Monday, August 29, 2011

Award Show No-Nos

I guess you could say I'm a glutton for punishment. I sat through last night's VMAs without changing the channel once.

Award shows have always captivated me: from the red carpet interviews to the judging of outfits to the spontaneous moments that can only occur on (time-delayed) live TV. But, this has got to be the absolute worst year for award show fans. First the general ehhh-ness of the Grammys, then James Franco's bizarre I'm-tired-from-working-too-many-jobs/I-smoked-up-too-much-backstage hosting of the Oscars and now the 2011 VMAs mess, which will forever be known as an awkward snoozefest.

This year, MTV decided to forgo paying someone to host the Video Music Awards. It seems the channel also forgot to pay writers to script the show. Kevin Hart's opening rant on being passed over as host was uncomfortable, the presenter banter was painful (Jonah Hill, everyone?) and the skits were confusing. I thought I could count on Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen and Jack Black to revive the night, but their Beastie Boys impression was oddly unfunny. Why oh why was there not an actual dance-off? Afraid to wake up the napping masses?

The worst offender by far was Lady Gaga. Dressed as her male alter ego, Jo Calderone, she managed to single-handedly turn the VMAs into a creepshow. I don't think anyone was confused that she was embodying a male character, but she felt the need to continually explain that she was supposed to be a guy and not "Lady" Gaga. Honestly, nothing Gaga does at this point surprises anyone. The audience could not have been less impressed by her Quasimodo-meets-West Side Story interpretation of masculinity. It was overly theatrical and in the end, just felt like she was beating a dead horse. Britney Spears was so unattracted by her behavior she couldn't bring herself to kiss Gaga during her award acceptance.

Cringe-inducing is the best term to describe what was hyped to be an epic showcase. The only good thing about the night was Adele. Her bare-bones performance not only murdered the other ones, but it exposed the other musicians as frauds who needed to hide behind laser light shows and costume gimmicks. The Amy Winehouse tribute was a nice touch, but Bruno Mars? Eww, couldn't they find anyone more fitting?

MTV as usual demonstrated its lack of interest in promoting musicians by awarding campy show boaters like Katy Perry instead of Adele. In the words of MTV's sole focus these days - the Jersey Shore - someone pulled a robbery. By the standards of this year's show - and let's face it, MTV's disinterest in music video as programming - Adele should be glad she didn't win any of the major awards.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Songs Have It Wrong: Big Girls Do Cry

I know that obesity is an epidemic in this country. I know that children aren't as active as they used to be. And I'm aware that being overweight may pose all sorts of physical and psychological threats.

Despite all that, they way to deal with these issues is not to outcast overweight members of society or call them names. That's not going for anyone good.

Following in the tradition of insensitively-titled TV programs such as Big People, Little World and Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss, TLC's rolling out a new TV show called Big Sexy. The show trails five full-figured models trying to break into the mainstream modeling world.

What does Big Sexy even mean? First of all, it's not a good title. Maybe there should be a comma in between to signify "and": Big, Sexy. That would imply that women can be big and sexy at the same time. That's more than obvious. Listen, I'm not saying that people should be applauded for being obese. But I'm not saying it's bad to be overweight either, unless you're morbidly obese and unable to function in daily life. If you're a model, that's obviously not the case. So to imply that a woman can be plus size and sexy too - that's just condescending.

Big girls, they're just the same as every other girl: maybe physically attractive to some and not to others. We don't need to call them "diva" or "mama" to make them feel better about themselves.

Why does society always equate waist size with self-esteem? I might seem like a hypocrite, given that my BMI indicates that I'm slightly overweight and that I recently celebrated my satisfaction at reducing my waist size. It's not that I feel my worth is tied up in my appearance; I just feel healthier and am proud to have accomplished a goal.

Because obesity is on the rise among the younger generation, we need to be teaching kids that while it is good to eat healthy and to get exercise, being overweight is not something to feel shamed about. That's why this new children's book, Maggie Goes on a Diet is so disturbing. Suggested for 4-8 year-olds, the book tells the story of "chubby" Maggie, a 14-year-old who gets teased at school because of her appearance. Maggie goes on a diet, loses weight and becomes popular. Cuz that's how easy it is to achieve popularity in middle school - if only!

Let's not teach kids that the only way to be accepted by their peers is to conform to a societal construct that few kids may fit these days. No matter how much you drill good habits into them, some kids are just big boned, have hormonal imbalances or just can't lose weight easily. Don't make them feel less than. Don't push them to become neurotic diet-obsessed preschoolers. Or worse yet, start on the path to an ED. "Big" kids, they're just the same as every other kid, give or take a few pounds.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number

You’ve all heard this one before: “Black don’t crack.” But, I submit for you a new catchphrase: “Brown don’t frown.” ™© (You best pay me if you steal this one.) It’s a well-known fact that melanin protects skin from the sun’s harmful rays, resulting in reduced risk of skin cancer as well as natural wrinkle protection. What it leads to is an inability for other people to identify how old you are.

