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, 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, Women

The Women of The Wolverine

I went to see The Wolverine last night, and was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t that I thought the film was going to be bad, I was just surprised to see that women played such a big role–and not just as a sexy villain or damsel in distress.I’ve mentioned before that women in comic book movies are kind of a mixed bag. While they’ve come a long way from just being the love interest/damsel in distress and are also the heroes or love interests with awesome careers, there’s still an element that comic book movies are meant for men.

While I’m not going to call The Wolverine a feminist film by any means, it was a nice surprise to see that women were such a major part of the story, and not just as a prize of sorts. Before reading further, here’s a quick summary of The Wolverine for those not familiar with the X-Men/Wolverinefilms as I can’t write one myself without giving too much away and pointing out differences between the comics and the movies the way my inner Comic Book Guy wants to.  If you’ve seen the film, you’re good to go.

The Wolverine has four major women: Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Mariko (Tao Okamodo), Yukio (Rila Fukushima), and Dr. Green/Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova). Now, I know there may be some people who are confused as to why I’m celebrating these choices when Jean Grey haunts Wolverine and spends her time in the film in a lacy white nightie, Mariko is a damsel in distress and gets kidnapped more than once, and Viper’s powers are sexualized (she uses her tongue a lot, I’ll leave it at that.) Again, I’m not saying that The Wolverine is a feminist film by any means, but without these women, there would be no story.  And the women put twists on the tropes.

Jean in a nightie is more than just serving as eye candy to the men in the audience–it’s a symbolic choice, as she is dead. She is at peace, and the white suggests a rebirth as she was downright evil in the last X-Men movie she appeared in. Mariko, while initially presented as a docile, innocent woman, is not a typical damsel in distress. Unlike when Rogue (a mutant with the ability to really mess people up by stealing their memories/powers, mind you) got kidnapped in the first X-Menfilm and screamed her head off while waiting for Cyclops and Wolverine to save her, Mariko fights back. She’s not afraid to stand up to Wolverine, either. She is proficient in knife throwing, and is super important to the climax of the film, which I’m not about to give away as the film just opened last weekend.

While Viper is sexy, she is not one to be messed with. She is a mutant who is immune to every poison known to man, and is responsible for infecting Wolverine, who is supposed to be an immortal quick healer, making him invincible. She is also a brilliant biochemist, not just a woman who uses sex to get what she wants. She is cold, she is uncaring and doesn’t have a change of heart at the end, which is refreshing. I was also impressed with her final fight scene, after expecting to be disappointed (again, the film just opened last weekend, I can’t give too much away!)

rsz_yhdfjsfuyohiI haven’t even touched on Yukio, who may be my new favorite character. A mutant who is able to foresee death, she is also an assassin who is very proficient with a sword. While it’s easy to dismiss her as an anime character come to life, she is not a stereotypical giggly school girl meant to annoy Wolverine–she’s a serious warrior meant to assist him, yet is not cold and heartless, she has personality, which is rare–female sidekicks either have to be stone cold bitches or goofy cartoon characters. Yukio hits the balance.  At one point in the film, she tells Wolverine that she is his bodyguard, and is also a decent part of the climax, which I loved. She’s also featured on the Russian theatrical poster (pictured, left) along with Viper–however, unlike Viper, who appears to be modeling the latest in green raincoats, Yukio is ready for a fight, not gazing adoringly at Wolverine.

While women still have a ways to go in terms of comic book movies, I feel that The Wolverine is a step in the right direction, perhaps taking a cue from the Joss Whedon directed The Avengers, where the women actually fought instead of just being eye candy princess-y types. While the audience for comic book movies will always be largely men, it’s nice to see that they’re realizing that women like comics and comic book movies too. (I’m pretty sure they included a scene of Wolverine getting a bath and haircut to appeal to women, not gonna lie.) Maybe soon, we will get that Black Widow or Wonder Woman movie!

So, LivLunatics, what’s your take on the women of The Wolverine? Are they a step in the right direction in terms of women in comic book movies?

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Celebrity

Why We Need to Chill About Jenny McCarthy

Yesterday, it was formally announced that controversial television personality Jenny McCarthy would be replacing Joy Behar on the upcoming season of The View.  The backlash against the casting choice began almost immediately–many are fearing that McCarthy will use the panel show to spread her views on not vaccinating children.

