The Spin Crowd
Kim Kardashian executive produces and makes an appearance on this latest E! reality trash-fest which follows the staff of Command PR as they set up a new office in Los Angeles. Nothing exciting or memorable here. Although the series does raise a couple of questions, like why company president, Jonathan Cheban and vice president, Simon Huck, live together when they both should be making more than enough money to have separate quarters. Another phony-baloney slight of hand that can only be attributed to the constant 'need for drama' on these types of shows. Other than the occasional jolt of a celebrity cameo (Kelly Rowland, Mario Lopez, Kelly Osbourne, among others), there's no one in the cast that's endearing or interesting enough to keep me watching. Everyone's too busy waiting for a pause in the mindless banter to give a quotable insult to a colleague. I like playing the dozens like everybody else, but who in their right mind would do it at work? PASS!
The producers of 'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette' cheapen the price of love to the tune of $250,000. Not a bad price, you might be thinking, but remember that the two shows in 15+ combined seasons has produced only two marriages. Previous participants of the aforementioned shows return to the house for a chance at cash and 'love'. The series is an amalgamation of Survivor and Big Brother. Each week there's a challenge for a rose. The winner gets immunity and one step closer to the cash prize. He or she also gets to handpick three people from the house for a date and give one of them an immunity rose . For some of the contestants, this is clearly all about the dough (a few are on the show and in a relationship), so I find it deceitful for the producers to pretend that they have any interest in sowing seeds of romance when in reality they just hope that someone loses their inhibitions (frequently) while the cameras are rolling (ratings!).In an interesting twist, the men vote off one women and the women vote off one of the guys which will likely encourage a lot of romantic shenanigans in an effort to stay in the house. And if that's not enough to pepper the pot, the cast stays in one room! Nothing says lovin' like shacking up in room with bunk beds. I've only watched one installment of the show and have no plans to waste any more brain space. I'm not comfortable with love (or the promise of love) being used for manipulative means. And can someone please explain to me why in the eight years that 'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette' have been on, there's been not one bachelor or bachelorette of color?
The Monique Show
Don't get me wrong; I love Mo'Nique. She is an unlikely star who has risen from stand up comedian to TV star to movie star to Academy Award winning performer. Few people can claim a similarly impressive resume. That being said, Mo'Nique's many charms do not make for a good late night host. She doesn't open with monologue like most of her competition. Instead, she interacts with her audience and sidekick, Rodney Perry. In the show I watched, they invited two studio audience members to battle in a dance contest. Mo'Nique implied that the move was unscripted, but nothing about it felt fresh or off the cuff. Her delivery feels more like a sermon on Sunday morning, just around the time when the pastor is winding things up and getting louder as he make his final points. Except Monique doesn't get louder, she is loud. Every comment is punctuated with an exclamation point. Her questions don't flow; they seem to be fed to her from the show runners and when she compliments her guests, you'd think she was meeting the Queen Mother or Nelson Mandela. Her praise is often too big for the person, not undeserved, mind you, just overdone. Mo'Nique is one of those rare performers of color who have the potential to explode in the mainstream; just because her show is on BET doesn't mean she can't have non-black guests. A woman who has such great vision for herself shouldn't be so limited when it comes to who she talks with on her show. Perhaps instead of hug at the end, she should give herself a swift kick.
The Real Housewives of DC
Considering that I picked the NJ sister show as one of my favs for summer viewing, I thought I would be willing to give this latest entry a chance…not so much. They advertise the show as an inside look at DC's mover and shakers, but it really is more of a glimpse at some of DC's upper and upper middle classes. Nice to see though that most of the women are married, making them actual 'wives,' though housework is hardly on the agenda. The forced interaction is palpable. These women don't know (or necessarily like) each other. If the cameras aren't there, neither is the relationship. And I hate to be judgmental, but why glorify the behavior of a notorious party crasher like Michaele Salahi by giving her a prime slot on this show?
Auto-Tune the News: Bed Intruder Song
If you ever believed that white TV journalists reporting stories in African American communities conspired to seek out the loudest, most ignorant, inappropriately dressed 'eyewitness' as a means of shaming the black race, look no further than this youtube video which uses actual footage from a news telecast of Antoine Dodson who intervened when an intruder broke into his sister's bedroom and tried to assault her. The resulting youtube clip is an autotuned version of Dodson's account of the previous night's event set to music. All at once, funny and ridiculous, the video is heighten by Dodson facial expressions and hand motions.
