Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wonder Woman's "Bold New Look" is Both Old and Boring -- Why Do Modern Comics Readers and Creators Insist on De-Sexualizing Her?

Yahoo via Newsarama is reporting on Wonder Woman's new costume, which was apparently just announced yesterday.
Wonder Woman has a bold new look, one of the most dramatic changes of her 70-year history.
Here is the "bold new look":

Not sure what's supposed to be so "bold" about a mini jacket over a tight bustier, and long, tight, leather (?) pants. But then, what do I know?

Here is what I think is a bold look:

Anyway, contra the Christian Science Monitor, this is not the first time that Wonder Woman has been given "pants" by listless comic book creators. For awhile in the late 1960s-early 1970s, she had her powers taken away and was given normal clothes to wear:

The intention of this "new" Wonder Woman was to, um, empower women, or something.
"At the time, I thought I was serving a feminist agenda. I'm from a blue collar, St. Louis background." Comparing a human Diana Prince to Bruce Wayne, who perfected himself to become the Batman, O'Neil says, "I thought if she did something to earn her power, it would make her more admirable."

Scaling down Wonder Woman's powers was something [Editor and Writer Dennis] O'Neil thought would serve the story better. "The essence of melodrama is conflict. If you have a god-like being — and that includes Superman, the Flash, Green Lantern — it's very hard to put him in an interesting situation, even if the audience isn't conscious of [the power differential]. I like characters that are humanized. They give better storytelling tools, so I'm sure that when they asked me to do Wonder Woman, that's what was in my mind."
So Wonder Woman lost her powers and her amazing suit because the editor thought that would somehow be empowering.

It didn't take. Gloria Steinem, in the first issue of Ms. Magazine, but the "old" version of Wonder Woman on the cover of that magazine's first issue, which included an essay about the feminist qualities of the character.

Pretty soon Wonder Woman was back in that hot little suit that she's just had taken away again. And why? Well, the reasons seem awfully similar to those Dennis O'Neil had for depowering her in the 1970s. Back to the newsarama article:
"It's a look designed to be taken seriously as a warrior, in partial answer to the many female fans over the years who've asked, 'how does she fight in that thing without all her parts falling out?'" said incoming series writer J. Michael Straczynski.
Well, I can answer the question about how she fights "without all her parts coming out." She is a goddess. Her clothes don't act in the same manner as a standard human being. Human rules don't apply to her.

For crying out loud, her bracelets deflect bullets. When she ties you up in her lasso, you are compelled to tell the truth.

The editors at DC apparently aren't taking away Wonder Woman's powers, but they are totally demystifying her. That outfit they're dressing her in is the 2010 equivalent of the "mod" clothes she wore in the 1970s. They are the same types of clothes worn by women at certain Hollywood dinner parties. That is fine if your character is just some woman who attends certain Hollywood dinner parties.

But this is Wonder Woman. An Amazon princess. Why would she worry about what some repressed comic book fans think about her outfit? She plays by her own rules.

And, as I've already stated, those rules are awfully fetishistic in nature. When she was created in the 1940s, she was a bondage figure who often tied up and was tied up by her opponents. And, if they were female, she'd give them a kiss now and then.

It's unfortunate that modern comic book fans and creators are so much more repressed than the great creator of Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston. The man who said this,
"Give them an alluring woman stronger than themselves to submit to, and they'll be proud to become her willing slaves!"
Would no doubt be ashamed to see the way his creation has been turned into a sexless, dry, pedestrian nothing character, completely demystified -- all for the sake of pandering to a few comic book fans who just can't take the idea of a strong female character who likes what she likes and doesn't give a shit what other people think of her.

Of course, this is all an attempt to get a new costume out there for a potential movie franchise. Warner Bros has announced that the DC comics characters are to be their new "Harry Potters," with a new, expensive tentpole movie every year.

Megan Fox has already gone on record as saying that she thinks Wonder Woman is lame. So they're trying to hip the character up. By making her look as dull as possible -- downright matronly by comparison with that eagle-and-pentagram suit she was created with. She already kind of looks like one of the X-Men:

They gave her the same dark tights and jacket, added a red bustier. Seriously, how is that bustier supposed to be any better than her last bustier?

They've taken away the bondage and the kissing -- have comics fans now also become afraid of womens' legs?

Return Wonder Woman to her bondage roots! She was meant to tie up men and kiss her female antagonists!

Diana Prince as Wonder Woman cover pic source.
X-Men pic source.
Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman pic source.
DC Trinity cover pics source.
Ms magazine pic source.

Why Didn't "Knight and Day" Make Tons and Tons of Money its Opening Weekend? The LA Times Does Some Real Journalism to Find Out!

The new Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz movie "Knight and Day" has made what seems to me a respectable $29.5 million since opening last week. That's a lot more money than I've ever made for any of my films. I'd be happy with it.

But then, I'm not a big superstar like Tom Cruise or Cameron Diaz. So people are wondering why this movie opened so "disappointingly." It came in third against the new Pixar movie, "Toy Story 3" (I haven't seen this one yet, but I hear one of the new toys is a vibrator -- that kid is growing up!), and the new Adam Sandler movie "Grown Ups" (which also involves a vibrator in some way, probably).

It's probably just a case of people wanting to see the new Pixar movie, or wanting to see the new Adam Sandler movie, more than they want to see either Mr. Cruise or Ms. Diaz. That happens. I'm not going to go back over the histories of Pixar, Sandler, Cruise, or Diaz grosses. We are also going through a recession, and people are probably being more careful how they spend their "disposable income." If they're not highly motivated to see a film, they'll wait for the DVD, or cable showing. But that apparently isn't enough for Hollywood. There has to be some concrete reason, and it must relate directly to "Knight and Day."

So over at the Los Angeles Times, Patrick Goldstein is attempting to come to grips with this important question.
So it's no surprise that all of the industry buzz over the weekend has focused on the rocky opening for "Knight and Day," the supposed sure-thing romantic action comedy that did a belly flop at the box office, barely topping $20 million for the three-day weekend (giving it $27.8 million in five days of release).
Remember, this is the Los Angeles Times. This is the big, for-profit advertising delivery pamphlet for one of the largest cities in America. And in that paper, a movie that made $27.8 million in five days of release is said to have done "a belly flop."

That seems a bit harsh to me. Some context as to why $27.8 million in 5 days is considered a "belly flop" might be nice.

But there's no time for that -- the blame game begins in earnest:
In Hollywood, when a movie fails to open, the blame game begins in earnest. Many in the media thought the problem started with Cruise, who did tons of press for the film but couldn't pull moviegoers into the multiplexes. Many in the industry, including several people close to the film, were privately pointing fingers at Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman, who picked the movie's title, its release date and micromanaged its marketing campaign, down to approving stills and press kits for the film.

Also coming under fire was Tony Sella -- Fox's co-president of marketing, who is viewed as one of the best in the business -- for having done a poor job of positioning the $117-million film, the studio's third consecutive dud of the summer, after "Marmaduke" and "The A-Team."
Is it still a bit early for a journalist, writing in a newspaper, to declare a film a "dud," after only five days in release? Does this man have the ability to see the future? Who knows how much money this movie is going to make over the course of its theatrical run (domestic and foreign territories, where Mr. Cruise is still a very big star), its DVD run, pay-per-view run, pay cable run, broadcast run?

A "dud"? After five days? It's just too much fun to play the "blame game," than to do any actual thinking about what you're laying blame for. Even the journalists who write for the newspapers do it!
Those close to the film contend that the movie's title was off-putting to younger moviegoers, saying it evoked wheezy, 1980s-era action films like "Tango and Cash."
I think the title was pretty bad, actually. It should have been called "Knight and Daye," with one of the characters named "Tom Knight," and the other named "Cameron Daye." With an "e." That would have been more clever. "Knight and Day" is only half as clever as my suggestion.

But it could have been worse. They could have put an "ampersand" in the title. Whoever decided not to put one of those atrocious and irritated little squiggles in the middle of the title has my gratitude.
They were also surprised to see Fox running posters and outdoor advertising that didn't have any images of Cruise and Diaz, opting instead of silhouette style cutouts of the actors -- if you're going to pay multiple millions to movie stars, why not get your money's worth from using a sexy photo of their images in the campaign?
Do these people really believe that the poster confused people? "I ain't gon' see that there movie! It sez Mr. Cruise an' Ms. Diaz 'er th' stars, but I don' see ther' purty faces nowheres on th' poster!"

