Friday, 31 December 2010

New Years resolution - quit reality TV

Ever since the trail-blazing 1960s, a democratisation of entertainment has occured in which 'high' forms of art and culture no longer dominate our collective imaginary. To put that in less of an arse-to-mouth academic kind of way, we began to believe that things such as pop music and soap operas can be equally as nourishing as, say, a Beethoven symphony or a Jane Austin novel. This trend reached fever-pitch around the year 2000 when the world got bitten by the reality TV bug. The success of shows such as Survivor and Big Brother caused self-righteous individuals across the world to proclaim the death of culture, and the deterioration of entertainment.

Very much a child of my generation, I was swept up in the reality TV buzz. The social aspect of the shows like Survivor is perhaps what is most fascinating about them, they are a bizarre microcosm of life. A large dose of narcissism also fuels the intrigue of reality TV - watching everyday people in extreme situations causes one to picture themselves in the same environment. The high drama of shows such as The X Factor makes the viewer feel as though the contestants are really acheiving something, and that you are fortunate just to be a spectator.

When I think back to the hours I have spent waiting to find out who is in the bottom three of So You Think Can Dance, listening to the Big Brother housemates' drivel, or writing a 100,000 word Survivor fan-fiction story at age fourteen, I feel a little sad, and can't help but wonder if those hours could have been spent more wisely.

Shows such as The Sopranos and Mad Men highlight the fact that television can be an artful medium, but there is no art in reality TV. Just a jack-off formula intended to pull at the heart-strings and test your nerves. The maximum pleasure that can possibly be gained from reality TV is the equivalent of, say, eating a Big Mac meal: a hedonistic thrill that is enjoyable at the time but pretty depressing in hindsight.

Television networks realise that the reality TV is both cheap to produce and easy to market, and are therefore less willing to fund other types of programs. Why would a bottom-dollar network boss want to fund scriptwriters, actors and a director for a drama which could possibly flop when they can stick six disgustingly stereotypical Italian-American 'guidos' in a house for two months and come up with the small-screen goldmine that was Jersey Shore. The show would have cost MTV peanuts to make and was so successful that it has been credited with driving an 8% surge in revenue for MTV's umbrella company Viacom.

No matter how ridiculous the show, it's no great gamble for networks, so there is no reason for reality TV to disappear anytime soon. This worries me because reality TV is fast becoming all that people watch on the box, and I don't think can be a good thing for our collective intelligence. I'm sick of waiting an ad break for some result, I'm sick of commentating voice-overs which insult my intelligence and I'm sick of the dodgy editing which repeats snippets of imagery week after week.

You can sing all you like about entertainment for entertainment's sake, but I've quit reality TV because I deserve better.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Little boy bauw

Bows are an aesthetic marvel. Elegant and playful, I always adore them poised atop a girl's locks. One day recently I wondered, why are they reserved for girls?

Fashion is on a trajectory towards androgyny, although this gender-fluidity only seems to have affected the way women dress. In the 1970s the adoption of jeans into the everywoman's wardrobe set the trend into motion, and in the 1980s power-suits with shoulder pads conjured a more authoritative image of femininity. In recent seasons, androgynous women's fashion has evolved further, as ladies have reimagined the man shirt, baggy slacks and other shapeless items traditionally reserved pour homme.

So isn't it time we gentlemen claimed something back? After all, the options available to a man when getting dressed can be ever so limiting... Introducing a new accessory for man-kind: the 'bauw', or in layman's terms, the male bow.

The bauw is modelled here by Fransisco Lachowski in a Dazed & Confused shoot. The Brazilian wonder-hottie has a quiet power, masculine yet submissive at the same time.

Fransisco is babe'n, and as someone whose head never ceases to turn when a hot guy passes, and whose heart breaks a little every time I see a truly beautiful boy, I guess I could be deemed a 'hottie conosseuir'.

Wrap him up and send him my way. And don't forget the bauw.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Best Xmas carol ever?

All I want for Christmas

Firstly, and most importantly, more than 9 quid an hour to work Christmas day.

A pair of white Docs.

A kindle. I admit there gimmicky, but strangely appealing.

 A massive Cos voucher.

Season Five of Mad Men. ASAP.

