One Nation, Under Celebrity

A few years ago, when Tina Fey was still on Weekend Update, she did a story about how the education secretary was doing a study on why girls weren’t pursuing careers in math and science. Tina Fey responded with, “Why?” she stood up and continued, “When you got an ass like this you don’t hide it in a lab.”

Now, it’s a joke…and a damn funny one…but when I saw it as a gif on tumblr, I realized how true it is. Where most countries and cultures value succeeding in business and academia…America seems to value succeeding in being vapid.

We don’t care that we’re last among developed countries for education and healthcare, or that most high school students can’t located a foreign country on a map. As long as they look good and can tell you the full name of the newest Kardashian baby….they’re on the right path.

Our government shut down. The House Republican’s held us hostage because of their temper tantrum over ‘Obamacare’ and so 19,000 kids couldn’t go to head start, NASA can’t tell us if an asteroid is headed toward Earth, but their six figure salaries are getting paid and do you know what was trending on Twitter while this was going on? I’ll tell you because social media is my day job:
Congress
New York
#governmentshutdown
#SoundCloud
#music
#momtexts
Chicago
#shutdown
Netflix
Target

I scrolled 3 hours back under the #governementshutdown hashtag and didn’t find a single non news corporation tweet. People just aren’t talking about it. #Obamacare hashtag is snarky jokes mostly by second-rate celebs. Why isn’t there a real conversation on this? This is serious. When Australia had a government shut down the Queen fired parliament. We make jokes?

Why don’t we value information? Why do we buy into this b.s? Why don’t we call these assholes on their lies and manipulations? Why don’t we stand up and say, “You are not making another dime until you put on your big boy pants and fix this mess”? Why? Oh, I know…because Kim Kardashian went out in a really ugly dress and we need to discuss that.



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Why “Dear Abby” Mattered to Feminism

photo of dear abby picturess
The year is 1956 (if you’re of my generation, think Marty McFly showing up in a world where Diet Pepsi doesn’t exist, his puffy ’80s belt brings on life preserver votes, and female high school students get all dressed up to go to school).

A 37-year-old woman named Pauline (Friedman) Phillips convinced the San Francisco Chronicle to give her a chance as an advice columnist as she was underwhelmed with the status quo, and Abigail Van Buren, better known as “Dear Abby” for the past fifty years, was born. Phillips, whose sister Esther wrote as the other queen of advice Ann Landers, died January 16th after a longtime battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

The fact that neither Dear Abby nor Ann Landers have been a day-to-day part of life for people born after about 1980 or so does not take away their significance … nor their place as feminist icons.

In how many places, after all, can you see the transgression of feminism as seen through the minds and souls and acceptance levels slide ever further along the line? Through reading Dear Abby’s answers to questions about divorce, parenting, abuse, mother-in-laws, and proper etiquette, a reader looking with a feminist lens can actually see the zone of proximal development vis a vis feminism reach dizzying heights.

It’s a history lesson that would never be taught in schools.

Of perhaps even greater value, though, are the conversations that happened as a result of Dear Abby, the willingness to bring forward issues of increasing complexity faced by women and men alike that nobody would talk about.

There was a time when bringing up things like domestic abuse or sexual harassment at the workplace or rape or suspected pedophilia or … well, you get the idea … was just impossible. The shame of telling someone about it, of weathering the pain and grief on your own, of feeling isolated … all of those things just dragged you down. While this secret humiliation, this fear of reprisal continues to keep many people silent for a long time even in 2013, we can thank advice columnists for cracking that door at least a little.

Dear Abby and her ilk gave a degree of recourse. Sometimes just hearing, “You are not wrong, and you are not alone” can make the difference between moving on with life and descending into darkness.

So today, I am honoring Pauline Freidman Phillips for the push she gave to feminism, and the assistance she gave to many over the years.

RIP, Dear Abby … and thank you.



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The Brant Boys Suck

I read an article about the Brant Brothers on Gawker a while back and it still haunts me. Vanity Fair profiled these pretentious, spoiled little sh*ts in September of 2012, and God I wish they hadn’t. I could’ve lived my entire life never knowing these things exist.

The sons of mogul Peter Brant Sr. and supermodel Stephanie Seymour are—I’m convinced—devils. Peter is 18 and Harry is 15 and they say things like this (quoted from the New York Times interview they did earlier in the summer of 2012):

  • “I might be gay,” he now tells Sales. “I’m both, kind of, a little bit….” “I do both, and, you know, I’m cool with everything. I don’t like to be defined. I personally don’t think that you can be. I’m undefinable.”
  • “From now on when people ask me what I ‘do’ I’m just gonna say icon,” 15-year-old Harry wrote recently on the boys’ joint Twitter feed.
  • Speaking about Suri Cruise: “And it’s all coming from her,” Harry remarks. “She’s always got some ‘do. I love her hair.” “Clearly she’s just an awesome person,” Peter agrees. “And she always has some, like, sassy frog slippers.” Harry continues, “And, like, jammies in the restaurant.” Or as Peter remembers, “Didn’t she have some ladybug boots? I was like, I need those.”

Kill me. Kill me now. This is horrible. Why? Why do I give a crap about these douchebags? I don’t, but I know about them and since I don’t like to suffer alone now you know about them. I really can’t figure out why this country is so obsessed with celebrity. They’re just people with more money and a better life than you. Are we so masochistic in this country that we have to rub our own noses in thing we don’t have? I don’t know anymore…now if you’ll excuse me I have to go prowl the Richkidsofinstagram tumblr and cry while I count 34 Dom Perignon bottles floating in an indoor pool. That’s a year’s rent.



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Keira Knightly For Equality

photo of keira knightley pictures
Keira Knightley was fourteen when we first saw her in Star Wars. We watched her grow up into a tall, lanky, beautiful teenager that stared in hits like Pirates of the Caribbean, Pride and Prejudice, and Atonement. We also watched as she was attacked for being too thin. We watched as magazines printed pictures of her in a bikini calling her anorexic, and we watched her date; we watched her drink coffee and shop in London. We watched her all the time, so it’s no wonder that at the age of twenty-two, Keira disappeared.

Keira Knightly took nine months off from being “on”. She lived in France, she read books, and she was a normal twenty-something. It was a huge change from being the kind of girl that couldn’t go to the Glastonbury festival without having to hide in a trailer to avoid paparazzi. She only took nine months off, but she came back a completely different girl.

She has always been talented; no one ever questioned her artistic integrity. She always took interesting roles and provocative stories, and rarely was she what you expected a beautiful girl to be. “I’m not really interested in the kinds of women who just take off their clothes or have a sex scene and then say something cool,” she declares. Keira likes her women to have “bite”. Now she’s taking on Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Naturally, the press is all over her. Interviews for the movie, excited for her return, wanting to know about her newly engaged life … but it was one paragraph in her interview with Vogue that caught my attention:

The feminist debate reignited earlier this year by former State Department director of policy planning Anne-Marie Slaughter, who announced that she was putting the needs of her family ahead of her own career, has obviously struck a nerve with Keira. “I’m glad that the subject is coming up again,” she says. “I remember doing interviews, and people would ask, as if it was a joke, ‘So you mean you are a feminist?’ As though feminism couldn’t be discussed unless we were making fun of it. I don’t want to deny my femininity,” she continues. “But would I want to be a stay-at-home mother? No. On the other hand, you should be allowed to …

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