P!NK - Glitter in the Air
I usually enjoy watching live performances on youtube. It's one of the few places where you have unlimited access to some of your favorite artists' shows. This clip from the 52nd annual Grammy Awards was, in my opinion, the performance of the night. Despite being in the music business for over a decade, P!nk (nee Alecia Moore) stole the show with a career defining performance that literally raised her to new heights. It was a risk taking rendition of a surprisingly subtle song from the errant pop singer, from the choice of costume to the acrobatics above the crowd. But interestingly enough, despite everything there to distract, P!nk's (live) vocals keep your attention the whole way through…although the trick in the end is pretty cool.
Newsroom- Portable Sewing Machine….
Before the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, there was the Onion, the place on the web for insightful, incisive satire. Originally produced as a free parody newspaper, the Onion has evolved to include videos and a podcast. While many of the clips featured on its youtube channel could be spotlighted, I chose this one because it shows what the Onion does best, take a serious issue, and flip it on it head. Warning: some of the content on the Onion channel are not for the uptight, faint of heart or underage. View with caution.
Man Forced to Marry Girlfriend
Brought you by Vejatv.com
This is the sole non-youtube video on the list and it's a good one. I can't confirm whether the source is real, but this clip is apparently from an Indian news broadcast and the title speaks for itself. It is terrible to laugh at someone else's pain, but the man does himself no service as he cries, writhes in pain, pulls out his hair and faints. Bonus: the narrator does a wonderful job describing the absurdity of the scene without a hint of sarcasm or judgment.
West Coast Swing
Not that you were looking for this particular type of clip, but I had to include it because this style of dance is becoming a favorite of mine. It's not the kind of swing that you would expect: brass heavy sound with high flying aerial dance tricks. On the contrary, this dance is much more grounded and smooth; a slotted dance, as it is called, because the pair moves up and down on a 'line' on the floor. Unlike most other dances, it can be performed to a variety of music styles: fast and slow, classic and contemporary.
Marvin Gaye Sings the National Anthem
Ever wonder how the Star Spangled Banner would sound if sung like a slowed down love song? No? Then clearly, you've never heard Marvin Gaye do what only Marvin Gaye could do with our beloved anthem. Sung at the 1983 NBA All Star Game, the balladeer takes a bold step forgoing the usual trumpets and drums for a keyboard and a smooth syncopated beat. Watching this clip, you'd have thought members of the audience were at one of his concerts rather than a sporting event. For a moment, I thought the man would be showered with some lady's unmentionables rather than applause.
Would you take marital advice from someone twice divorced? You might, if you were trying to figure out what type of behavior to avoid once married. What about listening to lessons on love from an admitted player? Maybe, once again, if you were looking to avoid becoming easy prey. The same counsel that we (and by 'we' I mean women) would be wary of in person, we seem to clamor for in print. We'll read books by gay men, straight men, single men, divorcees, widowers all in hopes that they will give us insight on getting that elusive hardware on our left hands. But maybe we should check our sources.
Consider some of the titles that have come our way in recent years, for instance, 'The MANual: A True Bad Boy Explains How Men Think, Date and Mate--and What Women Can Do to Come Out on Top.' I read this book when it came out, not for any dating tips, but to get another perspective on the male mind. It should come as no surprise that someone who looks at dating as a game of one-upsmanship would frame his point of view as how to get the better of an opponent, but falling in love or seeking love shouldn't be played like a game of chess; because if you 'win,' how do you plan to date someone that feels like a loser and would you want to date someone who is, in a sense, a loser? And if every man treats a woman like a conquest, what happens when she's conquered? Is he going to want to settle down and get married? Not likely. What any woman can tell you is that once a man gets want he wants, he's gone. Especially if he's playing games.
Another recent addition is comedian Steve Harvey's New York Times bestselling book, 'Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man'. What makes Harvey, who is now happily married for the third time, an expert? There's no doubt his fan base from stand up performances and his nationally syndicated radio show, as well as admirers of his old school, 'tell it like it is' style of advisement have contributed to the book's smashing success. Harvey has even refashioned himself as 'love doctor' appearing on Nightline and Good Morning, America to dole out the truth about dating to lovelorn singles. Why his advice is mainly geared at women is beyond me. Can't men be clueless too?