All my life, people have been unable to guess my age. When I was in high school, I resembled a 12-year-old. In my early 20s, I looked 18. Now, at 25, I’m confused for a 21 year-old. Since I finally look like I’m legal, I guess I should be flattered. Pretty soon (ok, a half-decade from now), I’ll be the most convincing 30 year-old pretending to be 25.

Despite my typical ethnic girl hang-ups with melanin, I am incredibly grateful to be blessed with skin that doesn’t sunburn or crinkle. Ninety-five percent of the time. I see how gracefully the women in my family have aged and I hope to follow suit.

But, there’s a little bitty part of me that wishes I could appear my age once in a while. Say, in the workplace. This summer, I interned at a PR agency, where I know I passed for one of the undergrad interns. It would have been nice if my same-age mentor would have regarded me as such. I know that it’s shallow and ageist, but older people are regarding with more authority at work, and their responsibilities are doled out accordingly.

The other area age shouldn’t be twisty: romantic encounters. Get your mind out of the gutter, not that kind. I just mean, when I first meet a guy – out on the town – I don’t like to be greeted with, “Twenty-five? Oh, I thought you were younger.” Complimentary sometimes, but not when you leave the interaction feeling like an old bitch. One day I will be thrilled to attract younger men, but right now, I'm not trying to get with a I-just-graduated-live-with-my-parents-have-no-income kind of guy.

I suppose I’ll just have to wait til I’m fabulous 40 to accept my god-given anti-aging serum.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Words, Words, Words... Too Many Words

Dear Readers,

I apologize for the current aesthetically unpleasant nature of this blog. I don't know if this was on Google's part (I'm guessing it is), but all of our pictures disappeared. I will work to upload those again, but ewww, who wants to look at an image-less blog?

- Bitch, please

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bye Bye Bookstores

As I recently reopened the file containing THE definitive Millennial novel (known to many of you as Vignettes, or simply Jane), which I am co-authoring with one of my best friends, I couldn’t help but mourn the loss of our third writing partner, Borders bookstore. As disillusioned post-grads, my writing partner and I would steal away from our parents’ homes and head over to our writer’s studio at least, twice, maybe three times a week.

There, our bank-tellering addled minds were soothed by the gentle hum of World Music, light jazz and the occasional Seal album. We would warm our bellies with Snickerdoodle cookies and Caramel Apple Cider (Starbucks had nothing on ‘em). Then, we would write and talk and write and talk and write. For hours. Often, we would take breaks to peruse the books and draw some inspiration. And even though we always left well after closing time, the employees at the Borders store in Rockford never kicked us out.

I can’t say the same for Barnes and Noble. The handful of times we attempted to work there, the pastries were cold, drinks overpriced, coffeehouse versions of pop classics made my ears bleed and the staff couldn’t wait to get us out the door. “B&N” just lacked that certain everything.

Tragically, after a prolonged bankruptcy process, one of those booksellers disappeared off the face of the earth last week. To my dismay it was Borders, the retailer that placed all its faith in paper books, instead of the digital kind.

Barnes and Noble, on the other hand, stays afloat by pushing the Nook, an electronic device that makes it possible to read with minimal effort while lounging on the beach, standing on the train and laying in bed. That’s all well and good, but as a wannabe author, I have always dreamt of seeing my name printed on a book cover. And of standing at a lectern, book in palm, reading to an audience, slowly turning the pages to build up anticipation. From early childhood, I was a book nerd. The more engaged I become with a text, the more wrapped up I get in the character, the more greedily I turn the pages. I’d always wished the same from my readers, that they would be able to devour my pages.

But those days are gone. I recently read Super Sad True Love Story, a dystopian novel (you know I love those) about the downfall of hyper-consumer civilization. In Gary Shteyngart’s satirical farce, set in the not-so-far in the future, books are referred to as artifacts. The premise is that the digital generation has no need for them. They communicate purely through devices and screens (called apparati), which severely hinders their ability to interact face-to-face, demolishes attention spans and causes a plague of illiteracy. Shteyngart’s anti-hero is the only poor sap who still believes in the power of words, the last reader left in the world.

The fall of the bookstore signifies loss to me. Recently, I spent a leisurely day at the beach with some friends. I had a novel with me, which bore a scandalous name: Eating Chinese Food Naked. (The title was far more tililating than the book was.) Someone asked me how I heard of it. I found her question confusing. Reviews and recommendations are always appreciated but, what I enjoy is the process of finding a book, wandering the aisles in search of that one book that speaks to me.
Sure, it’s nifty to have entire texts at your disposal with just the mere push of a button. But I, for one, will miss the promise of exploration, discovery and fantasy dead-tree books carried with them.