Thursday, 28 March 2013

Feminism/Uncensored: Reclaiming CUNT

Some food for thought:
I call it cunt. I've reclaimed it, “cunt”. I really like it. “Cunt.” Listen to it. “Cunt.” C C. Ca Ca. Cavern, cackle, clit, cute, come-closed c-closed inside, inside ca-then u-then cu-then curvy, inviting sharkskin u- uniform, under, up, urge, ugh, ugh, u – then n then cun – snug letters fitting perfectly together – n – nest, now, nexus, nice, nice, always depth, always round in upper case, cun, cun-n a jagged wicked electrical pulse-n (high pitched noise) then soft n- warm n – cun, cun, then t – then sharp certain tangy t – texture, take, tent, tight, tantalizing, tensing, taste, tendrils, time, tactile, tell me, tell me “Cunt cunt,” say it, tell me “Cunt.” “Cunt.”
-Reclaiming Cunt (The Vagina Monologues)

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Feminism: Guys, I Need You to Get This //OR// Why Street Harassment Is Such A Big Deal

Today, in less than a minute, I was harassed on the street by two different men.

I wasn't calling attention to myself, I wasn't dressed provocatively, and it wasn't the middle of the night.

And yet it happened. It happened, and it made me feel unsafe, insecure, and unable to simply walk back to my office without being reduced to a piece of meat by men that I didn't know.

I almost get why people think catcalling is no big deal. After all, the intention is usually just to flatter. It's not threatening, right? You're just trying to tell a complete stranger how sexy you think she is, how much you'd like to "tap dat ass", how good you could put it on her if she let you...

Oh wait...

Street Harassment is HARASSMENT. It infuriates me that so many men don't understand why it's such a serious issue. Being a woman in this world is literally a hazard. It means that you are at increased risk for assault  rape, depression, PTSD, eating disorders and a whole host of other things that I can't think of right now. Simply by being born with a vagina, there is a growing list of dangers that you will very likely encounter in your life, and it makes moving through the world difficult enough without you going out of your way to make it worse.

Picture this: You think you're being cheeky by calling me "baby" from across the street, or whistling at me to get my attention, and flash me your winning smile. You think you're paying me a compliment by crossing the street and following behind me for a block or two just to tell me that you think I'm beautiful and to have a nice day. You think it's amusing to tell me that you could steal my purse if it struck you. You think I should be flattered to be the object of your attention.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking that you're a stranger, and that as a man you're likely bigger and stronger than me, and that you could overpower me if you tried. I'm taking stock of what's in my hands and which of those things I'm willing to leave behind if you turn out to be a predator and I have to drop my shit and run. I'm looking to see if anyone else is around, and if I can run to them for help. I'm thinking about how easily I can ditch my heels if I have to make a run for it. I'm trying to decide if pretending to be taking a call will be enough to make you take the hint that I'm not interested, or if it will provoke you into more aggressive tactics. I'm wondering if the people in the surrounding buildings will come to my aid if I scream for help.

All because you crossed the street.

And I can see how that may seem extreme, but being a woman means being on high alert 24/7. It means that regardless of your intentions, I have to constantly be aware of the fact that my very existence means that you are a potential threat to me. And no, this doesn't mean that all men are rapists or that you should never approach a woman. It just means that if you do approach a woman in the street because you genuinely want to get to know her, you need to be conscious that until you prove otherwise, you are a threat to her safety, and she is actively aware of that fact.

Guys, I NEED you to GET this. I need you to know that this is not okay. Street harassment violates a woman's sense of security, and everyone is entitled to feel safe when they're minding their business, walking down the street. This is all part of a larger conversation about rape culture and male entitlement which I won't touch on here in the interest of brevity, but if you take nothing away from this piece, take this: Don't catcall. Don't harass. Don't make me feel uncomfortable just because you think  you're entitled to view me as a sexual object.

You are not entitled to comment on my body. I am not available for public consumption.

CNTM: I'm in Redface, Hear me Roar!

