“Sobering” thoughts on The Hangover*

*I apologise for the bad pun. It was just too tempting.

In my review of The Hangover Part II I had a very, very restrained rant on how offensive I found a number of jokes in the film:

“I could spend a massive chunk of this review having a rant about how the writers seem determined to be as offensive as possible, but I’ll tone it down. You can look forward to animal cruelty, far too many gratuitous shots of male genitalia (because there’s nothing funnier than a small penis, apparently) and blindingly obvious xenophobia and homophobia. If that’s your cup of tea, fine – it’s not mine.”

The Hangover Part II

Theatrical poster for 'The Hangover Part II'

But I feel like I just can’t let it go. Here’s why.

The scene that bothered me more than anything else was the scene with “Kimmy” at a sleazy Bangkok strip club. It being Thailand – and, like, everybody totally knows that there are, like, millions of transvestites (“ladyboys”) in Thailand and they just want to have sex with the poor, unsuspecting tourists – Kimmy has a penis, as well as a massive pair of breasts. When the guys trace their way back to this strip club it emerges that Stu had consensual sex with Kimmy – which turned out to be receptive anal on his part. And, to Stu, having sex with another man is apparently the worst thing that has ever happened to him in his entire life. He freaks out completely, carrying on about how he made love to a man with “boobies” and *gasp* enjoyed it. This is supposed to be one of the squirm-inducing moments in a film where you laugh at the guy out of pity, glad it’s not you.

I didn’t laugh. I didn’t find it remotely funny. I found it hateful and outdated – and it just goes a long way to proving how extremely okay Hollywood is with homophobia.

Continue reading

Advertisements

A mini-rant on celebrity news haters

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries on this week's cover of People magazine. I don't think I need to tell you how successful this magazine actually is, do I?

Indulge me, if you will.

I regularly get comments on articles and Facebook posts and @ replies on Twitter in the same vein. Somebody will almost always, as if reading from a script – write “Who the fuck cares?”

Well, buddy… (I’m tempted to respond every.single.time but don’t because I have more important things to do) Millions and millions and millions of people across the entire world care. It’s why I have a job. It’s also why channels such as E! Online are so massively successful and generate so much money. It’s also the reason that celebrity gossip sites are some of the biggest on the Internet. Just because you don’t deem it newsworthy (which is your right), it doesn’t mean that it isn’t newsworthy, to somebody. Celebrity gossip articles are very, very regularly one of the top 10 most read stories on our entire portal. So, yeah, “Who the fuck cares?” is a pretty stupid question.

Aaaaand… If you don’t care (and you’re entitled not to care, by the way) then why, for the love of all things good and holy, do you click into the article, read through it, click on the “comment” button, write a comment and click submit?! I don’t care about, for example, car-related news. I don’t care and it doesn’t interet me, so I don’t read it and don’t leave comments.

Let me tell you a secret, you people who think you’re so rebellious by writing “Who the fuck cares?!” at the bottom of all of our celebrity gossip articles. We’re laughing at you. Hard. If you know anything about how online media works, you’ll know that one of the ways we measure the success of a story and generate advertising is through clicks. So – the minute you click on an article and comment, you effectively ensure that I get to do the job that I love for another day. And I thank you for that.

It still irks me, even though I’ve largely become used to the comments and the insults. I get told at least once a week that I publish “trash”, that what I write isn’t useful to anybody and that I practice “gutter journalism”. I’ve also been called a whore, a moron, an idiot, a blonde slut and a c**t. This week’s catch phrase was “incredibly snobby” (and I can work with that).

It’s the aggressive tone that irks me. It’s the fact that these people think that they’re so very, very much better than everybody else because they don’t find celebrity gossip interesting – and so they can be as rude to everybody else as they like. The anonymity of the Internet doesn’t help much, either. You can hide behind a name on a screen and swear as much as you like – and then turn around and scold your child for doing the exact same thing.

I work in entertainment. Sure, I will never, ever think that my article on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child is more important than the latest election results or the volcanic eruption in Iceland. But what my section is – what reading about Kim Kardashian’s engagement is – is escapism. Which we all need. Just for a minute. Something light and fluffy to remind ourselves that yes, the world has issues but there’s always space to hang out, breathe, and not deal with blood and death and destruction all day, every day.

And that is why I do what I do. Because my silly stories might brighten up someone’s day – and I’m perfectly happy with that.

Iconic Oprah moments

I wrote a 15 Great Oprah Moments piece for work – but here are MY favourite moments. Now, I don’t particularly like her (though I don’t really dislike her either) – but there’s no denying what she’s done for women in the industry. With the final ever episode airing in the States today (here in South Africa we’ll probably get the final episode in about 5 years time!) I decided to take a look back at some of the many, many moments that made Oprah Winfrey an icon.

America’s most racist town: In 1987, Oprah travelled out of her studio to Forsyth County in Georgia, where white residents had made it known for years that black people were not welcome. One man, Dennis, said he was “afraid” of blacks coming to the county. He also used the word “nigger” repeatedly as he spoke to her. Oprah was hailed for remaining calm at the meeting and not being drawn into responding. Years later, the man contacted Oprah – saying he was “the bearded man” from Forsyth – and told her that he no longer uses the word.  Defending his use of it, however, Dennis said, “I spoke from what I had lived and that’s all anybody can do.”