 

jenny-mccarthy-2-300There is basis to this fear–many hold McCarthy personally responsible for the decline in vaccinations and rise of diseases as she was very publicly spreading the word of a debunked report that certain vaccinations are the cause for the rise of Autism in children, as her son was diagnosed with the disorder. She has also been claiming that her son has been cured of the incurable and complex disorder thanks to a gluten free diet and chelation therapy. It’s totally justified that people that people are questioning her position on a panel show.

 

However, there are other things to consider here–firstly, who made Jenny McCarthy the voice of God? Who decided that she was the be all and end all when it comes to Autism and the various treatments some use to manage it? Second of all, The View is not known for having a concrete team of respectable journalists outside of Barbara Walters, Meredith Vieira and Lisa Ling. Departing panelist Elisabeth Hasselbeck first got national recognition as a contestant on Survivor. Joy Behar is a comedian. Whoopi Goldberg is an EGOT-winning actress. I could go on. I’m not trying to discredit their intelligence (although Sherri Shepherd admitted on air that she thought the Earth was flat,) but come on. You can’t take The View that seriously. It’s notMeet the Press or Face the Nation.

 

“But Kathleen, many people listen to her! She’s written books about pregnancy and raising children that were big sellers! By having her on The View, more children will lose their lives, oh, it’s horrible!” Okay. This is not the worst thing that has ever happened. I actually think that it may be good to have her on the panel, provide another point of (forgive the pun) view. While her argument against vaccines is ill informed, she does have a right to present it. The other panelists on The View have the right to challenge her, and bring on specialists that can refute her dangerous claims. Again, she is not the be all and end all when it comes to Autism and treatments, she is just the most vocal.

 

Honestly, I think McCarthy was just passionate about the anti vaccine thing and decided to be vocal. She honestly thought she was doing other families with Autistic children a favor, being a crusader and trying to stop a very, very complex disorder that not many seem to fully understand.  I don’t think her intentions are the worst; although she should do more research before using her status as a celebrity to bring it into the limelight. Also, I can’t stress this enough–she got her start as Playmate of the Year (1993) and was the co-host of a dating show on MTV where she would pick her nose and belch into the microphone. Again, not trying to discredit her intelligence, but let’s put things into perspective. The woman is not a doctor.

 

So what do you think? Should McCarthy not be allowed on The View, or is this just a case of Helen Lovejoy-ism?

 

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Celebrity, Women

Enough With Rape Threats.

Trigger Warning: Rape

Writer and comedian Lindy West is finding herself faced with rape threats. Why? Because she dared to call out rape culture in comedy.Last Thursday, West (below) appeared on FX’s Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell to have a debate with comic Jim Norton about censorship in comedy, with focus on rape jokes in particular, and how they contribute to rape culture. The debate has caused a great deal of controversy. West described the feedback as:

“And how did they try and prove me wrong? How did they try to demonstrate that comedy, in general, doesn’t have issues with women? By threatening to rape and kill me, telling me I’m just bitter because I’m too fat to get raped, and suggesting that the debate would have been better if it had just been Jim raping me.

This isn’t just coming from anonymous trolls. Local comics — whom I know and work with — have told me to shut the fuck up. One hopes I’ll fall down a flight of stairs. (He later apologized—to my boyfriend, not me.)”

This is rage inducing for so many reasons–West’s point was that one has to understand the situation behind a joke before they make it. When people don’t get the joke, taking it too seriously or calling the offended “too sensitive,” it contributes to a big problem. Telling someone they’re “too fat to be raped” or “it would have been better if the show was just [Norton] raping you” is unacceptable, especially when the response is to someone saying they’re uncomfortable with a very violent sexual act. The reason rape jokes are particularly sensitive as it’s so complex–the way our society handles it is women get taught “don’t get raped,” rather than teaching men “don’t rape.” (Men get raped too, and women can be rapists, yes, but the prevalent problem seems to be with men raping women.)

These responses are only proving West right–our culture is so messed up when it comes to dealing with rape culture. This isn’t a matter of whether or not she’s hypersensitive, this is a matter of a woman who is being threatened with violence simply because she didn’t agree with a man’s take on rape jokes. It happens more often and in more subtle ways than outright saying “I’m going to rape you.” On Twitter a few weeks ago, Katy Perry commented that she wasn’t a fan of Chief Keef’s song called “I Hate Being Sober.” Keef’s response?

“Dat (sic) bitch Katy Perry Can Suck Skin Off Of my Dick […] Ill (sic) Smack The Shit out her.”