Trudy for CNTM Week 6
via CNTM
Trudy photographed by Calvin French

I always start these posts off with a ton of preamble, and it makes the reviews rather long, so this week, I'm trying to make a conscious effort to cut down on the word count. But before I get to the reviews, I want to call attention to something that I'm sure went over most people's heads: this entire shoot was done in redface, and that is NOT OKAY. Naturally I blame the producers of the show for not thinking, even for a second, that this might be problematic, but I'm a little disappointed that none of the girls pointed it out. (Or maybe they did and it was edited out? Let's pretend that happened.)

Other people have said it more eloquently than I, (specifically as it relates to Native Americans in the US, however the lesson translates well) but the basics are this: to be Amerindian is an identity. It is not a costume. It is the very essence of who the indigenous people are. To reduce their existence to a homogeneous hodge-podge of tacky war paint and feathers is to ignore the fact that indigenous people exist among us today, and to perpetuate the belief that their customs and cultures are a thing of the past. Correct me if I'm wrong (I am more than willing to eat crow) but I doubt that anyone on the CNTM team went through the appropriate channels to verify that this was an accurate depiction of Amerindian culture.

But enough with the social justice. That was your lesson in cultural appropriation for the day. Onto the critiques:

Everybody knows I love me some Trudy, but I don't love this shot, and it's not the best this week.The thing is, Trudy doesn't look bad, and the shot actually works quite well if cropped down to just her face and upper body, but the differing elements of the picture don't form  a great cohesive unit. Trudy looks as though she's been captured mid-articulation, but just before the point at which the action becomes interesting.  And her male model's poor pose is distracting, and draws the eyes away from her. Trudy actually has a spectacular profile, but there is no energy in her face in this shot, which immediately detracts from its power. 

Trudy should be dominating this competition, but her shots have slowly been getting worse. Mind you, they are still well above most of the other shots, but they aren't up to the standard that Trudy is capable of. I expect more from her.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Criticism: In Which We All Make Bad Decisions And Shame Spiral Occasionally // A GIRLS Finale Recap

It's been a week, and the season finale of GIRLS was still a little more than I can handle. After On All Fours, and all of the spectacular shame spiraling that occurred, I was weirdly looking forward to some season-ending closure for these girls: some indication that they had learned something from this season of hardship and emotional struggle. But, nope. All we got was more of the same. Hannah's self indulgence, Marnie's near deliberate obtuseness, Shoshanna's innocence (more on this in a bit), and Jessa's flightiness.

The finale made sense in the context of this season's larger story arcs, but it leaves the audience, (okay, me) with a sense of dissatisfaction. With the exception of Shoshanna, each of the players is essentially right back where they started in the pilot, and it feels like regression much more than progress.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

CNTM: Who Been Sipping that Jesus Juice...?

Stephany for CNTM Week 5
via CNTM
Stephany photographed by Marvin Bartley

This week was... interesting. There were a lot of problems that had nothing to do with the girls, but can we just agree that the drama between them is just too draining to be worth mentioning anymore? Kendra, you are not humble if you talk about how humble you are. Athaliah, someone not asking excuse, while rude, is not a capital offense. Calm down. Lisa, stop with the passive-aggressiveness. It's not cute. And all of you, leave poor Treveen alone please. There's a reason she's shooting past the rest of you while you battle for a spot in the bottom two. Top Model is a family franchise. There is no reason TV6 should have to place a parental guidance warning before the show. Tone it down ladies. 

But as we mention the bottom two, can we please discuss how completely messed up the call out order was this week? AGAIN? Somebody on that judging panel is hitting that Jesus Juice a little hard. I won't say who, but it rhymes with "Shmashmendy"... I mean Wendy. Wendy is sipping that Jesus Juice. There is literally no other explanation for this mess.

Frankly, I'm a little surprised that they pulled out the nude shoot so early in the game, but if the rumours are true and this is to be the only season, I guess that makes sense. Aside from the usual issues, this episode was plagued by the phantom boom mic, which kept popping into frame at the most obnoxious times. My other peeve this week was the photos themselves. Not the girls, mind you, but the composition of each shot. So many otherwise great shots spoiled by trees and shrubbery! But enough griping. Let's get to the critiquing.