In our society, it seems as though there has been a flip in the balance of power when it comes to dating. It used to be that a women's intuition ruled when it came to courtship. Men would have to play by a lady's rules if he wanted a chance. Now, with the decline of chivalry and the rise of extreme feminism, women's needs have taken a backseat to men's wants. A woman who desires marriage is portrayed as desperate and needy, someone to be avoided at all costs. For evidence, look no further than the movie He's Just Not That Into You, based on the book of the same name, which itself was inspired by a Sex in the City episode.
In the movie, woman are depicted as clueless, frigid and home wrecking. In one storyline, a character named Beth (played by Jennifer Aniston) decides to break up with a boyfriend after 7 years and no proposal. The resolution? After observing her sisters' soulless marriages, she agrees to continue the relationship so long as he is committed to her. The characters end up marrying in the end, but not until after Beth gives up her desire to wed almost as if the writers were saying, it shouldn't be about marriage, it should be about him. Mmmph! Give me a break!
No man has ever been depicted as weird or uptight for not wanting to get married. As a matter of fact bachelorhood is celebrated in our society as something that should be held onto for as long as possible. Single men are cool, hip and happening; single woman are sad, lonely and desperate; men's lives are full and active; a woman doesn't really feel completely fulfilled until there's a man to come home to. Where's does this all come from? I blame it on the fact that most of Hollywood is male (men compose over seventy percent of TV writers). I also blame women for believing the reality that these men create.
People often downplay the connection between the movies and Main Street, but art has strong influence on our culture. The fantasies created onscreen often become the next big thing. So, when TV tells us that marriage is a holdover from a bygone era…we believe them; when TV tells us that the most desirable woman is the most sexually uninhibited, we believe them; when TV tells us its more entertaining to watch women prostrate themselves for one man, we say, that's the way it should be! They're right! But who does this inuring benefit?
The majority of dating reality shows of the 21st century have fifteen to twenty women seeking the hand of one guy: The Bachelor, Ochocinco: the Ultimate Catch, Rock of Love, For the Love of Ray J, and, Lord God Almighty, Flavor of Love, sending the message that no matter how crusty the intended, women will go for it. Shows that put a twist on it (Average Joe, For Love or Money, Joe Millionaire, Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?) do so to the detriment of their female participants, attempting to reveal them as superficial or venal.
When a woman does come around to try to clean up the dating muck being dish out by her male counterparts, she is often criticized, as in the case of The Rules authors, Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, who were called out for not having a sufficient background to be doling out dating advice or Patti Stanger, CEO of the Millionaire's Club and star of Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker who was mocked because she was unmarried. No such arrows were thrown at VH1's Steve Ward who hosts Tough Love and remains without girlfriend or wife.
Dating is a challenging prospect especially for those who seek to be married, but it becomes even more daunting when dealing with negative ideals created by books, TV and films. Say what you will about the challenges of marriage, but for many single women (and men) that is still the ultimate goal of dating. For the media to put men in the position of being all knowing when it comes to relationships is to ignore women's natural intelligence when it comes to the same subject. I'm not saying women are smarter, just that our point of view is equally valid.
SCREAM QUEENS 2
(Mondays @ 10 on VH1)
This installment of the series features the same premise as the first: a group of twenty something beauties are brought to a tricked out fun house for a once in a lifetime opportunity, a role in the movie Saw 3-D. But the second time around features a new host, Jaime King along with acting coach, John Homa and director, Tim Sullivan. The three mentor the actresses as well as act as judges.
The contestants are thrust right into the action with an opening challenge that requires them to perform a scene reminiscent of Nightmare on Elm Street (one of my favorite horror flicks). The winner of the challenge receives a guaranteed callback (immunity). Gabby, a 24-year old from New Mexico, gets the win and the title of frontrunner. This distinction doesn't go unnoticed and a couple of the girls snicker that the judges didn't really like her performance as much as they liked her 'essence'. Me-ow!