It wasn't the poster. The poster is actually kind of interesting, in a stylized sort of way.
Sella found himself in a classic marketer's quandary. He'd been running an offbeat campaign to make the film feel unique. But once the audience registered its confusion with his campaign, he found himself simplifying the message, which created a new set of problems. "Once we decided to change the message to be as literal as we could be -- to help moviegoers understand the film -- then people started to say, 'Oh, I've seen that movie before. It's 'Mr and Mrs Smith' or it's 'True Lies.' And that was exactly what we'd tried not to do, to make the movie feel like something you'd seen before."
The audience was "confused"? I'd like to see the actual reports on that. Why doesn't the journalist, Mr. Goldstein, bother to actually tell us about the tracking, instead of taking the Fox representative, who has a vested professional interest in making himself look good after (remember) three consecutive "duds"?

Is it that the audience was confused, or that they just didn't care? As Sella himself says, once they made the campaign less "offbeat," the audience started to say "Oh I've seen that movie before."

That is a pretty bad sign.

The Thin Man trailer. That is a daring campaign. Compare it to Knight and Day's trailer:

More bad signs from Mr. Sella:
"If you're over 40, this movie was a rock star -- the whole concept, the Nick and Nora of it all," says Sella. "It's a grown up film. That was the whole theory behind selling the film, that it was a cool, adult movie, hence the poster and the graphics behind it. We wouldn't have called it 'Knight and Day' if we weren't going for an adult audience. I guess that if I'm guilty of anything, it's that I always believed an adult movie could work, even in the summer."
The "Nick and Nora of it all"? As in Nick and Nora Charles, from The Thin Man movies? Is he serious? He's going all the way back to the 1930s to justify his 2010 marketing campaign?

If you're going to bring up the Thin Man to justify yourself, why not just go ahead and rip off the poster? It's a great one. And William Powell and Myrna Loy were not the massively popular stars that Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are.

I love the Thin Man movies (actually, I love Myrna Loy; the Thin Man movies are decent not great) but I am what you might call eccentric. Or idiosyncratic. If you're trying to appeal to me, you've probably lost your cause.

I swim outside the mainstream.

And how is calling it "Knight and Day" in any way supposed to show you're going for "an adult audience"?

And then that bit about being "guilty" of believing an "adult movie could work, even in summer." Was Mr. Sella shaking his head wearily as he uttered those tragic words?

For crying out loud it is the fault of the marketing! You are "guilty" Mr. Sella! You tanked this "rock star" "Nick and Nora" movie!

Why did the Fox marketing guy have to sully the sexy and witty and delightful Myrna Loy and the witty and urbane and delightful Mr. William Powell in his defense of his marketing techniques?

Knight and Day poster pic source.
Thin Man poster pic source.
Thin Man pic source.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Nickeolodeon Teams With the NFL to Create a Stadium Propaganda Cartoon Show

This might be the sleaziest idea for a television ever conceived. It's a show about how great NFL stadiums are!

I'm not kidding. USAToday has the story (via tvtattle):
The NFL announced a new partnership with Nickelodeon on Monday in which the two companies will create a new animated series based on the NFL.
"This new series combines fantasy, sports, game play, team work, competition and the age old theme of good vs. evil, under one compelling new narrative," Nicktoons general manager Keith Dawkins said.

The series, "Rush Zone: Guardians of the Core," will follow 10-year-old characters Ishmael as he attempts to save humanity when he learns the 32 NFL stadiums hold a benevolent life force that is under attack.
NFL stadiums hold a benevolent life force that is under attack?

The stadiums?

The stadiums.

The stadiums that cost taxpayers millions of dollars a year -- including those of us who could not give less of a shit about this rotten "sporting event"? Let's just take a look at one stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Indianapolis Colts play. Back in 2005, they made a deal with Indianapolis to keep the Colts in that fair city, and to build them a new stadium to replace the RCA Dome. How the deal was to be paid for:
• Hotel taxes: Marion County hotel tax increases to 9 percent from 6 percent. (This is in addition to the 6 percent state sales tax.)

• Car rental taxes: Marion County car rental tax doubles, to 4 percent.

• Restaurant taxes: Marion County doubles its food and beverage tax, to 2 percent. Meanwhile, neighboring suburban counties were asked to implement 1 percent restaurant taxes, giving half to the stadium and keeping the other half.

• Admissions tax: This tax, charged on Colts tickets, increases to 6 percent from 5 percent.
Paying more to spend the night in a hotel (and no, not everyone who stays in a hotel is from out of town), to eat out, to rent a car -- and not just in Marion, the county that is plagued by having an NFL team! No, surrounding counties were "asked" (really? they got to choose if they wanted to implement the tax?) to also increase their taxes so that the fabulously wealthy owners of a a football team could be bribed to not move to effing Los Angeles California.

Then, of course, the cost of the stadium has exceeded the estimates of the original deal. This happens a lot with stadiums, as it turns out.
The costs of operating Lucas Oil Stadium could leave the city with a budget hole twice as large as earlier projected.

Officials at the Capital Improvement Board, which operates the city's stadiums and convention center, plan to draw $25 million from reserves this year and in 2009, $20 million of which will go to higher stadium operating costs.

Previous estimates put the extra costs of running the new stadium at about $10 million. Lucas Oil Stadium, at 1.8 million square feet, is nearly double the size of the soon-to-be-imploded RCA Dome, so its higher operating costs aren't surprising. It needs more people to work on its cleaning crews, with its food vendors and in parking. Its water and electricity costs are higher, too. CIB officials weren't able to provide numbers on how many more game-day workers are needed, but the full-time staff has increased by 52 employees.

With the higher costs, CIB budgets for this year and next show the agency's operating fund balance dwindling to $5.6 million next year.

Officials anticipate that an expanded Indiana Convention Center - expected by late 2010 - and the new business it attracts eventually will help cover the CIB's operating costs.

But if those new revenues fall short, the CIB's reserves could be wiped out.

CIB Chairman Bob Grand said he is concerned about the rapid depletion of reserves and how the CIB will cover expenses in 2010. Two years ago, CIB officials said they were confident a solution would be found, but the size of the projected gap has only widened.

"We're making guesses until we have actual numbers," Grand said. "We're bleeding cash right now, absolutely."
Bleeding cash and "deep in debt."
Financial and political experts said Monday that Lucas Oil Stadium is running a significant operating deficit in its first year.

The stadium is believed to be between $20 million and $35 million in the red, but political leaders said they want to see the actual numbers before taking any action, 6News' Rick Hightower reported.

The construction of the building was funded by taxpayers in Marion and surrounding counties with a food and beverage tax.
[Noblesville Republican Senator Luke] Kenley said lawmakers expected some shortfall, but not an estimated $20 million. He and others want to see the real numbers before reacting.
Wait -- they expected a shortfall? They expected to not have the money to cover the deal, yet they made the deal anyway?

Are they effing serious? Read that again. This is a state lawmaker admitting that the government made a deal with the Colts (runners-up for last year's "super" bowl) to build a stadium, and they expected there would not be enough money to pay for it?

And this was before the recession that no one predicted!

Goddammit I hate professional sports and this is exactly why. We are all paying to finance these stadiums and the costs keep going up up up on every single one of them.

Of course, the head of the government organization charged with running the stadium wanted a "bailout" to prevent the stadium closing.
The head of the Indianapolis Capital Improvement Broad said Friday that if a deal isn't reached on a $47 million bailout bill it's possible Lucas Oil Stadium may close.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill Thursday that would raise several taxes, including those on alcohol statewide, restaurant meals and hotel stays in Marion County and tickets to sporting events in Indianapolis to bail out the organization that manages the city's professional sports facilities.
You'll note that in the original deal it was Marion county that got hit with most of the tax hikes. For the "bailout," they want to extend some of those tax hikes to the entire state.

