'Tis the season of waiting for premium cable lovers. Most of the truly addictive programs shown on HBO and Showtime (and on many basic cable channels, for that matter) wrapped up in late fall and now all the Dexperts, Trubies and Maddicts are starting to get the shakes because it'll be swimsuit weather before their favorite shows return and it seems like Two and a Half Men is taking over the tube.
They say you only roast the ones you love, but what can be said about someone with few redeemable qualities, who's essentially spent the past year roasting himself in the media? Quite a bit, apparently.
I opted out of typing music listings and attending sociology class Friday in favor of checking out the conference taking place on the University of Cincinnati’s campus: Pop Praxis: Social Justice & the Media. With discussion topics like, “Disco Stick: Lady Gaga and the Phallus” and a keynote speech from Bitch Magazine’s own Andi Zeisler, I was stoked for an enlightening day of stimulating pop culture discussion.
The conference was the result of a collection of papers, presentations and workshops submitted by speakers ranging from undergrads to professors to alumni from a number of universities. Submissions were required to regard "pop culture as it relates to feminism, race, disability or queer theory, class, consumption, and all forms of political activism or cultural production."
It was an honor for the university to welcome Andi Zeisler, co-founder and editorial/creative director of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture. She wasted no time launching into a pointed discussion about the importance of feminism today, despite the general public’s tendency to assume that the movement is past and irrelevant.
“Any media needs to make money,” Zeisler pointed out, “and the quickest and surest way to do that is to sell out women.”
In short, while addressing the frustrating roadblocks today’s feminist advocates face, Zeisler commended technology and blogging as new ways to comment on the media and bring important issues to public attention, keeping intelligent discussion going that might not have been able to take place before.
Zeisler said Bitch’s goal is to help people think about pop culture in a more critical way, so it makes sense that the speakers in the sessions that followed did exactly that.
While the main event was arguably Zeisler's speech, the presentations and workshops were fun and eye opening.
During the first session, Sarah Mitchell called out Winnie of The Wonder Years for her textbooks that attempt to make math “sexy” for middle school girls in “Postfeminist Math Barbie: Danica McKellar’s Provocative Education Advocacy.” Lee Serbin also pointed out the shaky, back-and-forth stance Tina Fey’s character holds between feminism and postfeminism in 30 Rock during her discussion, “30 Rock and Feminism in Flux.”
Some women in the media, however, aren’t so bad to look up to. One presenter discussed how Lady Gaga rocked the phallus on the cover of Q Magazine as a response to the public’s accusation that she’s packing a package. While still technically enforcing the belief that a penis equates power, her gender-bending humor puts sexists in their place.
A strong argument was also made for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Admittedly, she was skinny and blonde, but more importantly, she overcame that image to kick vampire ass. The slayer was decidedly deemed a pretty solid female role model for something popularized by mainstream television.
Feminism wasn’t the only topic of the day, however. One student discussed Batman as an extreme representation of hypermasculinity who tends to equate violence with being a man. That, and maybe steroid use after all the bulk the superhero’s acquired over the years.
During the same session, another speaker addressed the somewhat androgynous image of the emo kid. This speaker deserves props for researching something so fickle in the world of teenage cliques. She concluded that, while the emo subculture allows for somewhat of a break from that Batman-inspired masculinity, only the white boys of suburbia seem to make up this social group.
While it was impossible for me to make it to each presentation, at the end of the day, the message was clear: People need to be careful about what they consume.
There are no clear answers. Watching a Lady Gaga video over 30 Rock isn’t necessarily going to be more empowering, and children who prefer Batman to Chris Carrabba aren’t doomed to a life of violence. The important thing Pop Praxis stressed is that the discussion remains open and that we, as responsible consumers of popular culture, keep a critical eye on it.
Go here to read part one.
Somehow Saturday morning Jeff and I woke up bright and early. Flavor Flav must have sprinkled some magic dust on us the night before, because we weren't our usual hungover pieces of shit, writhing under covers 'til noon. For this special occasion, we headed to the famous Loveless Motel & Cafe (8400, Tennessee 100, Bellevue), a comfort food mecca and Nashville landmark. Hundreds of country musicians and otherwise famous humans hung their hats here when it was a hotel and have stopped in for grub since it's been a restaurant (seriously, there are countless autographed head shots covering every square inch of the walls).
Tune into CBS at 9 p.m. Sunday to watch Mayor Mark Mallory on Undercover Boss!
Stop waiting for a streetcar to pick you up! Get on your fixed-gear and go get yourself a "poop as you go" TOTO Biogas Bike. This Japanese invention runs completely on human waste and the company calls poop the "new coal."
TOTO is predominately a toilet maker but thought they'd try their hand at making motorcycles that not only run on poop, but use “residual light imagery to write messages in the air as it zooms by." Not to mention, it “can also play music to entertain spectators.” Finally, the toilet actually talks, a feature with which TOTO has been equipping many of its toilets.
Fans will recognize Odenkirk from Mr. Show, Breaking Bad and countless other TV appearances, where he generally plays a cheap, arrogant skeezball. Let's Do This is no different.
Let's Do This also stars hilarious "I've seen that guy in a million things" comedians like Jerry Minor (Delocated's Mighty Joe Jon, The Black Blonde), Brian Posehn (The Sarah Silverman Program) and Cincinnati-native Andre Hyland (The Jesse Miller Talk Show, Tracy, Dean & Jesus) all star in the video.
