Monday, February 28, 2011

Cosmo Calls Selena Gomez a Cougar in Training

We were flipping through the April issue of Cosmopolitan and a tiny little picture of Justin Bieber kissing Selena Gomez caught our eye. Our first reaction, was "ew, Justin Bieber". Then "why is Selena Gomez dating Justin Bieber?" and then "why are either of them in Cosmo?"

Isn't Cosmo at least *supposed* to be a magazine for grownups? Why do we care who 16-year-old Justin Bieber is kissing?

Then we made the mistake of actually reading what they had to say about Justin and Selena...Ugh. Check out the caption they put on this photo:

Warning: Cougar-in-training

Yes, that's right. Cougar-in-training. Gomez is 18, Bieber will turn 17 in just a few days (March 1st). How the hell is she training to be a cougar, when her boyfriend is less than 2 years younger than her? The concept of 'cougars' in general is kind of offensive to begin with (who cares if a woman is older than the man she dates? why isn't there a name like that for a man who dates younger women?) but it's just downright ridiculous to call an 18-year-old girl a cougar.

We kept reading (yes, we know that was totally our own fault) and it kept getting worse...


Selena Gomez, 18, was spotted kissing 16-year-old Justin Bieber. We imagined her inner monologue, and you picked the one that seemed about right.
33%: "Uh-oh. Is it illegal if we hook up?"
24%: "Ka-ching! Youngest. Sugar daddy. Ever."
22%: "With dance moves like that, he's got to be smooth."
21%: "Crap. I'm going to have to sneak him into 18+ clubs."
Wow. Soooo much wrong with that. In only 6 lines or so they managed to hit on so many points that are just fucked up...  First of all, we'll rephrase our original question: Why is Cosmo writing about Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez?

Next, why oh why are they writing about teenagers 'hooking up'? How fucking creepy is that, that grown women are writing about - and asking other grown women to read and think about - teenagers (one of whom is a minor) hooking up? And since the type of 'hooking up' that might be illegal at ages 18 and 16 is sexual intercourse, it goes one step creepier because Cosmo is speculating on the sex lives of teenagers.

Think about how inappropriate it would be if Maxim, or another male-equivalent-to-Cosmo magazine, was asking its adult male readers to 'imagine' whether or not a 16-year-old female starlet was having sex with her slightly older boyfriend. Gross. (If Maxim is doing this, please don't let us know, as we'd like to remain blissfully ignorant.)

And... it's a minor point, but Gomez apparently wears a purity ring and has vowed to remain abstinent until marriage... so she's probably not too concerned about the 'legality' of their relationship anyway.

Then we get to the second 'option':
Ka-ching! Youngest. Sugar daddy. Ever.

Um... what? Again, it's a tad creepy and inappropriate to even jokingly refer to him as such, because the term 'sugar daddy' is often used in terms of someone wealthy offering money or gifts to a less wealthy companion in exchange for sexual favors. So... ew. Also, a sugar daddy is typically someone older who takes care of someone younger... they've already established that Gomez is older than Bieber. Sorry, you can't make her a cougar-in-training and him a sugar daddy in the same stupid article.

But then there's still more wrong about that one... Yes, we know Justin Bieber is quite possibly the richest 16-year-old guy out there right now, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's a sugar daddy. To even joke about the fact that because Bieber is rich then Gomez must be some kind of gold digger, is just really offensive. Bieber may earn somewhat more than Gomez does, but she's not exactly hurting for money. She's extremely successful for her age and is reportedly worth millions. She allegedly makes $30,000 per episode of Wizards of Waverly Place on the Disney Channel, has a pop music career and has starred in a handful of films, including Ramona and Beezus.

Yes, we know it's hard to imagine that anyone would want to date Justin Bieber for legitimate reasons, but sorry Biebs, she doesn't need your money and it's pretty sexist to joke that she does.
With dance moves like that, he's got to be smooth.
This one isn't offensive so much as it's just... stupid. Now maybe I'm in the minority here, but I don't think his dance moves are all that great... but let's just suspend our disbelief and pretend that they are. If they're already dating... then doesn't she already know whether he's smooth or not... without having to figure it out based on his dance moves? (We know Cosmo loves to 'decode' things about men based on unrelated stuff - but sorry, his dance moves prove nothing.) Also, what exactly do they even mean by 'smooth'? Anyone who read that Rolling Stone interview knows that he's clearly not a smooth talker. Hopefully this isn't another thinly veiled sexual reference about a 16-year-old boy Cosmo!
Crap. I'm going to have to sneak him into 18+ clubs.

The idea that Justin Bieber has to 'sneak' in anywhere is ludicrous. So is the idea that a guy who hangs out with celebrities like Usher and Will Smith would even want to go to some loser 18-and-over club anyway.