A trip to southern Spain (preferably Granada).

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Back in 1971, the movies used to mean something

The dynamic body of films produced by the Film School Generation from the late 1960s onwards accounts for many of my favourite films.

Directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogodanovic, and their peers, made dark, personal films which incorporate an ironic awareness of the history of film and elements of French New Wave cinema. The FSG directors shocked audiences with their disavowal for authority, unhappy endings, subversive content and gratuitous nudity and violence like never before in mainstream cinema (Scorsese's Taxi Driver ends in a bloodbath which is still shocking by today's desensitised standards).

Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1968)

Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969)

The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovic, 1971)
The Godfather (Francis Ford Copolla, 1972)

Martin Scorsese on the set of Mean Streets (1973)

 Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)

Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

After plummeting two decade earlier due to the introduction of home television, cinema attendance was suddenly reaching record heights. The truly remarkable thing about this period of Hollywood was that economic success was being achieved alongside artistic excellence. Then two films were made that raked in more cash than any before them and altered Hollywood's expectations of how much revenue can and should be made from a production.This effectively left artistic endeavours to eat dust.

Steven Spielberg' Jaws paved the way for brainless, big-budget, crowd-drawing blockbusters, while George Lucas' Star Wars trilogy showed the trillions that can be made from video games and merchandising related to a children's film. The sorry state of contemporary mainstream cinema can be traced back to these two films. These days, the cinema patron's choice of film is more often than not between a children's adventure movie or a Vin Diesel action flop. The rise and fall of the Film School Generation is a travesty, because in their day, movies used to mean something.

Music and melancholy

"What came first, the music or the misery? Did I listen to music because I was miserable? Or was I simply miserable because I listened to music? Do all those records turn you into a melancholy person? People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of cultural violence will take them over. No one worries about kids listening to thousands - literally thousands - of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss."

"... sentimental music has this great way of taking you back somewhere at the same time that it takes you forward, so you feel nostalgic and hopeful at the same time."

From 'High Fidelity', a novel by Nick Hornby.

When I listen to a sad song, I embed myself within its lyrics whether I have actually felt that form of heartbreak or not, and in this way, there is a melancholic pleasure in the suffering of sentimental music. This duet by Fiest and Ben Gibbard from the amazing Dark Was the Night compilation sums up how I feel about love at the moment, or at least how I've felt about it since I started listening to this song on repeat...

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Hats, braids, and hijabs, oh my!

Oscar de le Renta - Spring/ Summer show 2010

This line manages to be super-feminine yet in no way tacky, quite an acheivement considering the androgonous wave immersing women's fashion at present. I adore this show's sophisticated, streamlined take on feminity, its playful accessorising and the African jungle queen backing music. The asymmetric trilby hats totally channel Will Smith's older sister from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

This shit will fuck you up

There are things that I love and things that I hate about London. The people are well-dressed, yet everyone seems somewhat gloomy. The tube is a fantastic way to sprint across the sprawling metropolis, but it is expensive and often uncomfortably overcrowded. As for London's night life, there is a multitude of clubs, squat parties and warehouse raves to attend, but in my ten weeks here, the most trendy parties I've attended have been plagued by dubstep.

Although preference is by definition a matter of taste, I find it hard to believe that so much of London actually likes a style of music which puts you under an anti-social hypnosis, one in which your brain is occassionally violated by unpleasant sound effects.

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of listening to the moronic dance music genre, it is a faster version of Drum and Bass with overwhelming bass lines, drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals. Effectively, a big fat mess. And try dancing to it! Due to the constantly changing speeds and rhythms the smoothest move you can pull off is an occasional flail of your arms as the sound of pots being clanged together or a hyena cackle drops.

As a good friend and fellow loather of the dub noted, the most concerning part about the genre is to consider who is making it. What kind of sicko could think up dubstep's bizarre and unsettling patterns of chaos?

Lay of the K guys, seriously.

Watch 'Dubstep Chili Baby' here, a disturbing testament to the country's love of dubstep.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Red hot Rihanna

Can this girl put a foot wrong right now?

Chris Brown will be turning in his celebrity grave.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Black beauties where for art thou?

