Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Choo on this

This is really old news but I keep coming across articles referring to it so I'll use it.

Four Inches is (according to a number of sources including News24.com ) "a charity book being produced to help an AIDS charity". Amazon.com breathlessly reports "Dressed in nothing but Jimmy Choo spikes and a single piece of Cartier jewelry, a constellation of beautiful, successful and empowering women bare all in aid of the Elton John Aids Foundation" and sells the book for a piddling $US40.95 (only $53.80 in Oztralia!).

Now call me churlish, but I've got a few issues with this.

Firstly, I'd like some clarification on which "empowering" women they're referring to. Christina Aguilera, Rachel Hunter, Victoria Beckham, Geri Halliwell...? Or maybe Sarah Ferguson, Paris or Nicky Hilton, Sophie Dahl, Anne Heche, Mimi Rogers...? There's always Pamela Anderson, Elle McPherson...? Tricky, isn't it? I'd have a buggar of a time if I was picking bridesmaids.

Secondly, I'd like to know how well the project would do without the charity provided by the Elton John AIDS Fondation. Yes, yes, the book's proceeds go to the foundation but imagine how much free publicity they've received in the first place because it's "for charity"? I've now read about the project in several newspapers and women's magazines and that's all bound to add up, let alone the warm and fuzzy response they'll get from all the readers who will want to "do their bit" for charity and feel all glamorous in the process. I do have a question though - if they're only giving 10% of the proceeds to the AIDS Foundation (yes - only 10%), does that mean the other 90% goes to Jimmy Choo? Oh. OK.

But we *are* reassured that the Foundation "will make sure that [the 10%] gets to women and girls in Africa who are infected with HIV/AIDS." What? So that they can buy some Jimmy Choos? Nice one.

Thirdly, the Take 2 site describes it "A collaboration between Jimmy Choo and Cartier, Four Inches is a book for women, about women and by women." Excuse me? Personally I'm so sick of the mock-coquettery of half of these old boilers that I'd rather look at Grandpa Simpson's scrotum, s'cuze the bad taste, but hey - they started it. And I care even less for the rest of them. But I'm obviously just one colour in life's wonderful spectrum; listen to these excepts from other hues out there who submitted their reviews of Four Inches to Amazon:

With the title "An enjoyable sexual escapade for a great cause!" JD writes:
"Old-fashioned eroticism meets the most beautiful & famous women in the world today. See supermodel Heidi Klum wearing nothing but a smile, high heels, and a cat's mask. Rapper Kelis tied up in her microphone cord with her breasts peeking out. Model/actress Carmen Electra made up as a nude marionette, which is at the same time erotic and disturbing imagery. And if that isn't freaky enough, Nicky Hilton baking in the buff! ... It's a classy art book that you can sit out on your coffee table, but the subject matter is attractive to a much wider audience of people. "
Or this:
If you are a celebrity buff like me and you love looking at pictures of your favorite celebs wearing jewels and shoes that no common person like myself will ever be able to afford in this lifetime, this book is for you.
And this bloke, who clearly hasn't been told about it being "for wimmin, by wimmin" and only gave it one disappointing star:
"The hype on the is book was the women would be wearing nothing but four inch heels and jewelry. Well most are what I would call topless shots. For me, to be nude is to show full frontal or full derriere shots. There is not one full frontal shot here... No guts, no glory. The few women who do pose nude have done so elsewhere so there is nothing new here... I was looking forward to the Duchess because she is known to have a fuller figure, a real woman's figure, which I enjoy. My respect for her just fell several notches, no guts rip off."
Poor pet.

And I suppose the poorest pet in the story is Sarah Ferguson who I hope has been spared from seeing the "From the Publisher" section where it says "Sarah Ferguson does indeed appear within these pages, but it's all in the best possible taste and for a very good cause."


Thursday, August 4, 2005

More Englitch

This post is a bit of a red herring really - not even sure whether it counts as Englitch. But seeing as I'm trying to avoid the job application I should be writing, it'll have to do.

Englitch isn't just when people use words incorrectly; it's also when they make up words that don't need to be added to the language. And unfortunately bureaucracies are as guilty of this as anyone else.

In preparation for the job application, I was reading up on the policies and frameworks governing the role. In one paragraph I saw the following sentence:

"Each course will have a mangaeable number of learning outcomes, essential content and optional contexts for learning structured into semesterised units to provide maximum flexibility for students".

Now quite apart from the whole thing being quite difficult to understand, what do you suppose "semesterised" means? "The dog semesterised the poor wee rabbit". "She looked into the viewfinder and became utterly semesterised". "Don't semesterise me, you bastard!". Hmm. Dunno about you - they all work for me.

(Just looked up www.dictionary.com just to make sure I wasn't butchering a real word and the page said "No entry found for semesterised. Did you mean Mysterized?")

Mysterized? What the?!!!?

So then I looked up "mysterized" which (apparently) means "to make mysterious". So "semesterise" must mean "to make semesterous".

Glad I cleared that one up. Am sure to get the job now...

Sexism in the city

Am pretty embarrassed to admit this one but unfortunately it's true.

Just got home and turned the TV on to notice three beautiful women in their 30's - 50's talking about something. Couldn't see what channel it was, so I assumed it was Desperate Housewives or something.

After several seconds it seemed that the script was all wrong because they were taking turns describing something that sounded scientific. "Ah", I thought, "Must be CSI or some detective show".