The Wagon of Fat: Oprah’s struggle with her weight has been famously documented. In 1988, Oprah tried “Optifast” – a fasting and supplement programme – which she thought would be her “final answer” to her diet battle. For four months she didn’t eat a single morsel of food – and dropped around 30kg to just under 66kg. She squeezed into a pair of tight jeans, pulling a wagon full of fat – representing the weight she had lost – onto the stage. However, two weeks after starting to eat real food again, she had picked up almost 5kg again. How she didn’t realise that the weight was going to spring straight back is beyond me – but I suppose it was the 1980s and dieting pretty much equalled starvation at that point.

Oprah and the Fat Wagon

Oprah and the Fat Wagon

An eye-opening experiment: I love this idea so, so much. I would have loved to have been there. In 1992, Oprah set up an experiment with diversity expert Jane Elliot to prove the power of discrimination. When the audience arrived for the taping, they were separated into two groups based on their eye-colour – although they weren’t told why they were split. The blue-eyed people were pulled out of line, told to put on green collars and were treated badly by show staff. The brown-eyed people were asked to step to the front of the line, given coffee and doughnuts and treated respectfully. The segregated audience was then told that brown-eyed people were smarter. The blue-eyed people were visibly upset at being discriminated against, while the brown-eyed people became smug and bought into the idea that they were superior. The idea behind the experiment – to prove how arbitrary judgements based on skin colour are, and how susceptible we are to prejudice and misinformation.

More after the jump…


Continue reading

Angelina vs. Jennifer. Let it go, guys. It’s over.

You know, it’s been six years. But there is always, always, always somebody who brings up the Jennifer Aniston vs. Angelina Jolie debate/feud/comparison/whatever.

The most recent was a reader on my site. On an article and poll on Angelina’s Cannes gown – where really, all you had to do was say whether or not you liked her outfit – a reader managed to wangle in the Jen-and-Angelina thing (Jengelina?). “Anistons toned body would have done greater justice to such an awesome dress [sic]”.

*facepalm*

And then I thought about it a little more. The media still makes SUCH a thing out of it. There are regular references to the Angelina-Brad-Jennifer triangle. And honestly, there probably will be references until the day they die.

Honestly, people were so moved by the situation that you would have thought that they were the ones that had been divorced. There are still people who call Angelina the “whore of Hollywood” – even though she’s been with the same man for the past six years. And we’re always talking about “unlucky-in-love Jennifer”… We cast these wonderful roles for them to play and we expect them to do so for the rest of their careers. It’s typecasting, really.

Why did we have to pick sides? Why do we assume that Brad was “tricked” into falling in love with Angelina, or believe that she ruthlessly seduced him? Why do we always cast Jennifer as the victim and Angelina as the villain? Surely the bad guy here is Brad? Still, after six years we refer to Angelina as the h0mewrecker where it appeared that Brad did a pretty good job of wrecking his home all by himself.

At the end of the day, he picked Angelina. Now can we move on and stop comparing the two (they’re hot in entirely different ways, can we not accept that?!) and feeling sorry for Jennifer (especially as she has said that it irritates her beyond belief).

Just call him The Sperminator

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger.

You can just call him “The Sperminator”.

Hands down the biggest celebrity gossip story of the week was the surprisingly unsurprising revelation that Arnold Schwarzenegger had fathered a child with his former housekeeper – effectively torpedoing one of the longest-surviving marriages in Hollywood.

Arnie’s illegitimate son, the tabloids took delight in reporting, was born just five days after the birth of his 13-year-old son with Maria Shriver. Amid the scandal, the Governator has announced that all of his planned movie and television work has been put on hold indefinitely – so that means a longer wait for the planned Terminator reboot.  Sorry guys, I know how excited you all were.

“Love children” are, of course, a Hollywood standard – and the tabloids love them*. Who can forget the shock to Gwen Stefani’s marriage after it emerged that her hubby, Gavin Rossdale, had fathered an illegitimate daughter with one of his best friends? Then there’s Liv Tyler, who famously grew up thinking one man was her father, then discovered she was actually the product of a wild fling with Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler. And, of course, that bastion of fatherhood, Michael Lohan. LiLo’s dad has a 13-year-old daughter, born from a fling outside his marriage.

I’d hardly call that list “good company”, but at least Arnie knows he’s not alone. But come now, Arnold, the housekeeper? That’s just passé.

But seriously now, how do you marry somebody as testosterone-fuelled as the Governator and not assume that he’s fucking everything that moves? He caused a mini-scandal in 2003 after it emerged that he’d been “groping” women left, right and centre – and I suppose after 25 years of his wife putting up with his shenanigans, Arnold must have assumed that, you know, she’d get over this one.

Although, a secret son is hardly the same as fondling a hot blonde or two, is it? Good on ya, Maria, for kicking him to the curb. Whether you reconcile with him or not is not my place to say – but hopefully he learns his lesson from this one.