Cosmo, stick to what you know - slut-shaming and shilling for makeup companies - and stop trying to prove that you're still 'hip' to what the 'kids today' are into by writing ridiculous stories about teen celebs.

And we almost forgot the worst offense of all - they forced us to write about Justin Bieber again! Damn you, Cosmo.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Vampire Diaries: The Race FAIL Continues

So this week's episode of The Vampire Diaries was just filled to the brim with violence against people of color... Like we wrote a while back, there are only two roles for people of color on this show... witches and dead bodies... or in this case, dead witches.

There were lots of big 'developments' last week... Elijah is dead (and will stay that way as long as the dagger through his heart stays put), Katherine is out of the tomb (oops) but claims she wants to help (I'm sure there's no ulterior motive there), and Bonnie's witchy powers were taken from her by warlock Dr. Jonas Martin (for 'her own good' meh). So this week, with Elijah out of the way, the Salvatore brothers want to team up with the Martins to take down Klaus.

We're supposed to believe, for about 12 seconds, that they're going to help but of course we know they're not. Let's not forget that Klaus has Dr. Martin's daughter held prisoner because... well, this is The Vampire Diaries so if she's not dead yet she must be a witch and is therefore forced to do the bidding of vampires.

Jonas sends his son Luka, via some kind of 'crazy ass psychic witch attack' (as Damon put it) to un-kill Elijah, by removing the dagger through his heart. Katherine catches him in the act (well, sort of, he's invisible, because he's not really there) and stops him, so he stakes her, but she doesn't die because Damon comes to her rescue. Damon shoots the invisible-psychicly-sorta-there-Luka with a flame thrower and across town Luka bursts into flames for real... and he dies.

Yes, ANOTHER BLACK PERSON DIED on The Vampire Diaries at the hands of a white person.

Dr. Martin is obviously devasted and pissed... so he goes after Elena, basically ignoring the fact that the only reason his son was ever in danger was because of his dumb-ass double crossing (he basically sent his kid into a house against three vampires... really, he didn't think he might get hurt or killed? Irresponsible Daddy. But yeah, his son is dead so he's pretty fucking upset.) He goes to the Grill, where Caroline has just finished singing Bangles songs to win Matt's heart back and completely trashes the place - we're talking flames and violent magic everywhere - ready to kill everyone inside in order to get to Elena. Caroline pounches on him so Stefan and Elena can get away... but he quickily neutralizes her and poor always-in-the-dark-about-everything Matt deludedly comes to her aid, only to take a glass bottle to the throat. (She uses her blood to heal him and tells him she's a vampire, but he freaks out, because you know, vampires killed his sister, remember? Ah plot twist!)

Back at the house, Bonnie's feeling all guilty about Luka's death - because the spell she did on him the other day weakened him, even though it had nothing to do with why he actually died and ignoring the fact that Luka and his dad were only trying to get her best friend killed. Oh and Bonnie is dating Jeremy. Eh, at least she has a storyline at all.

Elena and Stefan get home... Elena goes to the bathroom and when she looks in the mirror, surprise, Dr. Martin is right behind her! Double surprise, it's not really Elena, it's Katherine and she chows down on his neck!
Katherine: You're welcome.
Bonnie: You didn't have to kill him.
Katherine: Yes, we did.
Surprise a third time - he's not really dead! He attacks Bonnie, so Stefan snaps his neck... and now he's really dead. No really, this time he's definitely dead. That's two dead black witches in one hour-long episode...

The good news (well, kinda) is that before Dr. Martin died he gave Bonnie back her powers and apparently the secret to how to kill Klaus. (We'll see how many more black witches have to die in order to make that plan work.) The bad news is she's back to be the one token black person on the whole show.

And since it wouldn't be The Vampire Diaries without a cliffhanger. A few weeks ago we saw the return of John Gilbert... so now they had to complete the family reunion and bring back Isobel! Yep, Uncle Daddy and Vampire Mommy are both back! Cant wait to see if Vampire Mommy kills any people of color next week...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lea Michele Wears a Low-Cut Dress: Parents Freak Out

The beautiful Lea Michele, star of Glee, graces the cover of Cosmopolitan's March issue... giving stupid parents everywhere another bullshit reason to be offended. In fact, some stores have even censored the cover.

As you surely know by now, we're not exactly huge fans of Cosmo magazine... but there's nothing at all wrong with Michele's cover photo or her decision to be featured in the magazine. However, that's not how some people see it, according to an article entitled 'Glee' Star Lea Michele's Sexy Switch Has Moms Mad:
'Glee' star Lea Michele has followed up last year’s widely maligned, racy spread in GQ magazine with a daring cover on Cosmopolitan magazine in a dress that plunges nearly to her belly button, much to many ‘Glee’ fans’ moms' chagrin.