Chief-Keef-Goes-Off-on-Katy-Perry

Instead of calling him out on his vulgar attitude towards her, Perry wound up apologizing to himKaty Perry apologized to Chief Keef. Not the other way around. The scary thing is, Chief Keef is only seventeen, and thinks it’s acceptable to talk to women or anyone like that. “But he’s just a kid! He doesn’t know any better, he’s just being stupid” some people may think upon reading this exchange. Yes, he is stupid, but that’s no excuse for talking like that.

West and Perry’s experiences are examples as to why we need better education about rape and rape culture. West and Perry should not be faced with threats of sexual violence for expressing distaste over an opinion/song. Perry had no reason to apologize to Chief Keef. She was the one being threatened, not him. I’m finding more and more people who think it’s okay to use rape as a verb. It’s not. It’s not just a word, it’s an act of sexual violence that our society doesn’t seem to have a real grip on for whatever reason.

What’s your take, LivLunatics? How can we teach about rape/rape culture in a way that will get people to stop making light of such an awful and complex thing? What do you think of West and Perry’s individual responses?

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Celebrity

Leave Amanda Bynes Alone. Seriously.

Amanda Bynes has been everywhere lately. Sadly, it’s not because of an upcoming film project or television series, but because of her wellness, which appears to be in decline. I am not a doctor, nor is anyone on the LivLuna team, so we cannot diagnose any medical conditions. We are also not a gossip site. We do not wish to perpetuate any negative fodder about Bynes, but we do want to talk about the unfair coverage surrounding her and current state, one that’s all too familiar for many former child stars.

 

Every day, there seems to be a new item about Bynes–getting arrested for posession, tweeting about how she wants Drake to “murder her vagina,” throwing racially charged shade at Rhianna and then deleting it, denying she was involved in a photoshoot where she’s clearly in the photos, etc. But rather than just comment on what’s happening, many blogs seem to want to snark on her, how “crazy” she is, how she needs help, trying to diagnose her, etc. I’ve seen comments from people asking these blogs to stop, and I agree with them–they’re making things worse for Bynes. I believe a lot of it seems to stem from the fact that most people were first introduced to her when she was ten years old, and are now kind of stuck thinking of her as an eternal tween/teen, where she famously delivered quotes about how happy she was to live with her parents, how she wasn’t big on partying, so on and so forth.

 

However, let’s be honest. Bynes is twenty-seven now. She’s not going to be the same as she when she was a teenager. While I agree that there is something off about her behavior, I think that if people let go of the Bynes fromWhat I Like About Youand She’s The Man, they’ll be able to see that she is a woman who is in distress and needs to be helped, not shamed and ridiculed because she grew up. She’s being held to quotes from several years ago.

 

It’s not just her, either–Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus (who brilliantly called out critics for putting her on par with far worse people on SNL a while ago) Lindsay Lohan–are all former child stars who turned into troubled adults. Can we say that fame has had an effect? Mara Wilson seems to think so–yesterday, the former child actress wrote a wonderful piece for Cracked called “7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy (An Insider’s Perspective),” recalling the time a reporter asked her what she thought about the Hugh Grant/Divine Brown scandal on the red carpet when she was seven, and finding photos of her feet on an adult foot fetish website when she was twelve.

 

While I’m not saying fame is the direct cause, it certainly doesn’t help anything. At the end of her piece, Wilson points out that some movies are starting to use CGI babies and while the technology is flawed, perhaps that will divert parents and kids from wanting to enter a business no one is ever really ready for, let alone a child. So, while Bynes would probably still have her issues whether or not she was a child star, perhaps they wouldn’t be as bad and they definitely wouldn’t be as public.

 

It’s easy to read of Bynes’ recent escapades and roll your eyes and/or comment on blogs, but it isn’t really helping anything. While it is hard to ignore a headline about someone throwing a bong out of a thirty-seven story window, don’t comment on it, don’t joke about it, just keep walking. Allow Bynes to disappear from the press, and maybe she’ll finally realize that the attention she’s receiving isn’t positive, it’s negative and not helping her in any way. Again, I’m aware it’s awkward to say “stop talking about her!” on a blog and I don’t know what her exact issue is, but enough is enough. The entertainment magazines need to stop reporting on her quotes and stop publishing rage inducing articles going into depth about her rough time.

 

Think about it this way–if this were someone you were close to being put on blast when there’s something not right with them, would you be happy knowing that others are getting a cheap thrill out of their issues splashed across a tabloid or a blog? Probably not.

 

So, should we leave Bynes alone, or do you think the negative press will push her into treatment? Or will it just fuel her behavior even further?

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