchy comment piss me off so bad? Because it’s disrespectful. It was not the right time or place to post that list, to make Bowie fans that are already feeling shitty feel even worse. I mean, again, it’s bound to happen–for every nice article about Michael Jackson after he passed, there were several that felt the need to point out his scandals in the days following his death. I remember when Whitney Houston died, a different Facebook friend posted a very tasteless joke about Houston’s demons just minutes after the story broke (and it was intentional as this person referenced her death outright.)

Perhaps it is a coping mechanism–who expected to see “David Bowie Dies at 69” all over the news and social media yesterday?–and perhaps it is to point out that amongst all the heartfelt posts that again, Bowie was human. He fucked up too. Just because he’s dead doesn’t mean he’s instantly in the running for sainthood. But that said, the man was an artist and touched a lot of people’s lives. Most of the posts I’ve read talked about how Bowie’s music helped them feel not so lost, not like such a misfit thanks to Ziggy Stardust and other projects. Others talked about their sexual awakening thanks to his role as Jared the Goblin King in Labyrinth (1986.) Others posted/quoted their favorite songs. There’s no denying that Bowie had an impact, and not just for people of a certain age. 

Or, perhaps this person is looking for attention knowing that anything else they posted was going to get lost in the Bowie shuffle. And hey, it worked–this person’s post pissed me off so much, I wrote this post. But seriously, let’s be mindful of what we post in the wake of someone’s passing. This is a situation where if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. 

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Celebrity

Meghan Trainor and Outrage Fatigue

I know I may be a bit behind, but I do have something to say surrounding the controversy behind Meghan Trainor’s “Dear Future Husband.” I just can’t. The song itself is insipid. No, I don’t like the one sided mentality Trainor has, that women are crazy and men are basically servants. But the way some people are carrying on about the song and video, you would think Trainor was singing a ditty about how women shouldn’t be allowed to vote or drive and that abortion is wrong so we should spend all our time giving birth and never saying a word about it.

Part of me thinks Trainor is such a target because many people expected her to be the voice of the average person, that because she isn’t a supermodel with a microphone like Katy Perry or Nicki Minaj (who have been made into real Barbie dolls in the past,) she should be alternative and 100% feminist. Instead, her attempt at female body positivity turned out to be all about boys and what they want, followed by a song about how all men are liars, and now a very one sided list of demands for a potential husband that’s accompanied by a video of Trainor sexily washing a kitchen floor.

Is it problematic that Trainor is considered a teen idol and spreading such a message to young girls? Yes. Is it the most sexist thing in the history of the world? No way. I think I’m more burnt out by the degree of anger people have towards the candy colored throwback, acting like it’s the biggest injustice ever committed against women. There are far more important issues than an insipid pop song that feminists should be fighting against. More and more states are making it harder to get an abortion, there’s still the matter of equal pay for equal work, and why women in the media constantly get quizzed about clothes, nails and diets while their male counterparts get to discuss whatever they’re promoting. That should be the bigger concern.

So in short, while Trainor’s song is dopey and could use a refresher as to what a healthy marriage actually entails, I really don’t think it’s the most offensive thing that has ever happened in popular culture. I don’t know if it’s me getting older or burning myself out getting so angry during my time at LivLuna where I destroyed Taylor Swift not once, but twice over her boy craziness, but I really wish people would just step back and see that you can’t have the same level of anger for everything that offends you.

I’ll put it to you this way–when I was in college, I had friends who were part of a social justice organization. I admired what they did, but didn’t always agree with them.  This prevented me from really joining them, as I was afraid that if I didn’t get angry over every single thing they got angry about, I wouldn’t be good. But when the issue of the food service workers on campus not having a contract came up during my senior year? I was all over it. And honestly, I felt better connected to the cause as I wasn’t spreading my energy to every single cause that came up alongside it. I was able to focus on the right things. Perhaps some of it is age (I notice most of the blogs having a major coronary with Trainor’s video are oriented towards younger audiences,) but I think overall, it’s learning to figure out just how angry to get over a particular subject. Aside from my winter burn out, I’ve been struggling to come up with content for this reason. What deserves my anger, and what deserves a “meh?”

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Celebrity, Personal

Leave Bobbi Kristina Brown Alone. Seriously.