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I do not love this photograph of Stephany. It’s not terrible, but I don’t love it. It’s very close to “quite good” and it’s a marked improvement in Stephany’s overall performance, but this is not the best photo of the bunch. Stephany needed to extend the energy in her eyes into the rest of her body; what Tyra call H2T modelling: head to toe. She needed to point her toes, lengthen her back, and exude more purpose. This photo looks like she is simply reproducing one of the yoga poses that they learned earlier in the week. There is nothing about this that distinguishes it as anything to be praised. It is however, one of Stephany’s better shots, and it’s a marked improvement from her portrait shot two weeks ago. So, for that alone, congratulations. 

Sunday, 17 March 2013

CNTM: Carnival is Bacchanal

Treveen for CNTM (Week 4)
via CNTM
Treveen photographed by Kerron Riley

Oh my darling biddies, I'm sorry to say that I missed everything but the judging this week, so I have little to say about the models' interpersonal drama. Unfortunately that means that this week, I'll have to base this review exclusively on the their performance in the photoshoot. I know! Comment très ennuyeux! But that can't be helped. Let's get on with it.

 It seems Treveen has once again found herself at the top of the pack and with good reason! This
shot has all the Charima Uniquness Nerve and Talent you could ask for. Treveen is engaged with her body and in her face, she's interacting with the other characters in frame, and she still manages to stand out amongst all the feathers. I can easily see this as an ad for Trinidad Carnival, as it fantastically captures the idea of interacting with a new culture, while also being wary of it. In this shot, Treveen has accomplished the near impossible: she looks demure in a Carnival costume. That takes serious skill. So congratulations again, Treveen. You clearly plan to go very far in this competition.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Fashion Films: Take My Picture// A Film by Garage Magazine

The discussion continues! What say you about the peacock blogger wars? 
As Christina of Profresh Style detailed earlier this week, tolerance for snotty, entitled bloggers is at an all time low. A lot of this stems from the peacocking behavior of bloggers at fashion weeks. There are interesting arguments/justifications for this phenomenon on both sides of the fence, but have we gotten to the point where bloggers consider themselves to be legitimate fashion celebrities, with the egos and attitudes to match? What do you think?

Monday, 11 March 2013

[Movie Review] Django Unchained: Spaghetti Westerns And Absurdist History

Django Unchained: A Review
via Afrobella

With all the controversy surrounding Django Unchained upon its release, I purposely waited until after awards season to watch and review the movie. As much as I love getting into the thick of things, I'd already  seen and read so much about the merits and failings of Quentin Tarantino's latest offering that I knew that there was no way I could love or hate it in a void. I needed distance. So now, two weeks after the airing of the 85th Annual Academy Awards (at which Django won for Best Original Screenplay), I'm finally sitting down to ruminate on how I felt about this movie.

I almost don't know what to say about Django Unchained, but I will say this: I didn't hate it.

I've never seen any of Quentin Tarantino's other films. From the trailers alone , he seems to specialize in a kind of overwrought, violent camp that does not appeal to me. But Django was his first directorial credit since 2009's Inglorious Bastards, the film featured several actors that I loved, the buzz was deafening, and it was literally the movie on everyone's lips,so I decided to make an exception and see it.

My conclusions? It wasn't necessarily worth all the hype. It was not a bad movie, and I'll even say that I mostly enjoyed it. I was amused at the choice to shoot so much of it spaghetti western style (since I hate westerns with a passion), and I loved Christopher Waltz's performance as the gun happy, dentist-cum-bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz. Jaime Foxx gave possibly one of the best performances of his career, and it became clear to me that whether he plays a house slave or the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., nobody fucks with motherfucking Sam Jackson.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

CNTM: Flounder or Flourish?