 *As a matter of fact, so do I. When else are you allowed to use the phrase “born on the wrong side of the blanket” and still be cool? I’ve used it three times this week already. Four if you count this, and five or six if you count me telling people how I used such an epic phrase.

Put a sock in it, Steve.

Steve Hofmeyr

Steve Hofmeyr.

You know, I tried to let this go. And I know this story is a couple days old (wow, I’m such a new media journo – stories are “old” after a couple of hours and so a few days feels ancient!) but it’s been sitting in the back of my mind and I feel that I need to have my rant on the subject.

The story I refer to is this one, which can be summarised as follows: Steve Hofmeyr decided to include the word “kaffir” in one of his songs (incidentally dedicated to that other bastion of morality, tolerance and acceptance, former AWB leader Eugene Terre’blanche) because it’s a word that’s part of the Afrikaner heritage. His reasoning? If Julius Malema is allowed to sing Dubula Ibhunu (Shoot the Boer) then he’s allowed to use the “k”-word* in his songs.

Apart from the fact that today a judge upheld a ruling made last year – that the phrases “shoot the boer” and “kill the boer” are incitement to murder – making it illegal to sing these phrase, the complete and total petulance of Steve’s inclusion of the “k”-word in retaliation is… well, a little unbelievable.

The obvious problem is that he’s stooping to Malema’s level. The two of them together are like five-year-olds in the playground: “Well, he did it first!” screams Steve, while Malema retorts, “My daddy is more important than your daddy.”

Steve including the “k”-word in a song isn’t proving any sort of point – except reinforcing the fact that he’s likely to say the first thing that pops into his head if it’s going to a) get him publicity and therefore record sales and b) further his self-proclaimed standing as “champion of the Afrikaner”.

Yes, yes, I see how he thinks it’s making a point – if Malema and his cronies are allowed to sing racist and vengeful songs under the banner of “Well it’s a part of our struggle history”, then why can’t Steve and his bunch? As I’ve said, it’s childish – and in the long run, it achieves nothing else but to flare up old racial tensions that the majority of South Africans would rather put behind us.

We all know that Malema finds the easiest way to get (and keep) followers to play the race card in a big way – and by indulging in archaic, hateful rhetoric Steve is actually playing right into Malema’s hands. Because, really, what better poster child is there for the horrors of apartheid than a middle-aged Afrikaner calling black South Africans “kaffirs”?

Man up, Steve. Let the courts handle this one. Rather deal with Malema in a mature fashion, extending a hand in friendship and acceptance rather than cause unnecessary controversy – which you can’t deny, will help sell you records.

*If you know me, you know that I swear like a sailor. It’s not ladylike, I know. Deal with it. But there are two words even I think are totally awful and use in absolute moderation – the “k”-word and the “c”-word. Ugh.

New entries into the weird celebrity baby names canon

Jamie Oliver and family

Jamie Oliver and his interestingly-named family. Pic from INFdaily.com.

We’re all familiar with the old favourites… Pilot Inspektor, Audio Science, Moon Unit, Dweezil, Sage Moonblood and Fifi Trixibelle are often cited as examples of pure insanity when it comes to celebrities and their offspring.

But it seems that the desire among celebs to outdo their counterparts in the baby-naming stakes has by no means died down over the past few years. Welcome to the world, Mirabella Bunny, Bear Blue and Buddy Bear Maurice… Name change forms are included in your baby hamper.

Monroe and Moroccan

The Div[a]ine Ms Mariah Carey is famous for her attention-grabbing ways – and when “dem babies” finally decided to make their appearance, she tweeted hints as to her twins’ monikers. She eventually revealed her daughter’s name to be Monroe (after Marilyn Monroe, because apparently calling her ‘Marilyn’ would be too bland) and her son’s name Moroccan after… a room in her house. The Moroccan room. Poor kid.

Egypt

Keeping with the theme of naming babies after North African countries (seriously, what’s next? Libya? Tunisia? Algeria?), there’s Alicia Keys’ son, named Egypt Dauode Dean. Egypt, of course, after the country – Dauode being the Arabic form of the Hebrew David – and Dean being dad Swiss Beatz’ real surname.

Buddy Bear

One of two Bears to be welcomed to the world in recent months, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s infant son Buddy Bear Maurice joins sisters Daisy Boo, Poppy Honey and Petal Blossoom. There’s something particularly insane about naming your child after a catch phrase made famous by Tigger. “Hiya, buddy bear!” indeed.

Bear Blue

Alicia Silverstone – former Clueless star and first-time mom – obviously wanted something different for her child. Fair enough. I suppose we could be grateful that she didn’t go for the more grammatically correct “Blue Bear” – although Blue as a first name had already been nabbed by The Edge. Sigh, tough life.

Mirabella Bunny

The animal theme runs quite strongly in Tinseltown, it appears. Very new first-time dad Bryan Adams welcomed a baby girl to the world with his personal assistant, and the two christened their new arrival “Mirabella Bunny”. The best part? Mirabella was named after the Easter Bunny – because, like all good bunnies, she arrived on Good Friday, just in time for Easter. Good grief.