As it was, the government cut arts funding to help subsidize the stadium.
The Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board voted yesterday to start plugging its $47 million a year operating deficit by suspending all grants to arts and tourism groups. The CIB also voted to look at renegotiating its union contracts and selling some of its assets.
How does Nickelodeon feel about an NFL stadium cutting into ARTS FUNDING? Is Nickelodeon into that?

Does Nickelodeon really believe that there is some benevolent life force (what do you think that "benevolent life force" really is? concussions? steroids?) that lives inside Lucas Oil Stadium that must be protected, even to the point of eliminating FUNDING FOR THE ARTS?

Are they next going to raise money by kicking small children in the stomachs? Is there money in evicting little old granny ladies from their homes in the dead of winter?

Way to go, Nickelodeon. You suck ass.

For more terrible stadium stories, check out Field of Schemes.

Competing Batman Porn Parodies -- With an Exclusive Image!

There is a retired tennis player called Jennifer Capriati who recently suffered an overdose of prescription medicine and is being treated at a hospital in southern Florida.

It's a sad story, I suppose. But it wouldn't really have registered on my radar if it weren't for the porn angle.

Jennifer Capriati in 2004, when she was apparently still dating Mr. Dabone.

Ms. Capriati's ex-boyfirend, a man called Dale Dabone (no doubt of the Hampton Dabones) went to the trouble of contacting TMZ to help them get as much detail as possible regarding Ms. Capriati's troubles.
Jennifer Capriati's ex-boyfriend says he believes two big things went down in her life that caused her to accidentally OD on prescription drugs -- his return to porn and her depression over tennis.
DaBone claims Jen got horribly depressed every time a grand slam event went down. Interestingly, the OD occurred Sunday, during the time Wimbledon was on. Jen would always complain she was forced out of tennis because of injuries and began taking prescription meds.
The article states that Mr. Dabone and Ms. Capriati dated from 2003-2009. That is a long time to date anyone, let alone a professional tennis player. Or a porn star. But they're no longer dating, so why does Mr. Dabone think that his return to porn helped drive his ex over the edge?

Maybe he has a new film to promote?
But there's something else that DaBone says sent Jen on a downward spiral -- his recent return to porn ... something Jen despised. DaBone signed on with Vivid Entertainment to star in "Batman XXX: A Porn Parody."
This Vivid Entertainment production is, I suppose, not to be confused with another Batman porn parody I wrote about on April 5th -- BatF*cks Dark Knight. That one stars Nick Manning, Madelyn Marie, and is produced by Bluebird Films, not Vivid Entertainment.

This means there are two competing Batman porn parodies. (I am shocked that two different pornographic film companies would make essentially the same film -- and about a man who dresses up in skin tight clothes and prances around with women in latex!) And Vivid, which is clearly behind Bluebird, needed to do something to get the word out about its production. So they hired Mr. Dabone, who called TMZ, and -- well, how do you think that conversation went down?

"Hey, TMZ. I'm Dale Dabone. No, I'm not from the Hamptons; why do you ask? Anyway, I just read on your site that my ex-girlfriend J-Cap OD'd, and I thought you'd like to know that I was part of the perfect storm that caused it... Yeah, a perfect storm. The first part of the storm was that Wimbledon was going on, and she gets depressed about grand slam events. The second part of the perfect storm was that I just signed on to star in Vivid Entertainment's upcoming Batman XXX: A Porn Parody... No, you're thinking of the Bluebird movie. This one is totally different. Ours has the words "porn" and "parody" right there in the title, so there's no confusion. Anyway, I'm coming out of retirement and I think it helped send J-Cap over the edge. She's probably anticipating all the great action that you'll see only from Vivid's latest porn masterpiece. You know, no other company puts together the hottest action the way Vivid does. Anyway, just thought you'd like to know that I, Dale Dabone, will be coming out of retirement to appear in Vivid Entertainment's latest, Batman XXX: A Porn Parody... Sure, I can send you out a copy when it's released. What's your address?"

Probably something like that. Anyway, here's an exclusive image from Vivid's Batman XXX: A Porn Parody:

 If the above image is to be believed, Vivid Entertainment is going even more fetishistic than usual in its new Batman XXX: A Porn Parody.

Jennifer Capriati pic source.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Hero, Kenny Strasser AKA K-Strass, Strikes Again

Kenny Strasser, AKA "K Strass", has struck yet again. This time, it was a local TV station in Wisconsin.

"Do you want to hear a scary story?"

What I find especially delightful about this is that for some reason this K-Strass yo-yo segment was supposed to tie in with "the importance of being green and environmentally friendly."

Congratulations, station in Wisconsin. You've just single-handedly discredited all television news coverage of the "green movement" and being "environmentally friendly." Seriously, if the people who run these local news stations can't be bothered to do a simple google search of this guy, and present him on the air as a yo-yo expert, why should you be trusted with anything? Are you going to be able to cover real, important stuff, like the cap and trade bill? Windmills? Solar energy? The Gulf Oil Spill? Will you be able to cover those things with any credibility whatsoever?

He is a known prankster. He is a performance artist. He is making you all look like fools. Because you are fools!

You fools!

As I wrote back in May of this year (he's been pranking these stations all year and they still haven't caught on!),
Kenny Strasser is more than just a great performance artist. He is a great American. Thank you, K Strass, for exposing television news for the cesspool of incompetence that it is! You're my hero for the week!
And because local news stations still haven't caught on, Mr. Strasser has been named my hero for the week an unprecedented second time in the same year!

Actually, when you think about it, it's kind of sad. TV news really, really sucks.

But long live K-Strass!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Poodle Bitch Wonders Why the Phrase "Crazed Sex Poodle" Would Be Considered an Insult

Poodle Bitch has led a relatively sheltered life. She has had most of her needs taken care of (she could stand to have more tomato slices now and again, and she sometimes wonders why it is the humans won't go to McDonald's more often for those chicken sandwiches she likes to much -- they are only $1 apiece, after all) and she has only a few times been attacked by another creature.

Most of these attacks, Poodle Bitch will admit, were from small human children attempting to pet her. Poodle Bitch does not like to be petted, most of the time. She prefers proximity to actual touching.

The one time she ever felt truly threatened, when a boorish "great" dane bit her on the bottom and lifted her bodily into the air, Poodle Bitch squealed, growled, called the creature a filthy name, and she was released.

Poodle Bitch was thinking of her rather harrowing encounter when she read of a massage therapist's claim that former vice president Al Gore had attacked her.
In her detailed Jan. 8, 2009, statement to a Portland sexual assault investigator, the woman said she was called to the hotel about 10:30 p.m. Oct. 24, 2006, to provide a massage for Gore, who was registered under the name "Mr. Stone." Once inside his ninth-floor suite, she said he pushed her hand to his groin, fondled her buttocks and breasts, tongue-kissed her and threw her down on the bed as she tried to thwart his advances.

Poodle Bitch wonders if Mr. Gore's full nom de hotel is "Dick Stone". Otherwise she will not make light of this situation. Anyone who has been attacked knows that it is an unnerving and difficult experience. We also know that politicians attack human women on occasion.

Poodle Bitch has no idea if Mr. Stone is guilty of the crime of which he has been accused, she hastens to add.
Portland police spokeswoman Detective Mary Wheat said police didn't go to the hotel or talk to the woman's friends because it wouldn't help prove or disprove the woman's allegations.

"We're not disputing Al Gore was in the hotel room with this woman," Wheat said. "The two people in that room were Mr. Gore and this woman. If a bellhop came in and saw something, that would be different."

Poodle Bitch now has to wonder if this is standard operating procedure in any case of an alleged attack on a human woman. Do police not investigate when a human woman claims to be a victim of unwanted fondling and throwing upon a bed?

Poodle Bitch wonders, since the police do not dispute that Mr. Stone, who was apparently Mr. Gore, was in the room with the massage therapist, did any of them talk to Mr. Gore about the allegations?

From her own experience dealing with "law enforcement authorities" after her attack at the maw of the "great" dane, Poodle Bitch can tell you that they can often be unresponsive and disbelieving.

