Saturday, July 25, 2009

Leave Demi Lovato Alone!

Star magazine recently printed photographs of Demi Lovato and a story about how she's allegedly been self-mutilating. The article "Is Demi Cutting Again?" suggests that the Disney actress/singer has been cutting her wrists because she is stressed about her show Sonny with a Chance:
"She's not getting enough downtime because there is so much work involved, and she's always being pulled in different directions." Unfortunately, that constant pressure may lead to destructive behavior.
"Cutting is how she can let go of the stress that has built up inside — when she cuts herself, it's a way to cope," explains Dr. Jennifer Austin Leigh, a San Francisco–based psychologist who specializes in treating teenagers. But there is hope, adds Dr. Leigh, who has not treated the actress. Besides counseling, Demi "needs to surround herself with family and friends who will have a positive impact on her." [Star]
Just to be clear, Dr. Leigh is not Demi's doctor. Her description of self-mutilation and its causes is probably correct, but she is in no position to make claims about Demi in particular. Oh and the source of this story is described simply as "a source" so we know that they're totally credible.

I think stories like this one - which has been repeated every fucking where - are wrong for two reasons:

One -
We don't know if it's actually true. I doubt the authenticity of the story and the photos. Why? Because tabloids are always known for being totally completely truthful and unbiased and reliable and accurate!! I won't go so far as to suggest that the photos are doctored - although I wouldn't put it past Star - but I do think the images are not clear enough to make such a leap as to Demi Lovato's mental status.

If the photos are correct, it still doesn't prove that she is self-mutilating. There are so many ways she could've gotten those marks. (Does Demi Lovato have a cat?) Also, knowing that she is so much in the public eye - her show Sonny with a Chance is the #1 in its timeslot right now and she's about to go on tour with David Archuleta - wouldn't she perhaps cut herself in a less visible area? And wouldn't her handlers - knowing that the tabloids have already speculated about this issue in the past - make sure her wrists were covered? Lillian Matulic, Demi's rep, described the allegations as "completely false".

Two -
If this is true... is it really our business? If the rumors are true and this is Demi's response to too much stress, isn't it kind of fucked up that we're reading about it as if it's news? If she's really stressed enough to self-mutilate, then isn't tabloid gossip going to make it worse? She's 16 years old - she's a child - this is not our business. This is not news that we should be reading in a tabloid. This should not be fodder for blogs and polls.

The media is always all over young celebs - like Miley Cyrus - for basically being teenagers with the bad fortune to be massively famous. However, that talk is usually about "naughty" things that the celebs have allegedly done. This on the other hand, is very different. This isn't an inappropriate picture or an offhand comment. This is gossip about a potentially serious problem. It's just plain wrong. Demi Lovato is the perfect example of what Disney wants their products, stars... to be. She's a squeaky clean "good girl" - no scandals, no rumors of drugs or sex. If she truly is going through a really hard time and struggling with self abuse - then why are we tearing her down even further?

Leave her alone! Yes she's a celebrity, but she's also a child. Write all you want about her career or her love life, but if she truly is dealing with a potentially dangerous condition then let's not make it worse. So shut the fuck up already!

For more information and support about self-injury: or SIsupport

Thursday, July 23, 2009

One Million Moms Want You to Screen It!

The latest action alert from One Million Moms is about how to protect kids from seeing "objectionable content" at the movies this summer.

Here's an excerpt from the alert:
This summer, our sons and daughters have a lot of choices when it comes to what movies are playing at the local theater. It almost seems this year several new movies are coming out each week.

It's clear to me that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) does a very poor job in the ratings department, and an even worse job is letting parents know what objectionable content is in a particular movie.

For example, a young lady I know recently posted on her Facebook page that she was going back to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen for a second time. Her parents had no idea that this PG-13 film contains extensive sexual scenes, violence, drug use, and 37 strong profanities. And, her Christian parents were shocked to learn that the Hollywood blockbuster used God's name in vain 19 times!

As moms, it's important that we know what our children and grandchildren are being influenced by. If we are going to trust the MPAA to do it for us, we're in big trouble.

That's why I want to share a website that offers the most complete movie reviews available. Screen It! is an independent website that reviews all major motion pictures and lists every conceivable objectionable element. And it's free! OneMillionMoms staff members have used Screen It! for years and have found it to be the best parental resource out there.

