The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Posts Tagged ‘Celebrity’

Quotation Marks, Saving The World From Pesky “Assault” Victims, One At A Time

Posted by Clem Bastow on February 28, 2009

We have discusssed newspapers’ use of rogue inverted commas in reportage and headlines before, and fellow feminist blogger Audrey has just provided a fine reminder of why such a seemingly simple editorial tool can be so punitive over at her Audrey & The Bad Apples. As she puts it:

‘I’ ‘do’ ‘not’ ‘understand’ ‘why’ ‘it’ ‘is’ ‘that’ ‘so’ ‘many’ ‘news’ ‘reports’ ‘about’ ‘rape’ ‘include’ ‘quotation’ ‘marks’ ‘as’ ‘if’ ‘somehow’ ‘already’ ‘preparing’ ‘for’ ‘the’ ‘moment’ ‘when’ ‘they’ ‘can’ ‘gleefully’ ‘reveal’ ‘the’ ‘female’ ‘bitch’ ‘boner’ ‘killer’ ‘was’ ‘lying’ ‘as’ ‘chicks’ ‘do’ ‘because’ ‘they’ ‘want’ ‘to’ ‘see’ ‘men’ ‘suffer’.

Well, it’s good to see that such pointless “reportage” continues across the pond (and then some). Witness The Daily Mail‘s follow-up piece on Rihanna today:

picture-51Okay, as I discussed in my last piece on the spurious use of quotation marks in headlines, it’s true that right now, Chris Brown is “only” (see? I can use them, too!) accused of assault; he hasn’t been found guilty. Thus, I can only assume the Mail‘s use of inverted commas has something vague to do with Brown’s being considered innocent until proven guilty.

But you would think, based on the leaked police photos – which, in true classy style, The Daily Mail has helpfully re-printed (Feministing’s Jessica Valenti efficiently sums up why Feministing, The Dawn Chorus, and many others have not shown said photos) – of Rihanna taken immediately following the assault that led to Brown’s arrest, they could leave out the quotation marks, just this once. Whether or not it is found that Brown was the one who “assaulted” Rihanna that night, there’s no questioning the fact that the woman was viciously beaten.

(All of this is to say nothing of “…but she can’t raise a smile”; hmm, you think? A young woman is – “allegedly” – assaulted by the man she thought was her whole world, who then goes on to issue piddling excuses for an “apology”, and she doesn’t look very happy? Stop the presses!)

Wake up, sub-editors of the world: stories like this (and so many others) aren’t Kevin Smith movies, so put away your air quotes.


Posted in Blog Watch, Celebrity, Media Watch, Relationships, violence against women | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

What Makes Perez Hilton The #1 Gossip Blogger? Oh, Comparing Women To Dogs

Posted by Clem Bastow on January 29, 2009

I have been planning a long-form post for some time regarding the gratuitous sexism, fattism, misogyny and – yes – homophobia of Perez Hilton, and I will eventually get around to it. In the meantime, have a look at his most recent effort to inform his millions of readers:


How do you think that woman and her family felt when millions of people saw her compared to a whelping bitch?

When The Dawn Chorus first launched, we received some flak about our occasional-to-regular focus on sexism within the media and, in particular, in popular culture (i.e. the “celebrity” realm).

But what bothers me about this ‘ignore it and it will go away’ stance is that it turns a blind eye to the casual sexism that tells Hilton’s many readers (a high percentage of them female) that it’s okay to call women whores, sluts, fatties, homewreckers and, yes, dogs. Bear in mind that this is a man heralded by many major media outlets, syndicated across commercial radio and tabloid magazines, and even given publishing and A&R contracts, all based on his “work” on his infamous gossip blog. His is one of the biggest blogs out there; he is ranked highly in lists of influential web entities by Forbes and Time Magazine. He has made millions from his “brand”.

Obviously the appeal of is its very shabby bitchiness – so is a great deal of material online – but when will the major media wake up and realise exactly what it is they’re supporting?