In other words, although Poodle Bitch has already hastened to add that she has no way of knowing what happened in that hotel room, Poodle Bitch's sympathies were with the human woman.
That's when, she says, Gore wrapped her in an "inescapable embrace" and fondled her back, buttocks and breasts as she was trying to break down her massage table.

She called him a "crazed sex poodle" and tried to distract him, pointing out a box of Moonstruck chocolates on a nearby table. He went for the chocolates and then offered her some, cornering her, fondling her and shoving his tongue in her mouth to french kiss as he pressed against her.

Poodle Bitch likes the turn of phrase "inescapable embrace," she might use it in a poem. What she does not like is the phrase "crazed sex poodle."

Poodle Bitch wonders if this is intended to be an insult?

She understands that, during an attack (and if such an attack occurred), the victim often responds not with cold logic but with uncontrollable emotions. You don't have time to think, merely to react. As the massage therapist says later in her statement, "I was distressed, shocked and terrified."

"Crazed sex poodle"?

Not a poodle.

Poodle Bitch cannot understand why the human massage therapist came up with that. To her knowledge, poodles are not known for their particular sexual proclivities. They are certainly not golden retrievers (yes, "crazed sex golden retriever" would have been a much more appropriate insult). Poodles are known for their intellect.

Perhaps the woman was praising Mr. Gore's intelligence, while at the same time chastising him for the sexual assault?

Poodle Bitch finds this difficult to believe given the rest of that sentence: "and tried to distract him, pointing out a box of Moonstruck chocolates on a nearby table." She believed (and if her statement is to be believed, rightly so) that Mr. Gore could be distracted from committing sexual assault by chocolates.

Does that sound like a smart man -- a man with the intellect of a poodle -- to you?

Poodle Bitch also notes that the massage therapist's statement contains at least two examples of product placement (Grand Marnier, Moonstruck chocolates). Then, there was the mention of the singer Pink.
Later, she said, he tried to lure her into the bedroom to hear pop star Pink's "Dear Mr. President" on his iPod dock. She said Gore sat on one end of the bed and motioned for her to join him.

Poodle Bitch could be acerbic here and state that this is further proof that Mr. Gore is no poodle. Anyone with taste and intelligence would not like Pink, and certainly wouldn't use her music as a lure for anything other than, perhaps, "great" danes.

But Poodle Bitch is not acerbic.

She does not know what to think about the entire episode. She did find something especially sad in the woman's statement, however:
The therapist later told detectives she did not call the police because she was afraid she wouldn't be believed. "I deeply feared being made into a public spectacle and my work reputation being destroyed," she said.

As it was, she said, even friends of hers who had voted for Gore didn't necessarily support her. She did call the Portland Women's Crisis Line, which encouraged her to call police.

Poodle Bitch has nothing particular to say about the accuser being made a public spectacle. She understands that there are false accusations of sexual assault made against human men on a troublingly regular basis.

What bothers Poodle Bitch is that the massage therapist's friends didn't support her. Poodle Bitch (who admits once again that she has had a relatively sheltered life) had come to believe that that was what friends were for. Support.

One needs support from friends, because those who don't know you in the media can and will attack you in such a case. As the website Jezebel points out,
We're all for the benefit of the doubt, and no doubt about it, the new allegations against Al Gore are weird. But when you see blame-gaming reactions, is it any wonder why so many victims don't want to come forward?

Jezebel notes that tired novelist and boring npr host Kurt Andersen has already taken to attacking the accuser in a particularly heartless way. At twitter, no less, he offered the following wisdom:
You professionally rub naked flesh & call the *cops* about an untoward request? Then clam up--but call the cops again 2 years later? Cuckoo.

Poodle Bitch did not realize that massage therapists were sex workers who were expected to provide "happy endings" to all their clients. She also didn't realize that there was generally a time table for claims of sexual assault ("untoward request"), and that waiting too long to report such a crime was considered by humans to be "cuckoo." Or, as the author at Jezebel puts it:
This is, of course, the appropriate reaction: out of hand dismissal, besmirching of accuser's character and a scramble for reasons to not believe that a man whose environmental policy you admire is capable of such actions.

Poodle Bitch cannot stress this enough: She has no way of knowing what happened in that hotel room. She knows that famous and even non-famous human men can and have been wrongly accused of sexual assault, and those allegations can devastate their lives. But she wonders why it should be that for some people, the first response is to attack the accuser before all, or indeed any, facts are in.

And, poodles are not sex-crazed.

Al Gore photo source.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Work of Art": The Greatest Television Show Since Salvador Dali Appeared on "What's My Line?"

Art is about commoditification. I think I just made up that word, but I mean the turning of ideas into commodities. The process by which art is created is so shrouded in mystery to the layperson (and there is an entire industry that's been built up that has a vested financial interest in promoting that mystery shroud) that even the very word "art" conjures images of the lone figure struggling in the dark recesses of his own mind to create something, anything to give some kind of tangible substance to the roiling emotions he feels. Also, artists are a little bit nutty. Because, you know, they see the world differently than the rest of us.

Except, of course, the art world is just like every other entertainment field. It is about salesmanship and self-promotion. It always has been. And artists understand that. They always have.

Have you ever been to the Louvre? It's a museum in Paris, France. Maybe you read about it in The DaVinci Code. They have a lot of art there. Almost all of it was created by very talented artists. And almost all of those artists were talented in many areas, be they painting, sculpture, drawing, or self-promotion.

Typical Louvre painting.

There is an art to self-promotion.

For every one of those artists at the Louvre, there are an unknown number who were just as talented at painting or sculpture, perhaps even moreso, who toiled away in obscurity because they lacked the shamanstro of the carnival barker.

Take, for instance, Salvador Dali. Talented painter? Yes. Talented self-promoter? Yes, with an exclamation point! Some might argue that he was an even better self-promoter than painter. That his eccentric persona was actually a carefully cultivated pose, designed to capitalize (i.e., make money) off the layperson's idea of what an artist should be.

Check out this video from when Mr. Dali appeared on the television show "What's My Line?" in oh some time in the 1950s.

What separates the artist from the reality show contestant is the specific talent of the artist. The artist must be more well-rounded, because s/he must have created something. Then s/he can promote himself. The reality show contestant skips the creation of artifacts and goes straight into the self-creation/self promotion.

In other words, the reality show contestant is more efficient. But the artist hopefully is creating something that will last, long after the personality has faded from memory. People still visit the Louvre, and they examine the artwork there. Maybe they have no idea who created what, or what those artists did to ensure their place in the world of art.

Which brings me to the new Bravo reality competition "Work of Art." The idea of using a competitive reality show format to find "The Next Great Artist" has been widely criticized by people who have a vested financial interest in maintaining the illusions about the art world.

These people are snobs. They think they're above the very game they're playing. "Art" cannot be created on a deadline! It is much too personal, the muse is too fickle, to be subject to the rules of reality television shows!

This attitude was exemplified by one of the contestants on the show, the smug elitist installation artist Trong. In last week's episode, the artists had to create something using discarded televisions, radios, computers, and other electronic devices and equipment. Trong's artwork showed three small televisions arranged around one larger television (and for some unexplained reason painted white) -- as if the TVs were watching TV! -- and on the screens of each television were witticisms such as "UP NEXT... WWTFD?" (Which, as Troug informed the judges, stood for "What Would Tom Friedman Do?") and "I HATE REALITY TV!"

 Smug and boring.

Trong -- were you kidnapped and forced to submit your artwork and audition tape for consideration to appear on the show? Were you then forced to audition for the show? Then were you forced to go through the casting and background check process? Did someone have a gun to your head when you did all the promotional material? Why did you submit yourself to two challenges, if you hate reality TV?

Art is personal, after all. It's a reflection of the artist's true feelings. Which means that Trong is a hypocrite.

But he's an artist!

The best part of the show was when sleep-deprived installation artist Miles called Trong out, calling his WWTFD piece "boring." He was right, of course. Self-loathing really is boring, especially if it's someone else's.

If you're going to be on a reality show, commit. Miles has committed. Two weeks in a row, he was declared the winner, and both times he deserved it. His "death portrait" of Nao in the first week was actually far more interesting than the subject matter, and his "uncomfortable bed" in week two was like a desperate cry for help. It really was personal, and created on a deadline, with immunity at stake.