This is not a OneMillionMoms offer or partnership. In fact, Screen It! isn't even aware that I'm telling you about their great website. It's simply a tool I believe will help you as a mom, to control what your children are seeing at the theater.

Now, we have some issues with the MPAA ratings system too, but not the same ones that the One Million Moms have. For example, the way that they treat male and female nudity differently. Or gay content versus straight content. Or how hung up they are on sex scenes while letting lots of graphic bloody violence slide right by.

What cracks me up about this is the mental image of someone sitting through Transformers in the theater just to count the number of profanities and instances of "taking the Lord's name in vain". And I had to laugh at the surprised comment that it "almost seems this year several new movies are coming out each week". Is that really something new and different, especially in the summer?

One thing I'll say for this campaign is that at least in this case they're arguing that the ratings of some movies are inaccurate and make it difficult for them to do their job as parents in deciding what their kids should see. Compare that to their complaints from a few weeks ago about the TV show The Cougar - they were upset partly because the show was on TV Land, a "family-friendly network" that "most parents trust to provide wholesome entertainment", while ignoring the fact that TV Land is not specifically a kids channel and the show was on at 10 PM on a weeknight with a TV-PG (Parental Guidance Suggested) rating.

I also don't think that the idea of a site like Screen It is so horrible. And the creators of the site do make it clear that their goal is to give parents the information they need to make their own choices, not to protest the content of certain movies or to set their own ratings and start telling parents what their kids should see.
Screen It! was created to give parents a way to access the content of popular entertainment their kids are exposed to. It is not intended as censorship. Rather, it is designed to allow Hollywood and Record Labels to continue to produce movies, videos and music while informing parents of the content in them. Some people argue over the moral quality of films while others want to ban certain albums that contain material that particularly offends them. That is censorship, and it's not right for others to decide what you or your children can see. That decision lies with you.

We're not affiliated with any political, social or religious group thus assuring that we'll provide unbiased reviews. By doing so, we allow parents and others to decide whether a movie/video/CD is appropriate for them and/or their kids based on THEIR values.

The one main issue that I have is the claim that Screen It provides "unbiased" reviews. They review movies based on a bunch of categories, from standard stuff like "Alcohol/Drugs", "Violence", "Profanity", and "Sex/Nudity" to more subjective things like "Disrespectful/Bad Attitude", "Imitative Behavior", and "Topics to Talk About". I think it would be pretty hard for anyone to be totally objective in evaluating all of those different categories, and I'm sure that they make judgment calls all the time about whether kids might really want to imitate Behavior X from Disrespectful Character Y.

Here's one example that I stumbled on when I was reading the reviews of a couple of movies that I've seen recently. Screen It rated the movie Star Trek as "heavy" in the Sex/Nudity category. Really? There are a few suggestive jokes and comments, a couple of kisses and one scene with two characters kissing in their underwear, but nobody is ever shown having sex and there's no nudity. I know they're thinking about it in terms of children watching it, but that rating still seems excessive to me.

But this is the part that really bugged me. This is the first item on the list for the Sex/Nudity category:
We see Kirk's expectant mother ready to give birth to him (we see a side view of her with her legs spread, but nothing explicit is seen).

Why is this scene listed in this category? There's no nudity in the scene at all - they admit themselves that all you see is a side view of her legs. Partially bare legs count as "nudity" now? There's also obviously no sex since it's a childbirth scene. I could understand putting this one under "Tense Family Scenes" or "Topics To Talk About", but it doesn't automatically qualify as Sex/Nudity just because there's a vagina involved, and classifying it that way makes it seem like they're implying that there's something dirty or inappropriate about the scene, which couldn't be further from the truth.

I have to thank the One Million Moms on this one, because I think the ESC is going to get a lot of use out of Screen It when we're trying to decide if a movie has enough inappropriate content to keep us entertained.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More Creative Censorship From the One Million Moms

The One Million Moms have taken a short break from their crusade against The Secret Life of the American Teenager to protest some new ads from Carl's Jr./Hardee's. Here's the action alert (emphasis mine):

Hardee's and Carl's Jr. (CKE Restaurants) will never learn. They are back at it again with several more disgusting ads.