It was announced today that Bobbi Kristina Brown’s family may (some sources say definitely, others say it’s a rumor) take the 21-year-old off life support on February 11th, the third anniversary of her mother’s death. Whitney Houston drowned on February 11th, 2012. Bobbi Kristina Brown was found unresponsive in a tub on January 31st, and has been in a medically induced coma ever since. Reports say that Brown had been struggling personally, with recent photos of the 21-year-old looking gaunt surfacing and reports of incoherent messages on various social media accounts.

So, naturally, instead of people offering Bobby Brown and other relatives condolences, people are criticizing the decision as to when to take Bobbi Kristina off life support. It’s “tacky,” it’s “ghoulish,” it’s “for publicity.” Are you fucking kidding me? I’m enraged right now. Yes, I know, internet commenters think they can say whatever they want, everybody has an opinion, but this is not about a poor celebrity fashion choice or calling out politicians on bad behavior. This is about someone’s life and the heartbreak a family is going through. No parent should ever have to decide when their child dies, let alone watch.

And yes, I do have a personal stake in this. Not with the Houston-Brown family, but I’ve been involved in a similar situation. Most people think that my brother died instantaneously. The truth is, it took him a full day. We got the call that my sister-in-law found my brother unresponsive in their bathroom while we were at the grocery store. We flew down to the hospital forty minutes away, where he was in the critical care unit. I’d never been more scared in my life. I knew that it was dire. Deep down, I knew he was gone. But because there was a small chance that he could recover, we held on to it. He’d gotten out of life threatening scrapes before, why couldn’t he do it again? I don’t know how my parents stayed relatively calm. I was a wreck, I didn’t even see him. I couldn’t. I physically could not gather the strength to get up out of my chair in the waiting room and go see him. We went home that night, with word that they were going to do one more test early the next morning to see if he could eventually recover.

The agreement my parents and I had was that if he was going to make it, they’d call. If he wasn’t, they’d come home and tell me to my face. Imagine my surprise when the phone rang, the number from the hospital. But it wasn’t my parents. It was the receptionist, looking for my sister in law so they could discuss what to do with his personal effects. Which meant my brother was gone. About ten minutes later, my parents came home and told me that Matty looked so at peace, how they watched him go. My sister and I both yelled at them “no parent should ever have to watch their child die!!” And they shouldn’t.

Now, that all happened in a matter of hours. Granted, my parents didn’t have to decide anything as my brother went, but they watched their child die. I still have trouble talking about it. Can you even begin to imagine what Bobbi Kristina’s family is going through? That they had to make the decision as to when to end her life? They’re watching her die. And people have the balls to talk shit? That’s really not okay. I hope that a majority of those commenters never, ever have to go through something like this. If the Houston-Browns want to pull the plug on the anniversary of Whitney’s death, let them. Remember, Bobbi Kristina was still a teenager when her mother died. Yes, her family had issues, but it’s still her family. You can’t expect a teenager, let alone anyone to know exactly how to grieve.

I can see the argument for people getting up in arms about choosing to end life support on the anniversary of Whitney Houston’s death. But that said, it’s the family’s decision. They were holding on to the idea that Bobbi Kristina could recover. That history wouldn’t repeat itself. They didn’t carefully orchestrate this to garner publicity (notice Bobby Brown has kept pretty quiet about the whole ordeal) but perhaps it’s a way for the family to help ease the grief a little. We don’t know, and we won’t know. And yes, Whitney Houston became a punchline towards the end of her life, but she was still a person. This is not easy for anyone involved.

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Celebrity, Women

Tess Munster is NOT Promoting Obesity. Shut up.

When I first heard the news that 29-year-old Tess Munster, a plus size social media queen who started the #effyourbeautystandards campaign, landed a major modeling contract, I was psyched. At 5’5″ and 260 lbs, she’s the first legit plus size model. (yeah, Calvin Klein, hate to break it to you, but size 10 is not plus sized. You can find size 10 at any store that’s not 5.7.9.)  Munster is gorgeous, and it’s refreshing to see someone closer to my body type as a mainstream model.

 

However, there are a lot of backwards minded people that take to the comments section to express outrage that Munster is “promoting obesity.” This is so frustrating on so many levels. As a woman who has spent most of her life plus sized, let me tell you–it ain’t easy. It isn’t easy for anyone, but for some reason, if you’re above a certain size, you get shit on quite a bit, even when people are trying to sing your praises. Check out this awesome comment from Sean Stephane Marin on HuffPo Canada’s piece on Munster (yeah, smart move using Facebook to comment, by the way:)

 

“So we’ve gone from the way to skinny to the Frighteningly Beyond Voluptuous.

Sorry. I’m sure she’s a perfectly nice person. But being a model is about the superficial only, and if this passes for beauty now, I weep for this society. Someone should get this woman to a gym pronto.” 

 

That’s not even the worst, check out Brea O’Keefe’s comment:

 

So glad to hear this!

Right now, only 2 out of 3 Americans are obese. We can do better. Let’s shoot for 3 out of 3 by promoting obesity even more than we do. Let’s tell everyone, “Obesity is beautiful!”.

After all, those of us who watch our weight don’t mind at all that our health insurance premiums will go up to pay for all the medical problems (diabetes, heart disease, knee and hip replacements, etc) you’ll have. ; )

 

I’m outraged. These people are ignorant and I’m so sick of the fat=instant diabetes argument. ANYONE can get type 2 diabetes, even–gasp–thin people! She is not promoting obesity. She is representing a body type that does exist. And several outlets have pointed out that she works out with a trainer. And this is promoting obesity how…?

 

The thing that really pisses me off is people think that plus sized people don’t know that they’re plus sized, and thus, have to be reminded at every  turn. I’m on the smaller end of plus size and I still get shit–I once had a customer tell me that because of my size, I was going to get type II diabetes. I raged on him and let him know that he did not have the right to talk to me like that, my health was none of his business, all while he was babbling that he was trying to help, it’s how he got type II diabetes, he was sorry. I kept my mouth shut and didn’t tell him that he was likely going to get cancer eating the heavily processed chocolate syrup he was purchasing, so why not go to the produce department and get an apple instead?

 

I think a lot of these commenters don’t realize that they’re not on Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity council and what they say is not only hurtful, but toxic. It’s annoying and it gets internalized. It’s easy to laugh off, but there’s this little voice that pops up, there must something wrong with me if people keep talking. Why am I so big? Do men only date me out of desperation? I think the people who are shitting on Tess Munster are verbalizing their own self hatred: “how dare this larger woman be prettier than me!! That’s not what society told me!! I’m ashamed that find her sexually attractive!! I’m taking my shit out on her because she’s an easy target!!” 

 

This just needs to stop. For any size, really–I’ve had friends be whispered about for having an non-existent eating disorder simply because they were thin. I once snapped at a friend trying to help me on a bad day that, because she gets stopped on the street and complimented on her beauty that she knew nothing about the difficulties of dating. Her response: “It may be easier for me to meet [guys,] but it winds up being the same in the end–they either want nothing to do with me, or to just to sleep with me.” Nobody wins. So why can’t we take Munster’s modeling contract as a victory for women of a certain size instead of a forum for obesity and health? Doesn’t it get tiring to shit on people after a while?

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Celebrity, Women

Fiona Apple’s Health is None of Our Business

On Thursday night, Fiona Apple was performing in Portland (OR) when a heckler decided that Apple’s set was the perfect time to air her thoughts on the singer’s health.

According to E! Online, it went down like this:

 

“Fiona! Get healthy! We want to see you in 10 years!” the female heckler yelled out, according to Stereogum. Apple was said to be visibly distraught and proceeded to yell back, “I am healthy! Who the f—k do you think you are? I want to get the f—k out of here. I want the house lights on so I watch you leave!” The lights reportedly did come on and the very vocal audience member threw out one more remark while exiting, saying, “I saw you 20 years ago and you were beautiful!”Apple subsequently began to cry and expressed her frustration to the crowd. She managed to collect herself enough to perform “Waltz (Better Than Fine),” but she sang it while slightly sobbing. She soon became very emotional again and, apologizing to the audience, walked off the stage, thereby bringing the show to an end.

 

 

This pisses me off for a myriad of reasons. Who does this heckler think she is? Is she a relative? Is she Apple’s doctor? Is she just trying to get attention? From any stand point, that’s just wrong. Going to a Fiona Apple show is not the same as going to say, a One Direction concert–Apple plays small venues, 1D plays arenas and stadiums, where if you scream anything, they will most likely not hear it as 20,000 other people are screaming things at the same time. Also, this was a personal attack under the guise of concern. It was not the time nor the place for this heckler to say anything to Apple.

 

Fiona Apple performing

 

 

While we have published posts that do talk about body types and health of women in the media, they were never to shame, they were written to critique the gossip blogs that were spinning these stories into national concern. This piece is written to critique the person who heckled a performer to the point of tears because she feels they don’t appear to be her definition of healthy. Yes, her appearance has changed over the years, but that’s still no reason to heckle someone when they are onstage in front of an audience. Even people commenting on the story on other blogs/social media sites share the sentiment of, “oh, that sucks, but Apple obviously has an eating disorder and/or heroin problem. She was skinny when she was in the “Criminal” video in ’97, but she had a youthful glow about her, so the heckler kind of has a point.”

 

 

What point? To call out someone’s appearance and then decide that they may or may not have a serious addiction/disorder? To make a singer/songwriter cry in the middle of her set? To shame her for being what they feel is too thin? To point out that her appearance has changed over the years?  It’s bullshit. It’s so rude, and unnecessary. Apple’s health is none of our concern as she has not chosen to disclose any details in regard to the matter. Was she endangering herself at the concert? Was she endangering her audience? No? Then this heckler is just being mean to get some attention (which sadly, she has succeeded in doing.) And also, I would like to point out that just because someone “looks” like they may have an eating disorder or drug addiction doesn’t always mean that they do.

 

So what’s your take? Was the heckler right to call out Apple, or is this just more shaming?

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Celebrity, Sex, Women

Lena Dunham Hates The Girls XXX Parody

Yesterday, it was announced that Hustler is releasing This Ain’t Girls XXX, a porn parody of the controversial HBO comedy. Lena Dunham is not thrilled. At all. Creator/star/writer/director/producer Dunham took to Twitter to explain why she wasn’t happy with Hustler:

Picture-3

 

 

It’s refreshing to see someone take a stand against something they find offensive. In this day and age, it seems like female celebrities are just expected to follow the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” way of life, especially in regard to sexuality. Rather than be offended, laugh it off! Be like the boys! Uh, no. If you’re not comfortable, there’s a reason you’re not comfortable.

 

While I’m proud of Dunham’s response (and surprised, I thought she’d be all for it, to be honest,) I can’t help but have so many mixed feelings on the subject of porn itself. It’s odd how porn has gone from trying to be on par with mainstream films (please watch Inside Deep Throat, the documentary about the controversy behind 1972’s Deep Throat, if you can. Linda Lovelace’s story is so heartbreaking and the whole hoopla was so…odd. You just have to watch it) to protested to “empowering” and now it seems to be back again.

 

Is porn itself sexist? No. The core of porn is that it’s two (and sometimes more) people engaging in sexual acts. That is not sexist. What is sexist, however, is the porn industry. I remember watching a porn clip with some of my guy friends in college, and while they were all for it, I looked at and thought–really? This is what gets you guys going? I found myself very uncomfortable with an often “faceless” penis going at a very busty young woman, who looked like she was having an orgasm just looking at a bald middle aged man. It irritated me then and it irritates me now.

 

While you do hear the stories of people from broken lives entering the business, you also seem to hear stories of people doing it just to do it. While Farrah Abraham denies that her “sex tape” was actually a porno, you have to admit that it’s kind of awesome that she took control, hiring her co-star (James Deen, who is something of a teen idol despite his profession) and using a professional studio to create the scene. Jenna Jameson made a pretty penny with making her own line of sex toys and being one of the first to start a pay site. And there is the rise of feminist porn, porn made for and by women.

 

But that doesn’t really change that porn is still problematic for many, and it’s not just about the way women are presented. Even in gay porn, there’s still issues, especially when it comes to barebacking and the question of whether or not it objectifies men–I can’t help but notice that some gay porn studios like to take risks with scenes–coaches and baseball players that look disturbingly young, for example.  And there are some scenes from certain studios that look very close to non-consensual, presenting one performer as being intoxicated and the popular jailbird and security guard scenario. That isn’t all pornography, but there seems to be a lot of it.

 

But if you indulge in porn, should you be ashamed? Isn’t shame part of the reason pornography exists, as our society is so backwards when it comes to sexuality? What’s your take on this very loaded issue, LivLunatics?