The only problem I had with last week's judging was when one of the judges, gallery co-owner Bill Powers, complained that Miles' use of two sculpted assholes was overkill. You can never have too many assholes in art. If anything, Miles should have lined the "bed" with a ring of assholes, but that's just my personal opinion.

 Those are concrete assholes on either side of the bed. Is two one too many? No! Not enough, I say!

I may not know art, but I know assholes when I see them.

Anyway, I was glad to see Trong sent packing. Pussy-lover Judith probably deserved to go home just based on the lack of technique and focus (Trong's piece at least had a recognizable point of view, even if that point of view was smugness), but there is no place for hypocrisy in art. Right?

China Chow knows a lot about art, which is why she got her job hosting "Work of Art."

This week, the almost impossibly attractive host China Chow invited the artists to draw paint tubes on which were written abstract concepts like "love" and "good vs. evil." The artists are then told they will have to create covers for classic books featuring those concepts as themes -- "monster" turns out to be Frankenstein, "love" is for Pride and Prejudice, "time travel" is for The Time Machine, "adventure" for Alice in Wonderland, "good vs. evil" is Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and "immortal" is Dracula.

Kathryn Court from Penguin Books comes out to explain the importance of book covers.

Wait a second -- was Trong right? Do we really need someone to tell us about how important book covers are, after watching the contestants draw paint tubes with words on them?

The winning design will get published as the cover of an actual Penguin Book. That is a pretty good prize, and I think that most artist would welcome such a thing.

Artists are in competition with one another anyway. There are only so many book covers -- many more artists than book covers -- so why not give this as a prize on a reality show?

In his interview, Ryan states, truthfully, that "as an artist, it's about visibility. That's the most important thing." He then blows it by offering some trite observations about "the duality of man" (he has to do a cover for Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde), a phrase I don't think I've used since, well, probably since I was Ryan's age (he's 26).

Miles, who has or claims to have OCD, times how long it will take him to read his book (Frankenstein), and decides to spend four of the eight hours allotted him reading the book.

That is dedication. None of the other artists bother to read their books, nor have they ever read their books (Except for Erik, who has read Alice in Wonderland, which is a very entertaining book by the way). Moreover, Frankenstein is a mind-bendingly dull novel. At least the version that Mary Shelley wrote. Percy Shelley's original version is full of really wonderful poetic language and vivid descriptions.*

But Jaclyn does him one better, deciding to do a semi-nude photoshoot for her cover. You can tell that she's never read Pride and Prejudice before. No one gets naked in that book; I know, I skimmed it. It's most just people misunderstanding each other and conforming to rigid social mores.

Jaclyn, however, is quite physically attractive, so a semi-nude photoshoot for the cover of Pride and Prejudice makes total sense in this context.

Jaclyn, the artist who isn't afraid to get semi-nude for the cover of a book she hasn't read.

Judith, who says "I'm a fine artist" (a debatable point based on what we've seen so far), thinks that this assignment feels too much "like a job," and doesn't like it. She decides to rebel against it by creating something typical of her (no) style. This is the woman who does pussy pictures, remember. Cute little cats with the word "pussy" somewhere in the picture.

These she sells. For money.

Having finished reading Frankenstein, Miles returns from his makeshift darkroom raving about how great it is. He can't believe it is so good. And she wrote it when she was nineteen!* Tbe scene that made the greatest impression on him? A description of lightning striking a log. Miles decides to burn a piece of wood by starting an electrical fire.

At this point, Work of Art's Tim Gunn, Simon De Pury, comes in to offer the wisdom gathered from his oh I don't know 40 years as an art dealer and collector. He's actually kind of a charming man with a European accent ("I aum veeree veeree keen to see ow yeou are attackeen yoeu sird schalleeng!") and I'd probably like him more if he weren't such a blatant rip-off of the greatest reality show personality ever, the gracious and intelligent Tim Gunn.

John's Time Machine piece is too abstract, he says. Of Peregrine's Time Machine cover, he gently, in that subtle manner that so many Europeans claim to have, tries to get her to admit her cover is too cluttered. He asks Jaclyn if she's read Pride and Prejudice. No, but she read a synopsis. He seems at a loss regarding her rather provocative semi-nude picture and asks her what kind of font she's thinking of using for the title. Really; that is his big insight. Anyway, the bizarre question flusters Jaclyn, who says she will use something "modern classic." "Well, keep eet ooup," Simon says. Jaclyn interviews about wanting to capture "the relationship between Elizabeth and Darby."

"Darby"? Really? I didn't think there was a woman alive, anywhere in the world, that didn't know that Pride and Prejudice was about the complicated relationship between Elizabeth and Colin Firth.

Of photoshop master Mark's Dracula cover he says, "You have somseeng eentreegeen. My feeleen ees yoeu ar haffweay sere, actuaallee." And of the covers we've seen so far, his is far and away the best.

Judith, also doing Pride and Prejudice, can't really explain how her fingerprint floral design relates to the contents of the book. She mutters something vague about gardens, or something, then says she's thinking about making the title difficult to read by reversing the letters, or something.

If it's not about pussy, Judith just seems lost. That, and she's talking to herself. And the cover she creates consists of the words "pride" and "prejudice" spelled backwards (curiously, "and" is spelled properly), and at the bottom the words "Jane" and "Austen."

 A bad idea poorly executed! Fine artist Judith is two-for-two.

After the gallery show, China Chow asks Judith what language her painting is in. Ms. Chow is good-looking I mean intelligent enough to know that those words were spelled backward, she's just being withering.

"I'm a fine artist," Judith says. "I don't design on assignment." Borrowing from Trong's playbook. It's interesting that Judith, the oldest of the artists, and Trong, who was I believe the second oldest of the artists, are the ones with the out-dated attitudes toward "art" and "culture."

This is the way the world is. The artist needs to be nimble of mind. The artist needs to be willing to adapt. Unless Judith's attitude is performance art (she hasn't really demonstrated that she's capable of such subtlety or skill), then it makes no sense.

But at least Judith spelled Jane Austen's name correctly. Jaclyn spelled it "Austin," like the city in Texas. Also, she took a semi-hot semi-nude photo of herself and turned into a dull as dishwater wash.

Peregrine's Time Machine cover was the other to make the bottom. Guest judge Jonathan Santlofer called it "wallpaper," while Jeanne Greenberg-Rohatyn demonstrated her lack of understanding of speculative fiction by saying Peregrine's work "doesn't read as sci-fi." That is an illiterate statement -- The Time Machine is speculative fiction, or science fiction. It is most definitely not "sci-fi." Star Wars and Star Trek are "sci-fi."

You see? I can be a smug snob, too, about some things.

Surprisingly, John's Time Machine cover is declared the winner. That image looks like it came from a "sci-fi" paperback novel from 1974. I suppose that could be considered appropriate for a novel about time travel. Or it might be considered out-dated.

The cover itself is sort of like a "time machine" back to the 1970s. It's very meta.

Anyway, which is worse -- misspelling the name of the author, or printing the title of the novel backwards? Title backwards! Pussy lover Judith is sent home.

"Maybe I didn't belong in this situation, you know, away from my own process," she interviews.

Yes, by all means, get back to your process. It's so difficult for the hoi polloi to understand. We'll get back to our reality television, and forget you ever existed.

*Ha, ha!

Gabrielle d'Estrees and one of her sisters in the bath painting pic source.
China Chow pic source.
Jaclyn Santos pic source.
Work of Art art pic source.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Could YOU Get Through Airport Security Wearing The Outfit Lady GaGa Fell In?

TMZ is reporting that Lady GaGa fell while walking through Heathrow airport on Wednesday. This is apparently big news.

Looking like the illegitimate love child of Axl Rose, Madonna and Marilyn Manson, attention whore Lady Gaga bit it big time while unsuccessfully maneuvering through Heathrow airport in a pair of sensible leather chaps and comfy transatlantic travel platform boots on Wednesday.

She is literally a fashion victim.
Ha, ha. Get it? "Fashion victim"?

Of course TMZ has missed the point of this entirely. Try to imagine if you or I, average people who are not fabulously wealthy or famous, wore such an outlandish outfit to the airport. Would we even make it through security?