Treveen for CNTM (Week 3)
via CNTM
This week's winning photograph
Treveen photographed by Andros Belfonte

Firstly: I TOLD YOU BITCHES IT WOULD GET BETTER! This week we saw improvements in almost every aspect of the show (except the damn sound editing. *shakes fist*) from the judging sets, to the girls' house, to the girls themselves in the form of makeovers. Sadly, Wendy was still gorgeous and still boring, and the final call-out order was an absolute mess, but we did finally get a clear picture of the prizes: a US$50K contract with bmoblie, a cover and feature spread in Caribbean Belle Magazine and a modelling contract with Factor Women.

But it was makeover week, so naturally there were tears and complaints, but other than Kendra, no one seemed to have any serious traumatic experiences. In general the makeovers were pretty great, but the colours were mostly atrocious. None were truly terrible, but there were only a handful of standouts. (See Treveen, Trudy, Lisa, Susan) Everyone else looked different, but not necessarily better. (See: Sedia, Kendra, Ashley). But as usual, the makeovers added a new element to the competition, where we got to see which girls were literally resting on pretty, and which girls understand what modelling is all about.

When it comes to Treveen, it was clear that this makeover was incredibly needed. She didn't love it, and she cried, and she stalled, and she whined, but at the end of the day, her makeover marked the biggest improvement. I appreciated that she took the time to talk herself into accepting it and having a good attitude. It sucks to feel like you don't look your best, but modelling is about looking the way the client wants you to look, so I'm glad it didn't take her too long to recognize that fact.

The great thing is that her picture seriously benefited from her attitude adjustment. It was clear going in to the shoot that she still wasn't completely sold on her look, but she took the time to mentally set her reservations aside and get the job done. This shot is amazing. She is giving face, and angles, and sass, and attitude, and pretty much everything you could ask for in a portrait shoot. She deserved the praise she got for this shot, but I'm mostly impressed with how well she was able to set aside her personal feelings and do her job.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Cover Wars: Charlotte Free by Max Abadian for Flare Magazine

Charlotte Free by Max Abadian

Loving this bright March cover. Between the blues of the cover and the pinks of her hair, this cover is eye-catching and interesting. I'd definitely look twice if I saw it on a newsstand.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Campaign: Sheila Marquez and Christopher Abbot of "GIRLS" for Free People by Guy Aroch

Sheila Marquez and Christopher Abbot by Guy Aroch

Just yesterday I was telling a friend that I was thinking of delving back into photojournalism, because although I love fashion and fashion photography, there isn't that much opportunity for linear storytelling. Fashion simply is, and there is very little you can do to make it about any one thing in particular unless you are taking a dedicated approach to creating a specific story. 

So what I love about the shots in this campaign is that they manage to do just that. The entire thing centres on the story of these two people in love, and how they interact with the fashion is simply an organic extension of that. It's a very refreshing take on a very old and played formula, and I could get used to it. 

Editorial: Barbara Palvin by Simon Emmett for Glamour UK

Barbara Palvin by Simon Emmett

It's been a while since I posted any beauty, but these shots were so glamourous that I couldn't help myself. I think the strength in a good beauty shot is to enhance the model's natural looks, rather try to recreate them in a different way. It's so much better to see a face at its best, rather than done up beyond recognition. 

Friday, 1 March 2013

CNTM: Beginners, Bullies and Buck-Toothed Bitches

via CNTM
The Winning Photograph, featuring Trudy and Susan photographed by David Wears

So… almost an entire week has passed and I’m just getting to this review. It’s a little bit laziness and being busy at work, but it’s mostly my complete and utter inability to make heads or tails of what happened on Monday. 

And I’m not talking about what happened in the episode.

But first, the task at hand: A few minutes in, Rachel opted to leave to take a job she had interviewed for prior to making it into the competition. Power to you girl. Go make that money. Modelling may seem glamorous and fun, but it can take years before you hit a stride and make the kind of living you want. In the spirit of fairness, model hopeful Lisa was invited to take her place. With that all sorted, the journey continued.

There was some screaming, two gorgeous male models, arrival at their new accommodations (a drastic, minimal, military style barracks) and commentary on who is or isn’t “real”, who causes comess, and who is a lesbian. 

More on that in a bit.