These peeved parents say Michele, as an actress who plays a high school student on a TV show watched largely by teen and pre-teen viewers, has a responsibility to their kids to keep things a little more buttoned up.
“I think Lea Michele is sending the wrong message.  She plays such a ‘good girl’ on ‘Glee’ and a lot of kids look up to her persona.  Then she poses very provocatively on two magazine covers which makes my almost-13-year-old son very confused and offended,” said New York mom Kim Trefcer. “ I find it frustrating as a parent who is trying to teach right from wrong to their kids and then you have things like this happen which is showing middle schoolers things like sex sells and all that goes along with that.”
Michele has been positioning herself as more of a bad girl over the past six months, moving away from  her onscreen character, the cloying overachiever, Rachel Berry.
Back in October the Parents Television Council slammed a photo spread in GQ magazine of Michele and her co-stars Dianna Agron and Cory Monteith, in which Michele and Agron appeared in skimpy underwear, as “near pornographic pedophilia.”

Agron apologized. Michele did not. [...]
Now in March’s Cosmo, Michele is partially covered on the magazine by headlines that include ‘The Sex Quiz,’ ‘Get Naked,’ and ‘For His Thighs Only.’ In her cover interview, Michele gushes that her perfect night involves sitting on Skype with her boyfriend, while drinking a glass of wine.

Of course, Lea Michele is 24-year old adult woman, allowed wine, Skyping, and whatever sartorial choice she wants, from flashing her skimpy panties to revealing her cleavage on the cover of a magazine.

But that doesn’t mean parents have to like it.
Mom of two teenagers Suzette Valle, who writes a blog called Mamarazzi Knows Best, thinks Cosmo is just piggy-backing on GQ’s publicity from last year and she finds the cover shot of Michele contradictory.

“It’s irresponsible to be using an adult who represents a minor dressed in provocative clothes,” Valle told Fox411. “I think Cosmo is now taking advantage of the raucous GQ caused with their ‘Glee’ cover and hoping to cash in on the press that got.”
Michele may be smart to position herself as a grownup star, with grownup sex appeal, for the day when her “Glee” gravy train runs out. But pop culture expert and “Cult of Celebrity” author Cooper Lawrence says the actress could be diminishing her current appeal by continuing to appear in such overtly sexual photo shoots.
“You can be sexy without looking ridiculous, and she just looks ridiculous. It's not genuine,” Lawrence tells FOX411. “Lea Michelle may be an adult, but to pretend that she doesn’t know her fans are 11 is just ignorance. Why take the risk that even one teenager will get the wrong message of from her idol? Now she is just turning off the parents of these kids who are her future consumers.” []
There's just so much wrong with this argument I don't even know where to begin! 

First off, before we go down the long list of all the reasons why this 'outrage' is ridiculous... can we all please call bullshit on the claim that this woman's 13-year-old son was "offended" by Michele's photo? Maybe he was confused... but no, I refuse to believe a 13-year-old boy was offended by a Cosmo cover photo. Sorry, nice try, but no. Okay, moving on...

The magazine cover isn't really that daring. Yes, it's a plunging neckline but it's not that provocative. It's not that much worse than what most of the other actresses in the U.S. have been wearing, including some of the other dresses Michele herself has worn to recent events.

It's also not any more revealing or risque than some other magazine covers, such as Shape, which often poses its celebrities in bikinis...

So it's a little strange that they're making such a huge deal out of this one relatively tame photo.

Michele's Glee character Rachel Berry doesn't always keep things 'buttoned up' either. Although the character Rachel Berry is usually dressed more conservatively, she has worn plenty of sexy outfits on the show as well...

Rachel Berry is not necessarily a 'good girl' or a role model. She may be a 'good girl' when it comes to sex - which is clearly what the mother quoted in the above article meant - but is Berry really a good person? Is she someone kids should look up to? Sure she's got a great voice and a lot of ambition and drive and passion... but she's also extremely selfish, self-absorbed and self-centered. She frequently lies and manipulates (and she cheated on her boyfriend). But she's a virgin, which is clearly the only requirement for being a good role model for teens nowadays.

Glee is not a children's show. It may be 'watched largely by teen and pre-teen viewers' but this week's Valentine episode was rated TV-14 D,L,S. According to the TV parental guidelines this means that parents are "strongly cautioned":

This program contains some material that many parents would find unsuitable for children under 14 years of age. Parents are strongly urged to exercise greater care in monitoring this program and are cautioned against letting children under the age of 14 watch unattended.
The D,L,S refers to intensively suggestive dialogue, strong coarse language and intense sexual situations. Glee definitely has a lot of younger viewers (even Lil' Lilith watches it) but that doesn't mean it was ever intended for them or is always appropriate for them. The One Million Moms certainly don't think it's appropriate for kids (just sayin').Michele's character may not be having sex, but there's certainly a lot of sex in the show. I don't think Glee is so bad, obviously, but I wouldn't let my child watch it unattended because the show does often focus on 'adult' situations like sex. The actors are not under any responsibility to be child-friendly off-screen, when they're not even completely child-friendly on screen.