Would we have to take our platform shoes off? Could we wear a bandanna? What about those sunglasses? That belt?

This is at a time when people are being told by (British) airport security to turn their t-shirts inside out because they have potentially controversial slogans. Or being told to remove a t-shirt because it has a cartoon character holding a cartoon gun.

In America (which was where I assume Ms. GaGa's flight originated) women sometimes get felt up by airport security. Do you think that happened to Ms. GaGa? Does she have any piercings? If so, did she have to remove them, the way this woman was forced to remove her nipple piercings? Those leather chaps look an awful lot like leg braces. TSA agents in Philadelphia forced a 4 year-old child to remove his leg braces before he could get on a flight to Orlando.

Moreover, when she shows her passport to the TSA person, does it say "Lady GaGa"? Does she have to remove said sunglasses and bandanna, or is she wearing those in her photograph?

Look for the real story, TMZ!

Oprah Winfrey Believes Zach Anner Did Something to Deserve Cerebral Palsy

Oprah Winfrey, probably the most powerful human being in the entertainment industry, has a cable network called OWN which is apparently so hard up for material/hosts that they are hosting an online competition to find new on-air talent.
Oprah and reality TV super producer Mark Burnett (SurvivorTM & The ApprenticeTM) are joining forces in search of the next big TV star. Do you have a big personality and a big dream for yourself? This could be your BIG BREAK - the chance of a lifetime to host your own TALK show...on OWN. If you think you have "IT" - upload your video audition or go to an open casting call. You can also help decide who wins - keep coming back right here to view auditions and vote for your favorites.
One of those "favorites" that "YOU" are voting for is a very charming, funny young man called Zach Anner. Mr. Anner has cerebral palsy, and is pitching a show that would take a humorous look at travel from the perspective of a differently abled person whose vacations don't always go as planned.

That's a good idea for a show. It helps that Mr. Anner is, as I've already mentioned, charming and funny. If you don't believe me, watch his pitch by following the link in the paragraph above, or if you feel uncomfortable leaving the safe confines of this blog, I've embedded from YouTube here:

His YouTube page has some other rather enjoyable videos, which you can view here.

Anyway, Mr. Anner is winning in a landslide, kind of. He was winning the online voting for awhile, then someone called Dr. Phyllis was in the lead, and then Mr. Anner retook the lead again.

So far, that doesn't sound suspicious. The internet is a harsh mistress. One day you're on top of the world, and the next day you're lagging behind Dr. Phyllis.

Watch Mr. Anner's try out, then take a look at Dr. Phyllis's by following the link in the paragraph above. Or, if you're uncomfortable leaving the safe confines of my blog, just stay here and don't watch it. You're better off.

She wants to do a show about teachers! Teachers have interesting lives and we should all learn more about them. They're so dedicated to their students, who apparently carry guns to school. Or something. This is what Dr. Phyllis says. She also insults one of her students' parents. Her students are gun-toting thugs with ugly parents! Sounds hilarious, doesn't it? Ready to watch her yet?

In fairness, I'm not exactly sure what she said. The try-out was unfocused and irritating. She is one of those annoyingly perky and pretentiously down-to-earth type people that should not be trusted.

Some people speculate that there is chicanery around the voting. For instance, YouTube user f0nz0man has suggested that Ms. Winfrey is rigging votes against Mr. Anner, in the provocatively titled video entry, "Oprah Rigs Votes Against Zach Anner":

Because f0nz0man mentions it in his video, I'll explain the reference to the racist-penised John Mayer. Mr. Mayer was apparently so moved by Mr. Anner's video that he took to YouTube to post his own video in support of him. That video can be viewed here, if you feel like leaving the safe confines of my blog to watch it. I don't feel like embedding it here.

Now the website Geek O System has an entry in which they suggest, in more detail than f0nz0man, that the voting might be rigged.
[Zach Anner] has become an internet sensation via 4chan and Reddit, and for a week up until June 22 was the strong front-runner.

But in the span of an hour around or just before 3pm EDT, the woman who had been trailing Anner for some time, Doctor Phyllis, took the lead. And she did so at what sounds to be an unbelievable rate. The Huffington Post reports an increase of 300,000 votes in 20 minutes. Reddit reports 600,000 in an hour. Either way, the voting rates being bandied around are astounding, corroborate with what many Internet denizens who have been following the proceedings saw, and justly aroused suspicion.
The rest of Geek O System's entry has lots of code and technical mumboese that I don't fully understand, so I encourage you to follow the link if you're interested enough to leave the safe confines of my blog to find out more about this developing scandal.

What I want to talk about is much more important than whether or not Ms. Winfrey is rigging the votes to give the annoying Dr. Phyllis a leg up on the cerebral palsy-stricken Mr. Anner. Possible vote-rigging is beside the point.

You see, Oprah Winfrey believes that people with cerebral palsy did something to deserve it. As I so eloquently noted back on April 13th of this year, Ms. Winfrey has used the platform of her massively popular daytime talk show to promote a hateful piece of pseudoscience called "The Secret."
The Secret makes claims that go well beyond such prosaic self-help advice as writing down your goals, keeping a daily success journal and tackling your fears head-on. The Secret claims that science has discovered mysterious forces at work in the cosmos that when properly tapped can unleash unimaginable wealth, happiness and success.

That force is called the "law of attraction." Like attracts like. Positive thoughts sally forth from your body as magnetic energy, then return in the form of whatever it was you were thinking about. Like money. Byrne and her success sycophants think a lot about money. "The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts," we are told.
You don't need science to prove The Secret is codswallop--just a modicum of thinking. If wealth and poverty are the result of nothing more than our thoughts, should we blame those poor starving Zimbabweans for being just a bunch of pessimistic sourpusses? And what about the victims of Auschwitz? If the law of attraction is true, then every oppressed, enslaved or exterminated group in history had it coming. That idea is beyond wrongheaded--it's evil.
Yep. Oprah Winfrey believes in "The Secret." And she believes that Zach Anner must have done something to deserve his cerebral palsy.

Ms. Winfrey devoted a lot of time on her show to promoting this evil codswallop. In fact, her website still, after all this time, promotes it.
No matter any criticism for The Secret , Oprah says she still believes it's valuable. "I'm grateful that for so many millions of people the door was at least opened to the idea that we are each responsible for the quality of our lives," she says. " The Secret was really just the beginning."
That is still up on her website today, June 23rd.

So, maybe Ms. Winfrey is rigging the voting against Mr. Anner.* But that is small beer compared to her attitude toward him and his cerebral palsy.

I voted for him, but I kind of hope Mr. Anner doesn't win this contest. He deserves better, and I have a feeling that someone, somewhere will give him a show. I've got to believe that -- there are too many cable channels out there, and too many of those channels have too many personalities who aren't half as entertaining as Mr. Anner.

*And if she is rigging the voting against him, well, she believes that he did something to deserve that, too.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Another Megan Fox Movie Fails at the Box Office Without Shia LaBeouf

This weekend, the comic book adaptation (another one? really?) "Jonah Hex" opened to rather dismal box office numbers, coming in seventh place over the weekend.
[N]ewcomer Warner Bros' Jonah Hex already is such a flop that it's not even meeting the studio's low opening weekend expectation of $10M from 2,825 venues after it wasn't tracking. My sources say it opened to only $1.9M Friday and $1.7M Saturday so it's hard-pressed to get to even $5M this weekend.

Of course, I would kill to make a movie that earned even close to $5 million in a single weekend. The most any of my films have earned over a three-day period has been six dollars worth of hamburger meat.

Anyway, what are sources at the studio saying about the film and its "failure"?
As one Warner Bros exec said about the lesson learned; "You don't take a handsome actor and disgfigure him."
That's the "lesson learned"? Really? Take a look at this image from the film:

Megan Fox plays a hot hooker in a corset. I stared at that picture for about three minutes before I even realized there was another person in it.

Trust me, it doesn't matter that Josh Brolin's face is made up with a garish scar. Megan Fox is a hot hooker in a corset. Sometimes, she gets handcuffed to stuff.

Their first mistake was in not naming the film "Megan Fox Handcuffed in a Corset."