Naomi Campbell recently noted a decline in the number of black models in high fashion, and to be fair, no brown lady has scaled to the heights reached by Naomi or Tyra Banks in the early 90s.

Enter Ethiopian-born MILF Liya Kebede who has graced the cover of US vogue twice and African-American-Korean Victoria's Secret angel Chanel Iman and Londoner Jordaun Dunn, the first sista to walk for Prada since Namoi. Their presence in the fashion galaxy isn't going to rupture its foundations, but it does a little to appease the imbalance.

These are three of my favourite model of the past year, who just happen to be black.

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Only Black girls can look this good after popping out a few kids!

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Don't forget your mittens
because London is snowing

For a boy from Melbourne
All this of fluffy, white winter-dust
feels like a dream

Thursday, 16 December 2010

As if wear a scarf

I have a weakness for intricate neck accessories. I love anything that frames the face and creates a bit of a statement, from chunky rosary beads and buttoned up shirts to over-sized hoods and turtleneck woolens (preferably not all at once). And in the chill of my first European winter, I have become obsessed with snoods.

A snood is historically a type of European female headgear which in modern times takes the form of a tubular neck scarf. The cozy garment has been worn by working women since the Middle Ages but first came into fashion during World War II when material for clothing was being rationed. European women donned snoods, along with turbans and headscarves, in order to show their commitment to the war effort by dressing in cheap materials aside from their headgear.

In opposition to its utilitarian wartime purpose, the recent revival of the snood is all about being excessive and ostentatious. And this time, boys can play too! Here are few of my favourite "circle scarves", as the less cultured among us call them.

I own the one on the left.


What came first - the snood or the hijab?

I could be your love again

Check this band's style... I would totally work that guy's Indian American headdress. And not in a Village People kinda way, in a regal-tribal-couture kind of way.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Love letter to Matthew Weiner

I just finished the fourth season of Mad Men and feel the need to express my gratitude.

Dear Mr Weiner,

Your show has elevated television to a dramatic height that eclipses anything I have seen in contemporary cinema. Mad Men encompasses history, personal experience and cinematographic elegance so perfectly that is has actually changed my life. The show is pivoted on the concept of identity - constantly evolving with its protagonist Don Draper's quest to inhabit a life which looks perfect from the outside.

I think your storytelling is genius and your characters are unbelievably tangible. I cannot thank you enough for what Mad Men has given the word: A painfully beautiful exploration of what its like to be a woman in a man's world, the difficulty of understanding those around us, and the impossibility of resisting our human impulses. Mad Men is effectively about existence, set in the 1960s, but timeless in its sentiment.

Sard Wonder.

Matthew Weiner describes the show's magic here.

Sexiest doormat alive

Okay so Ryan Reynolds was just crowned People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive for 2010. What. The Fuck. If they wee trying to be atypical I think Seth Rogen would have been a more worthy winner.

The award is almost always a Hollywood hearthrob, and is usually in tune with the world's current benchmark of male attractiveness. Mel Gibson claimed the first Sexiest Man Alive title in his hey day of 1985, and the only two-time recipients are this timeless, predictable, yet irresistible trio:

But Ryan Reynolds, really? I mean come ON.

The star of many a mediocre film (Van Wilder, The Proposal), RyRey is the most mediocre brand of hottie out there. He has abs, great teeth and everything else that 30-something office folk would swoon over, but is he truly sexy?

There is simply no fire in his eyes, nothing about him which would make me want to forget I had boyfriend (if I had one) and jump his bones. I guess he seems like a pretty swell guy, but who aspires to bang the nice guy?

I must have missed the moment Ryan Reynolds became a sex symbol coz I was too busy drooling over these guys...

 James Franco in Milk.

James Franco not in Milk. James Franco anywhere except for in that awfully air-brushed Gucci ad.


 Tru Blood's Swedish superbabe Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd.

French New Wave actor Jean-Paul Belmondo (then not now). He is technically still alive.

Male model Santiago Peralta.

Gossip Girl's Machiavellian prince, Ed Westwood.

Japanese soccer player Hidetoshi Nakata.

That hottie from the new Jean-Paul Gaultier campaign.

And lastly, a classic hearthrob: Leo.