Tuesday, August 31, 2010

High School Pad

It's official: The Bachelor Pad is high school for "adults." Amidst the cliques, gossip and backstabbing, last night contestants had to vote on labels for each other, senior yearbook style.

Poor Gwen was voted dumbest, although it's possible the woman doesn't even know how old she is. Elizabeth got most shallow, to which she responded that she doesn't "even know what shallow really means," and worst boob job, which is hilarious... unless you happen to be Elizabeth. And Natalie was predicted to always be a bridesmaid, never the bride - even by her secret boyfriend... ouch. (He also called her dumb, but she seemed to think that was funny.)

I still remember what I "won" senior year - Biggest Ego - complete with a cartoon of me admiring myself in the mirror. Although I had pranced around school in a crown and sash that said "Dancing Queen" on my 17th birthday, I was shocked and hurt that my classmates thought I was self centered... Good thing my high school days were numbered and then I never had to see them in the rear view of my compact again.

Unlike high schoolers, however, the Bachelor Pad residents at least pretended to feel bad about having to insult each other. And some of the boys really impressed me with their awareness of how insecurities can eat away at the female gender - especially the kind of females that go on the Bachelor... So shame on you, ABC, for stooping to a new low; but good for you, Kiptyn and Kovacs, for pleasantly surprising viewers, despite your questionable taste in women.

Photo courtesy of ABC website.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Goldilocks and the Three Celebs

I should have known better, but I forgot my book and had a 40-minute train ride ahead of me... I bought an issue of In Touch last week. I expected to look at some pictures of pretty people and read some gossip, some of which of course would be about so-and-so's diet or bikini body or whatever, but what I got was a new level of obnoxious I didn't know existed.

Sections entitled "Weight Update," "Body News," "Body Report" (more in-depth journalism than "Body News"?) and "Fit and Fab" are a Goldilocks story of who's too fat, who's too skinny and who's just right - this week at least.

An article entitled "Gaga gains some LOVE POUNDS" features then and now photos of the pop star and declares her "workout obsessed" in the former and "fleshier" in the latter. Although the article speculates that the extra pounds might signify "happiness weight," the conclusion is that Gaga will thankfully be back in shape soon: "... surely, it's just a matter of time before the lovebirds hit the treadmills together and Gaga gets her washboard abs back - all in the name of love!"

But another article, "Has Lea lost TOO MUCH WEIGHT?" (their capitalization... gripping), expresses concern that the Glee star's "extreme diet and workouts" are unhealthy. The article discusses the detrimental idea of perfection in "Hollywood," but conveniently leaves out the role tabloids play... A sidebar on co-star Jenna Ushkowitz mentions that she has dropped 10 pounds and now weighs 108. Good to know so readers can obsessively compare themselves - thanks In Touch!

Carrie Underwood, however, is applauded for her workouts in "The secret to her amazing legs." Not sure why amazing isn't in all caps, but the subhead makes up for it: "It's not just that post-wedding glow that has Carrie Underwood looking hotter than ever!" Her trainer tells the magazine Carrie "trains like a pro athlete." Apparently the singer has managed to balance on the fine between obsessed and fabulous.

And finally, "What's their bikini age?" scrutinizes six side-by-side celeb photos, calling those whose routines entail just the right mix of exercise, plastic surgery and splash of anorexia "hot mama" and "electrifying," and the losers "bloated and saggy" and "boyish."

What a clever editorial calendar: Publish some unflattering cellulite photos, then document the transformation in a feel-good feature, then write up a news alert when the diet and exercise go too far. This utter ridiculousness will either encourage us to give up the chase for "perfection"... or there's really no hope left.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Don’t judge a book by its title

I have a couple issues with the “wife” book trend, although I keep reading them… (Obviously this is a marketing tactic that works.) First, as others have pointed out, it’s rather sexist. Defining who the reader assumes to be the main character in relation to her husband and/or marital status implies that she has no independent identity. Although in some cases — American Wife, for example — I think that’s the point. The main character, inspired by Laura Bush, brings an overshadowed Stepford Wife to life.

But at least those titles make some sense. What I find more irritating is when the main character isn’t even the wife. The Doctor’s Wife, a thriller that deals with the abortion debate (interesting combo) could just as easily be called The Painter’s Wife, or Adulterers and Crazy Pro-Lifers… The book focuses on four main characters and two f-ed up marriages. So why just one wife in the title? Because that’s what sells I suppose.

So with those issues in mind, here are my reviews of five wives:

American Wife
Gist: It turns out Laura Bush, er, I mean Alice Lindgren, has a mind of her own and a semi-scandalous history.
Title: A
Book: A

A Reliable Wife
Gist: A wealthy widower in the frozen misery of 1907 Wisconsin puts an ad in the paper for a “reliable wife.” Whether he got what he asked for is up for debate.
Title: A+
Book: A-

The Doctor’s Wife
Gist: A small-town doctor starts moonlighting at an abortion clinic, while his wife gets some much-needed attention from a co-worker, who happens to be married to a wackadoo pro-lifer.
Title: D
Book: B+

The Senator’s Wife
Gist: A young couple moves in next door to an older woman who is somewhat estranged from her husband, a former senator and current perv.
Title: D
Book: C+

The Spare Wife
Gist: An ex trophy wife charms both female and male friends in her elite Manhattan circle (yawn) by claiming to have less interest in romance than sports and politics, which is of course BS.
Title: B
Book: D
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