The next day, the participants meet with John Homa for an acting class, the highlight of the episode. The focus of the lesson is rage; the women are required to say a few short lines while smashing pumpkins with a bat. In some cases, I felt myself squirming at the falseness of the performances, while with others, I was nodding my head, completely feeling where the scene was taking me. That's the thing about art, it's all about connection. The difficulty is that the horror genre requires a lot of over the top dialogue, expressions and story lines. How a performer brings that across without making the audience burst out laughing is what separates the women from the girls.
The final segment is the director's challenge where the actors had to film three brief scenes which were edited together to create a 30-second movie trailer. Each scene requires them to show different qualities all integral in being the ultimate scream queen: sexiness, ferocity and fear. The winner of the director's challenge becomes that week's leading lady. The poorest performer gets the axe.
Although the series doesn't make me want to see Saw (no pun intended), it does make me want to watch Gabby, Jessica and Tai (my picks for the final three) to see how they progress in their performances and in dealing with the growing intensity of the tests. While most of the other actors are forgettable, the interviews they do that narrate the episode feel sincere and not overly catty or scripted, surprising considering that they are performers. For many of these women, more than the movie role, being on this show is probably the biggest chance that they have had so far in their careers and that urgency (maybe even desperation)to succeed fuels the fire that pushes the show forward and makes it a can't miss.
IF YOU REALLY KNEW ME
(MTV, Tuesdays nights)
This series follows 'Challenge Day (a movement to create dialogue and break down cliques amongst teenagers) as it travels to high schools across the nation. The show opens with featured students describing their self-appointed clique (nerd, band geek, jock, etc). They describe the social environment in the school and how they interact. A few adults chime in, but the focus is squarely on the kids.
The day opens with a few games and icebreakers to get everyone comfortable with the faces that they'll be seeing for the next few hours. After that, the mediator introduces himself and then literally, steps outside the box. This box is made of pieces of tape placed on the ground, but it symbolizes the cramped space that a lot of the young people are in by force or choice. He goes on to say that 'outside the box is where life really happens.' He opens the floor by talking about his own life, his failures and challenges, allowing all others in the room to feel free to do the same. The kids are separated into small groups and are asked to finishing the following sentence: if you really knew me, you would know…
To speak openly about your fears, to be vulnerable in front of people who may not like/know you takes an immense amount of courage. Listening to these young people tell their stories with trembling voices and streaming tears tells me that we have a generation of youth who are hurting and breaking under the expectations placed upon them by society, family and friends. As each student finishes the sentence, there are no judgments, no advice, just comfort offered by fellow group member who a few minutes prior was likely just another face in the hallway. It was quite a revelation to see a jock, who admitted to tormenting band geeks, put his arm around one who had just confessed to being gay.
The next phase of the challenge is 'The Power Shuffle'; all the students stand on one side of the room, as the announcer calls out an event or gives a description (e.g. 'if you have lost someone to or been a victim of an act of violence), those to whom the words apply will cross a line to the other side and face those remaining who will then hold up the sign language sign for 'I love you' (pointer, pinky and thumb fully extended, with middle and ring finger down.) As everyone looks across the room and to their sides, they realize that they are not alone in their experiences and more so, that there are people who will love and support them. A point was made of a young man who seemingly crossed the line almost every time and as you can see from the example above, walking to the other side of the room meant you had survived or witnessed something traumatic. For this kid to have seen and lived through as much as he had (and still be in school) spoke volumes about his character and guts. There are men and women twice his age that would crack and break under similar circumstances.
Finally, the mediator poses the question, 'what will you do differently?' After all, talk of change is not as important as practicing it. Each student is asked to take the love and learning that they experienced and bring it into the world. At the end of the episode, we witness how some of the 'Challenge Day' students apply the experience to their lives; a couple of students from various cliques decide to hang out together; a jock goes to his football team to address underlying racism; and in another one, a teen courageously reaches out to her visibly uncomfortable father.
Perhaps 'Challenge Day' won't change a generation overnight, but I commend MTV for stepping away from the usual fluff and filler and exposing its audiences to a movement that can have a positive lifelong impact.