As they continued it started to look like a documentary or real-life type of scenario so I thought "Oh - I know, it's one of thoses psychic detective things or gruesome murder recreations and they're talking about how it happened". Yet, as I continued to listen, the women didn't seem distressed, nor melodramatic.

"OK. It looks like they're talking about breast cancer - maybe they're sisters and talking about how it affected them". Nup.

They continued to defy my expectations and I just didn't feel comfortable. After a short while the narrator mentioned something about "Professor so-and-so" and the first woman's face was back on the screen. Unlike the previous discomfort, this threw me entirely. I looked at their faces again. They could have been Desperate Housewives. They could have been Mrs Trump the 5th. They just didn't look like professors. They looked like models. Or rich women.

How about that? Me - your local in-yer-face, don't-****-with me feminist, caught in my own sexist black spot. It seems I'm prepared to offer solidarity to weathered looking women or poor women or oppressed women but give me good looking doctors and professors and I don't even bloody recognise them because secretly I mustn't believe that it's a possibility or something. As you can imagine, this made me squirm bigtime.

Yet, as I reflected on it more and more I realised that we very rarely have representations in popular culture of beautiful women as anything other than models, desperate housewives, mistresses, lap dancers (why must every show nowadays have the obligatory scene in a strip joint??...), "yummy mummies", goddesses or pretend detectives and mini-skirted lawyers with a fast mouths and big hair. Why is that? (Serious question here, not rhetoric - why DON'T we have a more balanced range of stereotypes?)

The documentary continued. I continued to feel surprised. They weren't just scientists, they discovered a really important gene in cancer research. And they wore heaps of makeup and girly clothing. And were beautiful. Geez. Do I really think that women have to choose whether to be capable or beautiful??? It seems I do. Sheesh!

Wednesday, August 3, 2005


Was watching Sunrise this morning (very rare - was at my mother's house hence the early start) and noticed something I've only ever seen on American television. In the course of the program it became obvious that the set was visible to the public through glass walls and, just like crappy American television, there were scores of people lined up, looking in, standing there gawking like absolute twits.

At first I couldn't make sense of it - what the hell were they doing? Surely they weren't standing there so they could be "on television"? After a while it started to dawn that perhaps they were. One woman rang someone on her mobile phone, waving frantically to the camera whenever it panned in her direction. Who the hell was she ringing? Who the hell would answer a phone call like that in a positive way? Others, clearly more experienced and debonair, stood in carefully constructed poses as if they just happened to be standing there thinking about Schroedinger's Cat when the Sunrise camera somehow managed to capture the profound moment.

At the end of the program the Sunrise team gathered outside and there was a large group of people behind them. Some staring at the camera with fixed stares. Others looking into the distance with a hint of amusement or practiced solemnity on their faces. Others looked at their feet but it was obvious they weren't going anywhere - they were too fully present and self-conscious. Call me thick but it really did take me a few seconds to realise they were there on purpose and they were going to stay there. The Sunrise team waved goodbye and so did the little group, part of the legitimate action for a sweet, short moment.

The image haunted me for a while until I realised what it was that had struck me most about the scene. The members of the public were just like seagulls you see at the beach, all in their various poses - some squawking openly for attention, others pretending not to notice you but all hungry - really really hungry.

Now I'm not much of a morning person but I'll change my ways for anyone who wants to meet me one morning in Sydney so that we can go to wherever the Sunrise show is to throw hot potato chips to the human seagulls. Do you suppose they'd disperse briefly and regroup like seagulls do? Or do you think they'd fly to another window? Would they be tempted by the chips?

Go on, you know you want to.

A Dog's Life

Am suffering some cognitive dissonance between my love for animals in all shapes and forms and my misgivings about the way humans in the first world increasingly deify them (and even this deification is, in my mind, a kind of twisted projection of self onto the animal and therefore not even a genuine form of care for the pet). A recent trip to a pet store to get some supplies for a dog I was minding absolutely alarmed me. Rows and rows and rows of pet paraphenalia which (from what I could see) said more about our own narcissism than any legitimate cat or dog need that I could discern. This included designer clothing that started in the $60 - 80 mark, bowls that ranged from $15 - 30, designer label frisbees and so on. The shop was chockers and clearly does great trade.

A few days ago I went to the supermarket to get some things and I was astonished to find the pet aisle bulging with new products I've never seen before - enriched cat milk, lactose free dog milk, anti-oxidant enriched nibblies, little cute tins of gourmet dog food with smatterings of chargrilled peppers or pesto for the discerning mutt. And at the same time, I realised it was also pension day because the place was just CRAWLING with old people who were obviously getting their fortnightly food supplies, checking prices carefully, buying frugally and so on. It really upset me. Really really REEEEEAAALLY upset me.

On the weekend, an article appeared in the paper, It's an organic dog's life - no bones about it, a story about the rise in people buying organic foods for their pets along with a photo of "Smudge" the dog sniffing at some "Moroccan Chicken" on a table laden with "a smorgasbord of organic temptations" - as if Smudge gives a flying **** about the exotic cuisine. Remember that we're talking animals who like to bury dead stuff that they will dig it up later to eat.

And these well dressed dogs then spend most of their time isolated in small urban spaces (unless, of course, they go to "doggy day care" which has structured programs of entertainment for the canine sensibility...).

Is it just me, or is something really wrong here?