Though this time Hardees ad isn't visually explicit, the words and innuendo are loaded with s-xual nuance. It features their new "Biscuit holes." In the ad, various customers individually name them using such verbiage as B holes, A holes, dingle balls, and biscatles (as in testicles).

Sister company, Carl's Jr., has just launched its newest in a series of raunchy s-x-laden ads.

In review:

(1) Hardee's is a hamburger business catering to family yet they
consistently have used s-x to try to sell its product.

(2) In 2003, Hardee's (Carl's Jr.) featured Hugh Hefner as a poster celebrity.

(3) Hardee's also used an er-tic ad featuring a mechanical bull and a scantily clad female.

(4) In 2005, Hardee's used a pornographic ad featuring Paris Hilton exerting sleazy movements to market hamburgers at their "family" restaurants.

TAKE ACTION: Send an email to CKE President Andrew Puzder. We encourage to edit the letter provided and tell him, in your own words, what you think of his company's advertisements. Take an additional step by contacting your local store manager or owner, asking them to use their influence to stop the offensive ads.

We don't have much to say about the actual protest this time - we don't get Hardee's commercials here so we don't really see them enough to get super annoyed by them, although they do seem pretty stupid. (Also, we do have to applaud Hardee's for managing that special flavor of offensive that pisses off conservative women and feminists.) We're too busy laughing at how out of control OMM's word censorship is getting.

Just like before, the One Million Moms refuse to use the word sex, so they say s-x instead. So now I feel dirty even typing it. Sex. Sex sex sex. Sex! Okay, sorry. Anyway, the 'no sex' rule creates some true spelling comedy when they decide to use variations of the word, like "s-xual" (which looks like the name of some kind of robot) and "s-x-laden" (which is just hyphen overload and makes me think they might as well have written "s-x-l-d-n" and turned it into a fun 'guess the naughty word!' game). Keep in mind that they're doing this in email alerts written by adults for adults, and more specifically, written by moms for moms. So, leaving aside a very small percentage of celibate adoptive parents and immaculate conceptions, we're talking about women who have all had sex but apparently can't deal with seeing the word on their computer screen.

Since they can't even type out the word "sex", it's no surprise that they're horrible at trying to describe anything that's supposed to be sexy. The result is great stuff like when they explain that the commercial Paris Hilton did for Carl's Jr. is offensive because it features Paris "exerting sleazy movements". Who talks like that? Oh, right, people who write "s-x" instead of sex, that's who.

But my absolute favorite part of this has to be the reference to a recent "er-tic ad" from Hardee's. For a second I was confused and thought that maybe Hardee's had produced some sort of ablist commercial making fun of someone with a rare facial tic disorder. I quickly realized that it was just the One Million Moms being ridiculous and refusing to type the word erotic. Really, OMM? Not only is this stupid, it's also totally arbitrary. They'll say "raunchy", "testicles", "scantily clad", "pornographic", and "sleazy", but they won't say "sex" or "erotic"? I'm sure there's some very sound logic behind that. And speaking of arbitrary, why not e-otic or ero-ic or -rotic or erot-c? This is all so complicated.

Wait a second. I just noticed that in their old action alert on The Cougar, it was "s*x", and now it's "s-x". I wonder if that's some sort of secret conservative mom code or alert system or something, like maybe the middle symbol lets you know how offensive it is. If we start seeing references to s~x or s#x or s^x, we'll know we're really in trouble.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Hilariously Inappropriate Infomercials

I was watching television the other day (shocker) and I came across two commercials that were um... a little inappropriate for daytime TV: the Neckline Slimmer and Easy Curves.

My original dislike for these products was due to the fact that both are focused on "improving" female beauty based on society's stereotypical and unrealistic ideals. The neckline slimmer, obviously, is designed to slim one's neckline... claiming that it can "reverse the effects of ageing without plastic surgery". Easy Curves is all about making your boobs bigger. We must... we must... we must increase our bust...

But the real hilarity is in the actual use of these products. The Neckline slimmer looks like it's a blowjob trainer... and Easy Curves is all about the dual-handjob. See for yourself...

I'm totally going to get both of those... not to increase my bust or decrease my neckline... but just for practice. But don't even get me started on the Comfort Wipe (I don't do anal-play).