I promised a music article in the last installment of the Summer's Seven Guilty Pleasures, but truth be told, I don't listen to the radio that much or buy albums anymore, so when I do hear a song that registers…it means something: that the performer has done what few artists have been able to...they caught my attention. During the summer I expect a few anthems (a la Beyonce's 'Crazy in Love') or laid back jams (Kid Rock, 'All Summer Long'). This summer hasn't delivered a standout so far, but below are a few choice contenders:
(The Superstar Collaboration)
LOVE THE WAY YOU LIE - EMINEM FEAT. RIHANNA: A great song has contrast and builds. This single, off Eminem's 'Recovery' has Rihanna singing a soft, breathy hook while Eminem spits out verses with a contained rage that makes the lyrics shoot out at you. (Currently #1 on the Billboard 100)
(The One Hit Wonder)
IMPOSSIBLE - SHONTELLE: The song isn't impressive for Shontelle's voice, although she does have a lovely one, you can hear better ones singing in church on Sunday. No, the credit for this song belongs to the producer, Arnthor Birgisson, who crafted an airy ballad that floats like a feather and just as easily blows away.
(The Dance Song)
YOUR LOVE IS MY DRUG -KE$HA
Since Ke$ha has released three catchy Billboard charting singles from her album 'Animal,' she can't be labeled 'one-hit.' Despite not making it to #1 (the song peaked at #4), Your Love Is My Drug benefits from Ke$ha's loopy party girl delivery and fun lyrics.
(The Country Crossover)
NEED YOU NOW- LADY ANTEBELLUM
Despite there being more country music stations than any other type of radio station in the US, artists from the genre rarely make a dent on the Hot100... that is until the success of uber-stars like the Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain and Faith Hill. Lady Antebellum joins the list by using the tried and true method of country voices, with a mainstream sound.
(The Love Song)
UN-THINKABLE (I'M READY) - ALICIA KEYS
Word is that Keys' now husband, then boyfriend, Swiss Beatz inspired the lyrics in this song. A big difference in tone for Keys whose vocals usually express ache and yearning. She's singing about love this time, not loss. There's a peace and calm to the single that makes it a standout in Keys' repertoire.
(The Cameo Song)
ALL I DO IS WIN - DJ KHALED FEAT. T-PAIN, LUDACRIS, RICK ROSS & SNOOP DOGG
There's usually one single during the summer season that features over two well known artists, kind of like 'We Are the World,' but on a smaller scale. You'll see this more with non-performers (I'm talking to you, Diddy!) who cover themselves by featuring a hot beat and every artist they've ever met.
(The Fad Song)
TEACH ME HOW TO DOUGIE - CALI SWAG DISTRICT
The season would be incomplete without the song that sparks a dance craze, like the Macarena and the Soulja Boy before it, this song's verses are mostly filler while the main course is the chorus which allows you to 'dougie' to your hearts content.
(The Comeback Song)
POWER - KANYE WEST
After an absence instigated by his mic-checking Taylor Swift at the MTV Music Video Awards, the wild, wild West returns with a monster single that confirms his talent and (once again) showcases his ego. Is it a march, is it a rock song or a rap song? Who cares! Kanye, can do.
As I write this article, we are slowly, but surely approaching the unofficial end of summer. Hopefully, you've been out and about enjoying some sun, surf or sand. But if the recession has been keeping you homebound, have no fear! There is still lots of entertainment to be had for the tightfisted couch potato. For the next seven weeks, I'll be sharing some of the best stuff to be seen and heard from the comforts of home at little to no cost, especially if you have internet or cable/satellite and if you don't, it's probably because they can't attached a dish to the rock you've been living under. Some of the selections might surprise you, but I hope you approach this list with an open mind (which is easy for me since I have fourteen hours a day of free time). If you check out the suggestions, let me know what you think and be sure to recommend a few viewing delights of your own.
THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY (Bravo, Mondays @ 10pm):
Yes, I'm picking the oft-maligned, but oft-watched 4th installment in the Real Housewives franchise and not only that, but I'm picking the wives from a state with probably the least cachet. The cast might not have the same pedigree as their sister shows, but at least they are actual housewives. There's only one divorcee on the show and she's the black sheep.
The series, in its second season on Bravo, centers around sisters Caroline and Dina, Jacqueline (their brother, Chris's wife), Teresa, a longtime family friend and Danielle, an acquaintance (barely) and aforementioned black sheep. The show works better than it predecessors for three main reasons: one, most of the cast are related in some way and have known each other for a long time. The dynamics are developed and the interactions aren't forced; two, the problems feel relatable. Nobody's talking about how hard it is to keep up their $3.5 million summer home. And three, the tension is real.