Check back with Adultswim.com for Let's Do This updates.
Duchess Kate was hospitalized last week for Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which is pretty much a fancy way of saying “bad baby morning barfs.” My professional opinion is that her tiny 12-year-old boy body has gone into shock now that it requires more than its usual daily dose of three saltines and a grapefruit. Will and Kate’s baby is approximately the size of a pea at this point and people are already putting Kate’s nonexistent stomach under a microscope, asking absurd questions like "Could it be twins?" And, ever the bastion of journalism, US Weekly has a timeline of the duchess’ body changes over the past 10 years here. See Kate’s shape transform from fettuccine to spaghetti to spaghetti a la fetus before your eyes!
I’m rarely one to say “poor princess” and I love a good celebrity pregnancy as much as the next sad fool, but Kate's gone through more than a year of royal pressure to get knocked up, and now she is, but not even at the standard pregnancy announcement 3-month mark yet. Let up on her womb, yo!
If Kate was like us lowly commoners, she’d likely be Instagramming her tiny bump and tweeting from inside the hospital (Nuthin 2 worry bout, just tummy troubles #preggers). Call it over-sharing, but most people announce their monumental life moments on social media. So, thankfully, if you were trying to recall the major events you experienced this past year, Facebook has gone ahead and just done it for ya. Just go to your page, click See your 2012 Year in Review or go to facebook.com/yearinreview/[your Facebook url]. A slideshow of photos you’ve been tagged in rotates above a list of friends you’ve added and pages you’ve liked in the past 12 months. Scrolling further down, Facebook has generated what it believes to be the 20 “biggest moments” from your year, including status updates, photos and links. I’m assuming those who’ve posted about starting a new job, getting engaged/married, moving to a new city or having a baby — royal or otherwise — would see those types of announcements highlighted, but for losers like me that just incessantly post pointless crap, this feature is pretty damn funny.
3/20 "biggest moments" of my year include fictional characters and alcohol.
Social media is more than just a place to show off how great your life is to all your lame high school friends #thankful. It’s also a platform to reach out to public figures and celebrities. And while a member of Smash Mouth probably doesn’t fall into either category in the year 2012, Jon Hedren became determined to get a response from the band once Smash Mouth got a verified Twitter account in 2011.
Now, for those who don’t remember, Smash Mouth was a San Jose-based Pop/Rock band that provided songs for every major movie trailer and/or film credits in the late ‘90s-early ‘00s (Mystery Men, Shrek, Rat Race, Inspector Gadget — and that’s just “All Star”). They also mastered the art of the pencil-thin chin strap.
Holy shit, it’s Dane Cook…
Jon tweeted multiple silly messages to the band, but the one stood out:
After hundreds of retweets, the dumb challenge turned into a pledge to raise money for charity — all if lead singer Steve Harwell would eat a giant plate of eggs. Weeks later, a San Jose music venue promoter reached out to Jon after talking the challenge over with Harwell. More than $100,000 was raised for St. Jude’s and the Smash Mouth dude agreed to scarf some eggs at the nearby opening of a Guy Feiri restaurant. Best team-up ever, right? As Jon describes in his Vice story, “Guy and Steve were supposedly old friends and not actually the same man, despite the exact same fashion sense and divorced dad aura.”
Go here to read the full first-hand account of how this guy got the Smash Mouth guy to accept an eating challenge.
Everyone knows a good way for an actor to clinch an Oscar nom is by dropping or gaining a ton of weight. By those standards, the stars of Dallas Buyer’s Club, due in theaters in 2013, should be racking up the awards next year because they’re giving a new name to manorexia. Matthew McConaughey, who plays Ron Woodruff — a Texan who contracted HIV in the ‘80s — has been photographed in various stages of emaciation over the past few months (a stark contrast to his recent beefy Magic Mike look). And Jared Leto, portraying a transgendered woman with AIDS, recently posed for photographer Terry Richardson’s camera. I mean, way to commit to your craft but dude is cartoon skinny — like, he disappears when he turns to the side.
In Beyonce news, which should always be its own category, Mrs. Jay-Z is set to perform the halftime show at Super Bowl XLVII, she just signed a major deal with Pepsi and has directed, produced and starred in her own documentary, premiering on HBO Feb. 16. Sounds like 2013 will be the year of the Bey.
And if you attempted multiple times to pause exactly on the shot of what appears to be Beyonce’s pregnant belly (not that I did…), it looks like she’s finally putting those fake baby bump conspiracy theories to rest.
Finally, in case you missed the biggest news story of the week, a very fashionable monkey was found in a Toronto Ikea, becoming an instant Internet celebrity. Darwin is a domesticated macaque and has since been taken by animal control. His owner Yasmin Nakhuda is currently trying to get little Darwin back.
Nightmare Season is upon us as AMC's chilling zombie show The Walking Dead returns. A record-setting 7.3 million viewers tuned in last night to see Rick, Lori, Shane and the gang continue their apocalyptic journey.
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is taking over downtown this weekend, bringing around 500,000 guests! Once you've had your fill of schnitzel, Spaten and sauerkraut, stop by the CityBeat booth for the official Oktoberfest guide and register for a VIP MPMF Package and other prizes.