Cosmo is not a children's magazine.  It is a magazine for adults that usually focuses on adult issues and situations. Therefore, these 'confused' kids shouldn't be reading it - and therefore wouldn't know anything about Michele's wine drinking or boyfriend Skypeing. Yes, I understand that it's on display in grocery stores and other places where children may see them... but it is every month. The sexy headlines and story topics are pretty much the same every week - and rarely have anything to do with the actual cover model - so they should freak out every month, not just the month that Michele is on the cover.

Lea Michele got her start in a play that was anything but innocent. Although most of Michele's current fans know her as the prudish Rachel Berry, before that she was Wendla. Her most well-known role before Glee was in the Tony award-winning Broadway show Spring Awakening which is all about sex. She starred opposite Jonathan Groff (Glee's Jesse St. James) in a story about teenagers discovering their sexuality. Michele's character has sex with Groff's character, becomes pregnant and dies from a forced abortion. She's quite different from Rachel Berry...

Glee is not real life and Rachel Berry doesn't really exist. My 10-year-old daughter understands this; I'm pretty sure most of the kids and teens who are allegedly so 'confused' about Michele's photo do too. I could understand a tiny bit of outrage if Michele was the star of a show for preschoolers, who may not fully grasp the concept that TV shows are fictional. But any 13-year-old who doesn't understand that Lea Michele and Rachel Berry are not the same person has some serious problems.

Lea Michele is not actually a teenager. She may play a high school student on television, but she's an adult (as are almost all of the other "teens" featured on the show). That means she can wear whatever she wants on the cover of whatever magazine she wants; she can say whatever she wants in whatever interview she wants; she can drink all the wine she wants and Skype with her boyfriend as long as she wants. The article says she is positioning herself as a "grownup star" but she doesn't have to position herself as such; she already is a grownup star because she's - A GROWNUP! It's not the character of Rachel Berry on the cover of that magazine; it's 24-year-old Lea Michele.

If parents and fans want to look at her as a role model, they still have to realize that she's in her twenties. Therefore she can be a role model, but if her fans happen to be 11 or 14 or 17... they have to wait until they're her age to do some of the things she does now.

Michele is not the first 'teen role model' to appear in Cosmo. Plenty of other 'teen icons' have posed for the cover of Cosmo in equally revealing outfits and made equally 'scandalous' comments in their interviews. Note that I said 'teen icons' and not 'teens', as just like Michele, most of these women were not actually teenagers but are well known for portraying one or appear in shows/films with teen viewers. Some notable examples include Amanda Bynes, Ashley Tisdale, and Mandy Moore.

Bynes - who is the same age as Michele but is famous for playing a teenager well beyond her teen years on both the small and big screens - who appeared on the cover of Cosmo in January 2010 and January 2009. Her last role was 'good girl' Marianne in Easy A. Former Disney star Tisdale is best known for her squeaky clean roles on The Suite Life, Phineas and Ferb, and the High School Musical movies. She currently plays another 'good girl' on the CW's Hellcats. She appeared on the cover of Cosmo in April 2009 when she was 23. Moore graced the cover twice in January 2004 and May 2006 at ages 19 and 22 respectively, when she was best known for her teen-oriented pop songs and playing 'good girl' roles in movies like A Walk To Remember, How to Deal, and Saved!

They're not alone. Teen icon and singer Ashlee Simpson posed for the cover three times in the past 6 years, including February 2005 when she was only 20 years old. Hayden Panettiere (known to kids my daughter's age as 'the girl from Bring It On: All Or Nothing') graced the cover in April 2008 when she was only 18 years old and currently portraying another high school cheerleader on HeroesHilary Duff, who no matter what she does will always be most famous as the 'good girl' title character on Disney's Lizzie Mcquire, appeared on the cover in January 2008 and March 2006 (when she was only 18 and just coming off of roles as 'good girl' teens in movies such as A Cinderella Story, Raise Your Voice and The Perfect Man).

It is not Michele's responsibility to teach children right from wrong. Nor is it the responsibility of Glee or Cosmo magazine. It is the responsibility of parents to teach their children about the world. They should teach them that fictional TV characters and the actors that portray those characters are just that - characters and actors, not necessarily role models. Teach them the lessons you want them to learn and let them know that television shows are designed for entertainment, not education. Don't let the TV raise your kids. There is no reason that a middle schooler should be 'confused' by a magazine cover, but if they are - well, then there's a perfect opportunity to talk to your children about sex.

Lea Michele may portray a teenager on television and maybe some kids look up to her, but it is not her responsiblity to raise your children for you!