Danielle is an outsider, but a necessary antagonist. After watching the other cast members speak disparagingly of her and bully her (to the point of the police being called in one episode), I felt sorry for her. After the first season's finale, most of the women decided to cut off all communication with Danielle, who in the process, has become more paranoid and deluded in the isolation.
Mother hen, Caroline, leads the anti-Danielle charge and has encouraged others to stay as far away from her as possible. Her lack of Danielle interaction limits her camera time, but when she does get some, it usually centers around her children Albie, Lauren and Christopher. Lately, though, Caroline's tough as nails demeanor is showing cracks as her children leave home and her husband remains engrossed in work, leaving her lonely and sad.
Dina, after being the focus of much of Danielle's verbal attacks, decides to leave the show , but not before taking some time to get closure (i.e, give Danielle a piece of her mind and then some). Teresa and Jacqueline are both dealing with new babies (a girl and boy, respectively); Teresa has four kids under 10 and not a babysitter, nanny, cook or driver to her name; Jacqueline, on the other hand, has to deal with three kids at various stages in life (newborn, 9 and 18). Her oldest, Ashley, moved out after an argument and was engaging in a nasty twitter battle with Danielle. The feud came to a head at a fashion show where Ashley, falsely thinking that Danielle had attacked her mother, comes from behind and pulls out her hair. Charges are pending…and I can't wait!
THE CHERRY ON TOP: interestingly enough, the breakout star of the season isn't a cast member, but a hanger-on, a sixth man if you will, Kim G, a two-face, double crossing camera hog. The woman will befriend anyone in the cast, almost as though she's making a play for a spot on the show…hmm…don't be surprised if they make her a series regular.
If you're like me, your mouth might have hit the floor or maybe your brow is still bent out of shape after taking in this image of a scantily clad Miley Cyrus, backstage during an appearance at an awards show. She is the latest in a line of female child performers who, in order to shed their nice girl image, start showing off their goodies like meat in a market. In response to the criticism, Cyrus has said, 'I work really hard to be fit and to know I can wear whatever makes me feel most comfortable, and I feel most comfortable dressing with a little less. And that's kind of how I've always been, it's just now I'm able to do that a little more freely,"
Since when did being comfortable with your body translate to showing it off in mini skirts, thigh highs and bustiers? Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Jessica Biel and the recently retired, Amanda Bynes all took their turns on the covers of various magazines wearing their tarted-up best and except for a bit a buzz, the tactic rewarded them with precious little added success. So why risk alienating a predominately female (and notoriously fickle) tween fan base with a sexed up look?
What most of these transitioning child stars don't realize is that this method will likely fail. Hollywood is littered with kids who, for one reason or another, could not get work past puberty. For every success (Jodie Foster), there are numerous, and in some cases, tragic failures (Corey Haim, Gary Coleman, Dana Plato). What makes Miley's approach so sad is that she's convinced that scintillation is the way to stave off obscurity. Somehow becoming a woman means owning one's sexuality (how do you not own what's already yours?) and relinquishing one's inhibitions (doing everything because you can isn't reasonable, it's stupid.) She has bought into the idea that self-exploitation is a higher form of feminism and empowerment when in actuality, it's gross objectification in disguise.
Like many child performers before her, Cyrus wants the adulation, but not the responsibility; she doesn't want to be beholden to her fans and have to think about what kind of a problem her example creates. She wants supporters to buy her CDs and the products she endorses, watch her show, see her movies, but when she punches out at the end of the day, so should her devotees desire to emulate her. Perfectly understandable thought, but wishful thinking nonetheless. Success comes from being great at what you do, but fame and celebrity come from people wanting to be like you, lose that and you lose your bread and butter.
I do feel for a lot of these talented children. Many love what they do and want to continue working into adulthood, but so much of it is outside of their hands. Charisma is a very important (and highly unpredictable) part of the equation. Being endearingly cute and having a smart catchphrase means nothing to the over-18 set, and neither does playing like a grown up in mommy's clothes. A lot of the new generation stars grew up during the height of Madonna's fame and have taken a page from her envelope pushing book, but that's the problem. They're taking from her book when they should be writing their own. Madonna's attention grabbing, partly relied on publicity stunts and ego trips, but at the core of it was a woman who knew that in order to stay relevant she needed to innovate and evolve. That's why she's selling out arenas over twenty years later.