Their second mistake? Well, before I get to that, let's goose my google search position by posting another picture of Ms. Fox in a corset:

As they used to say in the old west: Yee-haw!

But back to my point, which will come as no surprise to anyone who read the title of this blog post: The studio's second mistake was in casting a film with Megan Fox and yet neglecting to cast Shia LaBeouf to act alongside her.

As I've already written, when Ms. Fox is paired onscreen with Mr. LaBeouf, box office magic ensues. When she is not, well, you get "Jennifer's Body."

And now, "Jonah Hex."

That's your lesson learned, Warner Bros.

Second Megan Fox pic source.
First Megan Fox pic source.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

RE: Perez Hilton/Miley Cyrus: Is She a Victim of Child Pornography, or Something Much Worse?

The blogger Perez Hilton recently posted a link (via his twitter account!) to a picture of what was allegedly the 17 year-old actress and singer Miley Cyrus getting out of a car. That has caused a firestorm of controversy, because, well, Ms. Cyrus was, again apparently (I haven't seen the image, it's gone now), not wearing any undergarments at the time and the angle was such that, well, apparently, you could, um, see something.

Salon, apparently a classy website, describes it thusly in its story:
The facts as we know them: On Sunday, Hilton's Twitter account sent out the following message: "If you are easily offended, do NOT click here Oh, Miley! Warning: truly not for the easily offended!" The photo in question has since been yanked down, but the image is allegedly of Cyrus climbing out of a car wearing a dress and no underwear (according to, this is a censored version of the image in question). Now, Hilton has posted upskirt shots before of Britney Spears -- but Cyrus is roughly five months short of her 18th birthday. She's still a minor and it's legally considered child pornography.
Pause for a second. A photo of a 17 year-old girl getting out of a car while not wearing underwear, so that her naughty bits are visible, is considered child pornography. That I can understand. And no one's in favor of child pornography. But surely Mr. Hilton can't be regarded as a child pornographer for merely linking to the image, can he?
Jeffrey Douglas, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who specializes in child pornography cases, told Salon that Hilton's liability is "extraordinary and intense" and that it was "suicidal for him to do this." He added: "We're not talking about a misdemeanor. You don't have to know what the definition of the law is; all you have to do is knowingly distribute the photograph" -- which Hilton, or someone with access to his Twitter account, most certainly did. It doesn't matter much whether Hilton took the photo, owns the photo or published the photo -- as long as he knowingly distributed the link.
Whhhaaaattttt? Linking to a photograph on the internet is considered the same as distributing it?

How far does that liability extend? Think about that question for a minute because I'm going to come back to it.

In the meantime, back to the Salon story:
Some are speculating that the image was Photoshopped -- so, what then? "Under the law, that is still a crime and it is punishable just the same," says Douglas. "For instance, if you were to take the face of an 8-year-old and put that picture on the nude body of even an identifiable, fully developed adult porn star, it is child-porn punishable identical to if you took a photo of the actual child." What's more, depending on how the image is presented, there is the potential for the shot to be considered child porn even if Cyrus is actually wearing form-fitting underwear; in fact, Douglas says there has been debate in the past over similar images Hilton has published of Cyrus.
If a person were to photoshop Ms. Cyrus's face on a photo of the body of Sasha Grey being DPed (I don't know who Sasha Grey is, and I don't know what "DPed" means), that is considered punishable to the same degree as if you'd actually taken photos of Ms. Cyrus's naughties? Or even wearing "form-fitting underwear"?

Are you kidding me?

What about the book Lolita? That depicts a sexual relationship between a very old man and a pre-pubescent girl. I actually own a copy of that book -- do I own child pornography? Or does this only apply to photos?

Is the mere description of the photo Mr. Hilton linked to illegal? Is the article considered child pornography?

As you're considering these questions, let's get back to that "how far does this liability extend" question I asked earlier. Please cast your mind back a few weeks to the middle of May, when Ms. Cyrus was burning up the internets thanks to a video of her being groped by the man who produced her movie, The Last Song.

As I wrote at the time:
The video pretty plainly shows the 44 year-old Mr. Shankman groping the 16 year-old Ms. Cyrus, and then the two wandering off the dance floor where Mr. Shankman takes a seat, and Ms. Cyrus continues rubbing.
When an adult man rubs his genitals against the buttocks of and gropes a 16 year-old girl, isn't that considered molestation? Wouldn't a video that showed such an incident be considered child pornography? And wouldn't the linking to a video featuring said groping and rubbing be considered prosecutable in the same way that linking to the alleged upskirt photo would?

That is, of course, if anyone decided to actually prosecute the man who actually did the molesting that was captured in the video (if that's what it was -- I'm no lawyer, so I don't know).

*UPDATE WED 5/16/2010 @ 3:25 PM PST

I think I was a little confused when I first wrote this post. Apparently, Mr. Hilton posted the picture himself to his twitter account, and then linked to it.
As you’ve no doubt heard, disfigured pedophile Perez Hilton posted an uncensored up-skirt picture of Miley Cyrus on Sunday, and although he quickly took it down and never reposted it, he claims it was perfectly okay for him to post it the first time. He also claims that he and Miley heart each other and this was all in fun LOL!
So, yeah, that's worse. I mean, I can understand why someone would consider that to be "distributing" a picture.

But did he take the picture, I wonder? Is the photographer (who, presumably, "distributed" the picture to Mr. Hilton) considered equally culpable?

And why is photoshopping a picture considered the same as taking a picture of an underaged person's naughties? Or even an underaged person's form-fitting underwear-covered naughties? There is much about the law that seems out of proportion to me.

I'm also still confused as to why no action has been taken against the producer of Ms. Cyrus's movie, the guy who groped her in that disturbing video. If they go after Mr. Hilton, they ought to go after Mr. Shankman as well.

That of course does not excuse my misunderstanding of the posting vs. linking issue, for which I apologize.

Monday, June 14, 2010

New When Falls the Coliseum Post: RE: North Carolina representative Bob Etheridge Attacks Someone for Asking Him a Question

Over at WFTC, I tackle the video of a representative from the state of North Carolina, Bob Etheridge, attacking someone who asked him a question. My worry is that we need someone to protect us from the rage of our elected officials.

Here is the video in question:

Since I posted the original piece at WFTC, the video has gotten a lot of play -- it's jumped from about 800 views to over 80,000. And some people are trying to, I don't know, excuse the behavior of the representative. Check this from Mediaite:
The democratization of communications technology (flip cams, home editing suites and YouTube) is generally lauded as a great advancement for civilization (and for the most part, it is.) But during a time of heated partisan divide — caused, in part, by a Balkanizing landscape of opinion media — well, one wonders if we really want an army of aggressive college kids accosting public servants until someone eventually loses their cool.
Did you catch that? The kids shouldn't have asked an elected official a question because we're living in a time of "heated partisan divide". Caused by all those kids with their cell phone cameras and their twitters.

Remember when cell phones were used to MAKE PHONE CALLS? Now GET OFF MY LAWN!

Yes, the Mediaite author is a luddite. And another Mediaite author apparently can't locate his dictionary:
A video of Rep. Bob Etheridge of North Carolina physically accosting a couple of college students attempting an ambush interview has created enormous reaction on the Internet this morning.
Wait a second. "Physically accosting"? That makes no sense. How does one "physically accost" someone?

As Merriam Webster helpfully points out, the word "accost" means:
to approach and speak to often in a challenging or aggressive way
How do you "physically speak to someone"? Unless the illiterate author is suggesting that the "physical" part of the "accosting" was in the approach? But that's covered in the definition of the word "accost."

The author would more accurately have said, "physically assaulting." That's what he did. The video clearly shows that.

Imagine if it had been anyone other than a congressman? Think he'd be in jail? Or at least questioned by the police?

And for that question, for crying out loud. "Do you support the Obama agenda"? That question is so deliberately vague, almost to the point of stubbornness, that it sort of reminded me of the great comedian Andy Kaufman.

Here he is "physically accosting" professional wrestler Jerry Lawler on David Letterman's show:

Of course, Andy Kaufman and Jerry Lawler were both in on the joke.