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Celebrity, Women

Let Miley Cyrus Grow Up, Please

Miley Cyrus’ performance at last night’s MTV VMA awards have people up in arms–not because the performance was bizarre, but people are shocked–SHOCKED–that a twenty-year-old former Disney star is trying to be sexy. The Parents Television Council is upset by the former Hannah Montana star’s “provocative” performance, releasing the following statement:

 

 

“MTV has once again succeeded in marketing sexually charged messages to young children using former child stars and condom commercials — while falsely rating this program as appropriate for kids as young as 14. This is unacceptable. This much is absolutely clear: MTV marketed adults-only material to children while falsely manipulating the content rating to make parents think the content was safe for their children. MTV continues to sexually exploit young women by promoting acts that incorporate ‘twerking’ in a nude-colored bikini. How is this image of former child star Miley Cyrus appropriate for 14-year-olds? How is it appropriate for children to watch Lady Gaga strip down to a bikini in the opening act? How is it appropriate for 14-year-olds to see a condom commercial and a promo for an R-rated movie during the first commercial break?”

“This content would likely not be given a forum if it were on a broadcast network,” the statement continued. “Yet MTV continues to push limits because it’s a cable network. But that does not mean MTV’s decisions have no consequences, especially for the millions of children who were targeted by MTV. We urge Congress to pass the Television Consumer Freedom Act which will give parents and consumers a real solution for future MTV VMA programs – the ability to choose and pay for cable networks that they want vs. having to pay for networks they don’t want. After MTV’s display last night, it’s time to give control back to consumers.”

 

While the PTC does have the right to be offended, they’re clearly using this performance to push their act, and to keep their name in the news. It’s not just them, either–many morning news programs were also horrified that the young adult wasn’t wearing a lot of clothes and dancing in a provocative way with Robin Thicke. But I don’t think the real problem is her performance–the problem is that people are used to seeing her in a particular way. They’re used to seeing her as Billy Ray Cyrus’ little girl who was the live action version of Jem for five years on the Disney Channel.

 

It’s kind of like with Amanda Bynes–although Cyrus isn’t showing symptoms of mental illness, people are fascinated with her scandals as they can’t get past the fact that she isn’t a tween anymore. What she’s doing isn’t really new. Many former female teen stars either have a provocative film (Disney girl Selena Gomez in Spring Breakers) magazine cover (too many to list, although Jessica “Mary Camden” Biel’s topless Gear cover shoot at age 17 comes to mind,) or performance (remember Britney Spears’ “racy” VMA performance in 2000?) to help say “I’m not a little girl anymore! Nickelodeon/Disney can’t hold me down!”

 

Cyrus is doing the same thing–the haircut, the dancing, the songs–she’s announcing that she’s no longer a child. Although she’s going about it in a not-so-great way (many are unhappy with her appropriation of black culture and her denial of it) she’s still a human being. She’s growing up. Not all of us make the right choices, but it’s a part of the growing up experience. Cyrus’ is just on blast for the world to see/hear. Come on, when you were in between being a teen and an adult, did you make the best decisions? I know I didn’t–5’3″ me tried to out drink a 6’3″ guy when I was 19 (he was cute, I wanted to impress him. I know, I know…) He got drunk off several beers. I vomited two double vodka/Red Bulls with a Jack Daniels chaser in my purse during the cab ride back to campus. Yeah, not my finest moment. But it was a growth experience, and I’m not the only person with a story like that. The performance also provides news outlets something to talk about, to help rile up parents. Cyrus isn’t the first starlet to go through this, and she certainly won’t be the last.

 

We do, however, need to slow down the talk. How about focusing less on the lack of clothes and more on how bad the actual performance was (what are her dancers wearing? Why did she need Robin Thicke and his Beetlejuice suit?) How she’s using black cultural appropriation to stay in the limelight and lashing out against her critics instead of being more aware of her privilege? About how we need to just say “Oh, her performance was weird. Let’s move on” instead of freaking out about her dance moves and wardrobe. She wants to look like an ass, let her. But don’t shame her. If people would just let her grow up, perhaps she wouldn’t have to resort to ripping off a teddy bear swimsuit thing to announce her womanhood.

 

What’s your take, LivLunatics? Is the press focusing on the wrong things? How do we let female tween stars grow up? Does the PTC have a case of Helen Lovejoy-itis?

 

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