Posted in Blog Watch, body image, Celebrity, Film & Television, Media Watch | Tagged: , , , , | 11 Comments »

Scarlett Sticks It To The Man

Posted by Tom Jackson on October 15, 2008

In a new interview with Cosmopolitan Magazine, Scarlett Johansson took a dig at the mainstream media for its sexist behavior towards Sen. Hillary Clinton during her primary campaign. In the article ScarJo says-

“Seeing how the media portrayed Hillary [Clinton] with unbelievable sexism – some of the things that people were saying were just so overwhelming. You just couldn’t believe the names that they were calling her!”

I think it’s great that Scarlett is drawing attention to something that I felt was rather unnecessary during the primaries. Unfortunately the sexism towards Hilary is still continuing, especially in the media’s silly comparisons of the ‘old’ and ‘tough’ Hillary to the ‘young’ and ‘hot’ Sarah Palin.

But are Scarlett’s comments really that surprising? You don’t need a degree in gender studies to have noticed the media’s sexist attitude towards female politicians. They seem to have been at it since women began moving into public office.

This video by the Women’s Media Center says it all. Brilliant!

Posted in Celebrity, Media Watch, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Sexing The Vote, Hollywood Style

Posted by Lee on September 13, 2008

I wonder if the conversation at the campaign office for Declare Yourself (an American nonpartisan nonprofit campaign to encourage young voters to register) went anything like this:

Campaign Guy 1:  “Hmmm, we better think of something really good if we want to get the young vote this election, man.”

Campaign Guy 2: “Free badges?”

CG 1: “Dude!  It’s not 1952.  No ‘I like Ike’ flower badges.  We need something modern, edgy.”

CG 2: “What about celebrity endorsements?”

CG 1: “Yes! Now you’re talking”

CG 2: “But who should we get?”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Celebrity, Media Watch, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Women We Love: Christina Applegate

Posted by Mel Campbell on August 21, 2008

Breast cancer is one of those illnesses that strikes fear into my heart. Earlier this year I had a breast cancer scare that amounted to nothing; but still, my brush with ultrasounds and mammograms had me pretty damn worried. I’d be shitscared if I actually had to face down death, and lose one of the most socially and psychologically potent symbols of my femininity.

Hearing about famous women’s public breast cancer battles tends to amplify this fear we have – Crikey had an interesting piece about how the rush to cancer-screening programs, particularly among younger women, might even be counterproductive. Perhaps fear is why we often tend to read about famous breast cancer sufferers as “brave” or “courageous”. We want our boobie-cancer patients to seem unafraid, almost to reassure ourselves. But this talk of “bravery” always seems a little patronising to the cancer patient herself.

This is why I love actor Christina Applegate’s honest, no-nonsense approach to her recent diagnosis with breast cancer, and her subsequent decision to remove both her breasts – her exquisite breasts! She recently spoke about her double mastectomy in an interview on Good Morning America:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Celebrity, Women's Health | Tagged: , , | 9 Comments »

Oprah Told Me…

Posted by Cate on August 1, 2008

I’m never quite sure what to think of Oprah Winfrey. A (black) phoenix who has risen from the ashes of child sexual abuse, povery and racism to become a media mogul? A woman who gained an income from the self-confessionals of middle class surburban americans? A woman who bravely shared her struggles with body image and disordered eating as she lost and gained weight again and again and again? A multi-faceted evangelical empire resplendent with motivational tomes, a high priestess at the pulpit whose mere mention of a book/designer/motivational speaker could rake in millions for others? And let’s not forget those self-congratulatory episodes of Oprah where she gave away tonnes of stuff!

I’m not the only one who has some conflict about Oprah. You can read here about the tale of Robyn Okrant, who pledged to live her life as a disciple to the commandments of Oprah. She admits:

She’s creating her “vision board”, has taken part in a “21-day cleanse” and cooked the turkey burgers Oprah insisted everyone try. But after the all-important de-cluttering, Okrant is now replacing it with new things she didn’t know she needed, such as a fire-pit. “We don’t have a backyard so I’m encouraging the cat to sleep in it.” 

It’s a totally fascinating mission which appears to have attracted a lot of media attention. I don’t get the chance to watch Oprah unless I am on sick leave as I work a day job. So, I extend the issue out to Dawn Chorus readers. What have you learned from Oprah? Is she a source of inspiration or irritation?