It's probably closer to Michael Moore, the celebrated documentary filmmaker, who often uses ambush interview techniques to catch his subjects off guard. (Sorry; can't find anything to embed.) Or how about this classic clip from "The Daily Show," in which they do an ambush interview of Carl Monday, a Cleveland ambush interviewer who did a story about masturbation in the library:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Rubbing Out Crime
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Anyway, the representative in question, Bob Etheridge, has apologized for his physical assault accosting -- on his blog!:
“I have seen the video posted on several blogs. I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved. Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina, I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response. I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse.”
Did you get that? Allow me to translate: No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become (that kid with the camera asked me something I didn't like [and that really made so little sense as to be innocuous], so I hit the bastard!) I usually try not to hit the bastards who ask me their intrusive, stupid questions that I hate to answer. But it's just so hard to keep your cool when there's so much, you know, partisan, um, stuff going on.

And no, you have not always worked to promote a civil public discourse, you jerk. You assaulted someone who asked you a question. It's on tape for crying out loud. That's a serious lapse in your "always worked to promote a civil discourse" claim.

He's no better than the cast of "Jeresy Shore."

Poodle Bitch Enjoyed "Extreme Poodles"

Poodle Bitch has heard of the phenomenon of dog beauty pageants, but she is not so interested in showing off for others as to actually want to participate. Then again, Poodle Bitch was not raised by humans who chose to show their affection for her by fussing overmuch on her grooming. They show their affection in other ways, that are very well suited to Poodle Bitch’s temperament.

Yet Poodle Bitch does not begrudge the fact that some humans show their affection to their poodle companions in ways that might seem unduly superficial, if not perhaps a bit disturbing. After all, there is a series entitled “Toddlers & Tiaras” in which parents are shown giving attention to their human offspring by participating in human beauty pageants.

Do you know why the children like those pageants? It is because, Poodle Bitch speculates (she is no expert on human relations nor does she care to become one), the children in question are getting attention from their human parents.

Poodle Bitch probably does not need to explain to the reader, who is probably human, that a little attention is all anyone wants. She is happy for those children who are getting some attention, whatever it might be.

The same is true of dogs. They want attention from their human companions. Some of us, like Poodle Bitch, require only an occasional rub of the belly followed (hopefully) by a tomato slice or two. Others require more, shall we say, active attention. These dogs love the feel of human hands upon them. What those hands are doing is largely immaterial – as long as they don’t belong to a veterinarian the dogs are happy.

Which brings Poodle Bitch to last night’s TLC special, “Extreme Poodles.” This program featured a look at the world of competitive poodle grooming. Despite the fact that Poodle Bitch is hardly “extreme,” and does not generally submit herself to excessively fussy grooming, she was much interested in finding out all about what others of her breed were up to.

The program featured contestants in something called the Barkleigh Poodle Pageant, which sounds a bit dear to Poodle Bitch’s ear (do you get it? because dog’s bark), where groomers present poodles groomed with “color, glamour, glitz, and style.” This according to Kathy Rose, the pageant’s director. Poodle Bitch cannot fault her enthusiasm for the breed; Poodle Bitch shares that enthusiasm. What she can fault is the paltry prize offered to the winning groomer. A mere $5,000 and a cover for a magazine called “Groomer to Groomer”? Poodle Bitch would have expected more for the person deemed to have created the best poodle style.

Then again, after having seen some of the cuts given the poodles in the special, Poodle Bitch wonders if the prizes might have been too great? For while Poodle Bitch appreciates that the groomers and human companions to the dogs are showing them affection by giving them such elaborate hair cuts, that does not mean she cannot find aesthetically displeasing some of the styles.

Or, if she prefers, all of the styles.

Take for instance Nina, whose poodle Jecht is to be dressed as a roller derby girl. When we’re introduced to this endearing couple, Jecht drinks from the toilet while Nina explains that she got rid of her human husband because he didn’t like dogs. Poodle Bitch thinks there might have been something more to the story than that, but she has no proof so she won’t bring it up. Nina then shows off what she calls her “chastity belt trick,” which involves Jecht putting his head between her legs and mimicking a fearsome growl.

If Nina’s ex-husband bothered to watch this program, did he count his blessings?

Jecht loves being a roller derby girl, Nina tells us. She dresses him in a skirt and stockings and declares that “he’s metrosexual.” Poodle Bitch can assure Nina that her dog is not metrosexual – he is just happy to get attention from you. And if dressing your dog up as a human girl and telling him, “I always wanted a girl dog” is how you choose to display that affection, well, he will take it.

But Poodle Bitch feels compelled to offer the following: If you always wanted a girl dog, why not get a girl dog?

Then there is Angela and Josh. Angela has won more creative grooming titles than anyone else, she tells us, and was first in last year’s Barkleigh competition. She has her own grooming business and says that “People actually have to tell me not to put color on their dogs,” as if she is proud.

Poodle Bitch would think that it just makes good business sense to ask people if they want their dogs’ hair colored. To assume such a thing seems a bit ludicrous.

But no less ludicrous than her grooming theme which is either “Buffalo” or “Cherokee Heritage,” depending on who you ask. Her companion Josh is groomed as a buffalo at the head, and with the face and headdress at one of the rear legs. Apparently, Angela is part Cherokee, so she is celebrating her own heritage which Poodle Bitch supposes makes the whole idea less offensive.

Poodle Bitch offers no comment on that. Humans are alternately too sensitive about such matters, and then too easily offended. She cannot keep track.

In addition to the actual groom of the dog, there is a presentation period, in which the groomers display the dog in a tableau meant to illustrate the theme of the groom. For Angela’s part, she has conscripted her father and nephew into wearing Cherokee headdresses and bird costumes to stand and prance around the dog, while Angela herself beats a drum (Poodle Bitch is unsure if the proper term for such a drum is “tomtom”).

Next the viewer is introduced to Sandy and Odin. Sandy is a decorated poodle groomer (who created the rather famous “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cut) who has a farm with horses, chickens, and, disturbingly, snakes.

But what she really wants is a camel. This despite the fact that she has poodles, and those poodles she describes as “her children.” Because she wants a camel, she will turn her beloved Odin into a camel. During the competition we see just how Sandy creates the “hump,” and this might have been the most disturbing part of the entire program:

She gathers up the scissored hair from the floor and puts it on Odin’s back, using Elmer’s glue and hair spray. Poodle Bitch had to suppress her gag reflex upon seeing that.

The gluing of the old hair was even more disturbing than the use of small human children in her presentation, which included belly dancing around the “camel.” Sandy, who has been belly dancing for about three years, had wanted to use her snakes in her dance, but she decided against that as many humans are made uneasy by snakes. Poodle Bitch can tell you that the same can be said of many dogs, as well. She appreciates Sandy’s discretion.

The next groomer the program followed was Lori, and her poodle Falcor. Lori has a grooming shop called “Doggie Styles,” which Poodle Bitch has to admit she finds an amusing name for a grooomer. What she did not find particularly amusing was the fact that Lori employed the services of a reikei practitioner upon Falcor.

Again, Poodle Bitch admits that Falcor probably appreciated the attention, but her skeptical hackles rose when she saw the groomer spending money on such pseudoscience.

Anyway, her theme is African safari; Falcor’s head is to be done with a lion’s mane, his left hind leg with a giraffe head, and the right hind leg a zebra head. Lori forces her assistant to do the bulk of the dancing that was part of the presentation, while she, Lori, put on her bottom a set of baboon-style rubber buttocks she turned toward the audience and shook.

Lori’s husband, when asked for three words to describe the grooming competition, says, “Ridiculous, lunacy, and ridiculous.”

Compounding the lunacy was the fact that it was Lori and Falcor that actually won the competition. Poodle Bitch is no expert on the taste of humans, and the special was carefully cut so as to prevent the viewer getting a full look at the other dogs in the competition, but she believed that the second place finisher, despite its hippie theme, was quite good. Poodle Bitch also appreciated the alien invasion/SF themed presentation.

Extreme Poodles did not present poodles or their human companions in the best possible light, but Poodle Bitch appreciated that the program appeared at all. The worst one can say about the humans depicted is that they truly feel affection toward their poodle companions. That is very good indeed, especially given the way humans are depicted on other reality television programs.