If Miley and her cohorts want a career span longer than yardstick, they have to try channeling their inner, not outer, Madonna because let's be honest, we've seen it all before.
In light of the recent rash of very public mea culpas (a list which most recently includes, Connecticut Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson and anyone associated with British Petroleum), it seems only appropriate to share some thoughts on what has become quite a problem for those burned by the spotlight.
One thing I learned is that to apologize and to say 'I'm sorry,' are two different things: sorry is something you are; apologizing is something that you do and it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with how you feel. I used to hate it when people would apologize to absolve themselves of the guilt of the behavior, but not address the pain caused. It is the most selfish expression of regret that leaves the recipient burdened and the offender skipping away scot free. I realize now that 'sorrys' and 'apologies' serve different purposes. Since being sorry is a personal matter (one that is internalized), I can't question whether or not it's effective or sincere, but apologies address and explain poor behavior and that can be scrutinized until the cows come home.
While this list includes points about celebrities and public officials, I am less inclined to show sympathy for the latter of the two. People who become famous have no control over the amount of attention they receive or when they receive it. Though they do have an obligation to be decent and respectful to their fans and those around them (like everybody else), they still have a right to a private life which isn't always honored by the tabloid press. That kind of pressure would cause anyone to act badly. Politicians and government officials, however, know exactly what they are signing up for because they swear to it. These men and women realize that because they are public servants, there are aspects of their lives which the populace will be privy to. Which makes the first lesson obvious, but important:
Don't do it in office (or on the campaign trail): it's shady to cheat on your wife, even shadier to cheat on your wife with a man, but it's worst to do it on the public dime and time. Notice that I'm specifically speaking about adulterous behavior, which outside of an elected position, does not require public apology. Avoiding this kind of behavior should be easy, but as Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, Sanford, John Edwards and former NJ governor, Jim Mc Greevey have shown us, it isn't.
Be charismatic: if people like you, they'll be more than willing to forgive you. And in some cases, not only forgive, but not even require an act of contrition. Case in point, David Letterman, who diffused his would be blackmail sex scandal by addressing it with humor and humility. He was likeable, funny and honest and when the Tiger Woods mistress count started, his story quickly faded to the back burner.
Be quick to talk (but not too much): talk of Tiger, anyone wonder what would have happened had he addressed the accident(remember the late night fender bender that started it all?) immediately rather than let the situation bubble and then boil over? Tiger's vow of silence and disappearing act only convicted him in the court of public opinion and it allowed others the time to tell his story for him.
Give reasons, not excuses: A form press release and an obligatory trip to rehab have become almost de rigueur (and tired) in the world of public apology. Struggle is real, but at the same time, own your behavior. Witness Sarah Ferguson's interview with Oprah where she watched as she sold out her ex-husband and constantly referred to herself in the third person, as though she was sleepwalking through sin. Apologies that explain why you couldn't help but do the bad thing you did aren't apologies, they're justifications.
Be visible: this suggestion goes against the grain a bit because it is commonly thought that once you're caught with your pants down, you go off to the boondocks to eat your humble pie. Not so. Continue to live; your example can give others the courage to admit and then move on from a mistake, but the key is to be like a child in the presence of adults: seen and not heard. After the initial apology, excessive speech negates positive action.
Be real: Paris Hilton is the perfect example of someone who tries to change her public image overnight after a major faux pas. When her sex tape came out, suddenly a woman who walked red carpets in little more than a bikini top and mini-skirt was doing interviews in knee length dresses and demure blouses. Following sentencing for a DUI, she was photographed about town with a bible in hand. Give me a break! Personal growth doesn't come out a microwave. The only thing developed in such a short period of time is manipulative insincerity.
Don't forget to fact check: Why, in an age of Google, YouTube, Wikipedia and the Freedom of Information Act, would a public person think that they could get away with even the smallest fib? We all know about Richard Blumenthal lying about serving in Vietnam, but on a smaller scale, what about Beyonce dropping an untruth in an interview when she claimed she wrote her #1 hit 'Irreplaceable' (actually penned by Ne-Yo)? If you're going to lie, make sure it doesn't take a five-minute search on the internet to prove you a fraud.
As a huge fan of the Sex and the City series and movie franchise, I, like many other fans, was sorely disappointed by the sequel. Where the original had tension and character development, the follow up lacked drive and had too much of a 'back in the good ole days' vibe. It didn't feel present, but seemed as though it was taking the characters back to a time before marriage and kids. Sadly, I didn't want to see the characters as they used to be, but I wanted a peek into how they are now.
Despite the letdown, I'm going to flip my perspective and share reasons why I don't regret the two and a half hours lost and twelve dollars spent. After all, it's not my style to trash female-fierce films. Especially considering how few movies are headline by women over 40.
You can never go back. The movie starts with a brief flashback of the foursome in the 80s, when they all first met. And that was the last bit of reminiscing that was somewhat enjoyable. Interestingly enough, this rule only applies to two out the four: Carrie and Samantha; Miranda and Charlotte seem to push forward despite the challenges that being an adult woman can bring, but their compatriots don't fare so well. Carrie longs for excitement in her 2-year old marriage. This desire pushes her into considering a part-time living arrangement and into the arms of a former lover (if you've seen the trailer, you already know who). Samantha, meanwhile, is relegated to the lowest sex gags and cheap jokes. I get it; she likes sex, but after seeing Samantha take on three dimensions in her relationship with Smith, it's disappointing to watch her regress into a vagina on legs.
Marriage can be boring. Here I thought it was the seven-year itch you had to watch out for, but in our ADHD society that's been cut in less than half to two. So, Carrie (and probably, Big) both are having a hard time adjusting to matrimony. Maybe that because he's on his third marriage and she's spent most of her adult life dating a bunch of different guys. 'Variety is the spice of life' and when you live that for a decade or more before you get married, how can you look one person in the eyes forever and not twitch?
Get cultural perspective. I lived in a country where instead of saying 'excuse me' when you burped, you'd say 'thank God'; instead of rotating lunch breaks, a whole business would shut down for an hour or two. Did this make sense to me? No, but I learned the reason behind it instead of dismissing it as the trappings of a backward people. Something that our fabulous ladies never do (although Miranda does try) on a trip to Abu Dhabi. Although the host describes the city as 'the new Middle East,' it's still historically Muslim; there is a reserve and modesty which Samantha abhorrently rejects, Carrie casts a downward glance on and Charlotte doesn't really think about excepts she's sure she doesn't want to use her married (read: Jewish) name because 'it's still the Middle East.'
Fashion is ageless. Sex and the City has become synonymous with fashion innovation and trends thanks to stylist extraordinaire, Patricia Field. Risk taking isn't limited to the under-29 set. Ms. Field takes the ladies to gorgeous highs (colorful fabrics, flowy outfits , harem pants) and head scratching lows (see below).
Fashion can also be inappropriate. Why was Carrie wearing a goth-y black crown to Stanford and Anthony's wedding? What was up with the bejeweled shoulder spikes that Samantha had on? I like the fact that Sam verbally body checked the sales associate who tried to tell her that an outfit looked too 'young' for her, BUT when women of a certain age try to, stylistically, push the envelope they should be careful to mature the look. Otherwise, they'll risk appearing like they should be pushing a walker instead.
Motherhood is challenging. The best scene in the movie belonged to Charlotte and Miranda, quite frankly, the heart in an otherwise vapid film. The two shared their 'tales from the crypt' parenting moments and even raised their glasses to the women who do it without the aid of a nanny. It felt real and honest and gave their characters, who often have to play second bananas to their blonder halves, top billing.
Karaoke should be surprisingly good or comically bad. Correct me if I'm wrong, but nobody wants to hear 'I Am Woman.' Actually, nobody wants to hear a karaoke version of 'I Am Woman,' so when the ladies step onto the stage at a hip nightclub and honk out this hokey women's lib anthem, I'm stunned that the crowd would join in. It would have been better if they actually raised some eyebrows - in a good way (a la Gwyneth Paltrow in Duets) or busted some guts, in funny way(a la Cameron Diaz in My Best Friend's Wedding).
Third time's a charm. Let's hope.