NB: I’ve learnt to keep any weight loss successes to myself, because (as Oprah attests) the weight always comes back…

Posted in Celebrity, Media Watch | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Note To The Age: It’s 2008, Not 1850

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 29, 2008

The coverage of Sienna Miller’s relationship with Balthazar Getty continues this week (evidently he said he was separated from his wife; it was news to her), and regardless of what you think of all parties involved, I stifled a groan when I saw this front page The Age Online piece:

Yes, it says “Scarlet woman”. Yes, it says “Sienna Miller’s affairs” (no doubt meant to be a hilarious play upon words).

Seriously, The Age, “scarlet woman”? A casual Wiki browse might have been in order for the subs:

Then again, it’s not as though they have a great reputation of being right-on to uphold. Why is it that in cases like this, everybody seems to forget that there is also a man involved, a man who – if we are to believe any of this muck – deceived both Miller and his wife and four children, and yet it’s Miller who is at the receiving end of most (nay, all) of the criticism bandied about?

I am not saying that Sienna Miller is without fault here, but it is not her fault, as the papers and gossips would have you believe. It takes two, as they say, to tango.

Posted in Blog Watch, Celebrity, Media Watch | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Dame Helen Mirren’s Red Bikini: It’s Okay To Be Old, So Long As You’re “Hot”

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 24, 2008

(Note: If you haven’t seen the photos of Dame Helen Mirren on holidays in her red bikini yet, have a look, lest the rest of this post make no sense.)

I’ve to’ed and fro’ed over the whole “OMG Helen Mirren in a bikini!” fuss for the past week – there’s no doubt that Mirren looks smashing in her swimsuit, but it’s the media and blogosphere’s reaction that bothers me, because the not-so-hidden undertones to the coverage essentially say, “See, we’ll put a 63-year-old woman in our paper! (Provided she looks ‘hot’.)”

If Mirren stepped out in a bikini with equal confidence but instead showed off varicose veins, a sagging bosom or crepey skin, you can bet your boots the papers would be howling, “Put some clothes on, nanna!”

And while much of the coverage purports to be batting for visibility on behalf of older women, I can’t help but feel as though all this does is exert yet more pressure on women – both older and younger – who don’t manage to fit into that small and unforgiving genre of appearance known as “hot”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in body image, Celebrity, Media Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Quote Of The Duuuhhh

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 22, 2008

Not that I think we should really expect much from a lass who wears cut-out pants and “glamourous” heels in her relentless pursuit of fame and fortune, but I just about barfed up my doner kebab when I read this quote from celebreality star Brooke “Daughter Of Hulk” Hogan (issued on her reality show Brooke Knows Best while interviewing a potential roommate):

You know what? I am actually not that much into voting. I think it’s kinda crazy that a woman is running, because I think that women deal with a lot of emotions and menopause and PMS and stuff. Like, I’m so moody all the time, I know I couldn’t be able to run a country, ‘cause I’d be crying one day and yelling at people the next day, ya know?

Apparently her potential roommate’s response was “Really.”

Good to see a young lady in the public eye perpetuating ridiculous myths about womanhood to an audience of millions – top work, Brooke!

Posted in Celebrity, Media Watch, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Older Women Are Funny Looking!

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 17, 2008

As though it weren’t already hard enough for women over the age of about, oh, 45 to have any visibility whatsoever these days, it seems the media will permit you a few appearances during your “twilight years”, provided they can make fun of you.

To wit, this exemplary piece of entertainment journalism from Monday’s MX “newspaper”:

Geddit? Because she’s wrinkly and old! Just like Yoda! Pfft.

Lookalike and ‘Separated At Birth’ features used to be a bit of lighthearted fun, featuring actually interesting similarities, like Michelle Williams/Shelley Winters and so forth. But more and more these days – thanks to my favourite gossip blogger Perez Hilton, and that fucking “SJP looks like a horse” site – it’s a chance to stick the boot into stars, largely women, who don’t fit the bill when it comes to what is considered acceptable, appearance-wise.

Posted in body image, Celebrity, Media Watch | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »