What the Hell is Wrong With You People?

Normally, I don’t bother paying attention to Miss America. I’m not American… actually, I don’t pay attention to the Australian incarnation either. I just don’t really have an interest in beauty pageants or their contestants. It’s cool if you do. It’s not really my bag. But, being a person with eyes, I couldn’t help but notice the controversy surrounding the crowning of Nina Davuluri as Miss America 2013. To which I say: JESUS FUCK!! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? For those of you who may not have seen, Miss America looks like this:

i.0.miss-america-miss-new-york-nina-davuluri

Looking at her, she has all of the credentials of a beauty queen: Great face. Great smile. Great hair. Gravity defying bust. (How? HOW?) Studying medicine. Gives good diplomatic answers to inane questions about the role of the Miss America. That’s all you need right? According to a bunch of idiots on Twitter, no.

Since the story blew up most of the racist Twitter accouts have been deleted. Lucky for you guys, it’s the internet, so nothing ever really goes away. Here’s a few that I could actually drag up images for:

nina d nina d2 nina d3 tumblr_inline_mt7c7oxiT41qawfnh

On top of that, there were a bunch of posts about how she was obviously a Muslim terrorist and how Obama must be pleased. My favourite, just for its sheer stupidity, comes from this account which has since been deleted: @wnfraser “@ABC2020 nice slap in the face to the people of 9-11 how pathetic #missamerica“. To summarise, the bigots were angry because Miss American has brown skin. However, they couldn’t decide which country that meant she was from, so most of them just took a shot in the dark.

This whole thing made me mad. Really mad. So, before I explode into a cloud of rage and glitter, some dot points:

  1. Yes. You’re absolutely right. You do have to be American to win. Which is why an American, Nina Davuluri, from New York, won Miss America.
  2. “American” does not automatically imply “white”, you fucksticks.
  3. Nina Davuluri is of Indian descent. She is not Indonesian, Egyptian, Arab, or whatever else you took it upon yourself to assign to her using your limited understanding of geography and vague knowledge of places where people have different skin tones. Invest in an globe. I’m not going to take you any more seriously, but you should do it anyway.
  4. Even if Nina Davuluri was an Arab person, that would not some how make her magically responsible for 9/11, you shitbags. The leap of logic that it takes for you to get to the point where you’d be willing to blame a hypothetical Arab beauty queen for a large scale terrorist attack just boggles the mind. Like…how? How did you get there? What twist did your brain take that you would think that was OK?
  5. The hashtag “#wherethewhitewomenat” is the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever seen. Did you look at the rest of the competition? It’s like 97% white women. The standard for American beauty (or any kind of beauty) should not automatically be “blonde haired, blue eyed, white girl”. The white women are literally all over the contest. And they were beaten fair and square by someone of Indian descent. Fucking deal with it.

I’m too tired and irritated to continue this post. Like, I really just feel like it shouldn’t even be an issue. She’s beautiful and she won a beauty pageant. It shouldn’t be that hard to comprehend. Fuck.

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Gaga Needs to Sit Down

I’m gonna preface this blog by saying that Lady Gaga is not really my cup of tea. She cuts and pastes elements from people that have been more innovative and creative than her to make a boring pastiche of average. And that’s just the most superficial of her problems. Anyway, here’s her new video. It’s pretty dull.

So, whilst attempting some sort of Grace Jones/Madonna crossover Gaga actually utters the words “Pop culture was in art, now art is pop culture in me” which is one of the more self-indulgent things I’ve heard recently. But this is just me taking pot shots. My real problem is with her leaked song, which is either titled Burqa or Aura, depending on who you ask. Here is what that sounds like:

Ignoring her attempts to make herself more interesting by trying to sound like a blend of David Bowie, Nico, Grace Jones and that weird hard house you find at raves that you’re not sure how you ended up at because you’ve been blacked out for the past 4 hours, my main problem with this is the phenomenal shitshow that passes for lyrical content. I’m not just talking about the chant of “Dance, Sex, Art, Pop” either, although I too can chant words through autotune as though they have great meaning. At the moment I’m leaning towards “Cry, Eat, Sleep, Repeat” for my next single. The choice lines that have irritated me are:

I’m not a wandering slave, I am a woman of choice
My veil is protection for the gorgeousness of my face
You watch, you fancy me cause there’s always one man to love
But in the bedroom the size of them’s more than enough

Do you wanna see me naked, lover?
Do you wanna peek underneath the cover?

and

Enigma popstar is fun, she wear burqa for fashion
It’s not a statement as much as just a move of passion
I may not walk on your street or shoot a gun on your soil
I hear you screaming, is it because of pleasure or toil?

It’s not the first time Gaga has dabbled with appropriating the burqa. In late, 2012 she wore not one but two incarnations of the burqa to a Philip Treacy show at London Fashion week, the worst of which was probably this hot pink sheer monstrosity (which has, conincidentally, been the image linked to the leaked track on many a music blog):

….No.

And with these new lyrics, she’s taken it to a fun new level. [Dudebro voice: But Alex, like…what’s problem or whatever?] I’ll tell you what the problem is, friend. Take a seat and I’ll tell you in great detail…or maybe like a little bit of detail before I get bored and link you to an article written by someone more articulate than I. Anyway…

You may have noticed that in recent years (or not-so-recent, I guess, depending on your perspective) there has been a wave of anti-Islamic sentiment in the Western world. A culture of fear has been perpetuated, to the point that just kind of vaguely looking a bit brown is enough reason to be shot multliple times – see: the case of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian electrician who was shot 8 times by British anti-terror forces, ostensibly because he wasn’t white and happened to be near the site of a terrorist attack, and that’s just one example I can name off the top of my head. In a political climate where that kind of thing can happen and you will still get a significant chunk of the population going “Ah yes, but he looked like a threat and he was near the site of the bombing so I can see where the police are coming from”, perfectly normal, happy people exercising their religious freedom become walking targets.

In the case of Muslim women, the wearing of the burqa has come to be associated with total oppression. Which is obviously bullshit. I don’t feel like I should have to go into why that’s bullshit, so I’m just going to link you to this blog: Oppressed Brown Girls Doing Things. It’s obviously not all about Muslim women, but you get the gist. Muslim women are not tragic, oppressed figures in dire need of assistance from an all-knowing white, Western saviour. They get shit done.

However, Lady Gaga (ever the innovator) has taken the other really gross path that people sometimes go down. The lyrics are disgusting fetishising, sexualised bullshit. She’s turned the burqa into a fashion object – she literally says it’s a fun, enigmatic fashion object – and then made it some sort of alluring, mysterious role-play with a lover who eventually gets to see what’s underneath. Projecting sexual imagery onto someone else’s religious attire is offensive and disrespectful. In a climate where religious dress and the wearing of the burqa is demonised, it becomes even more important to listen to Muslim women’s voices, hear their opinions and respect their agency. Instead Gaga has steam rolled over intersting, valid and insightful commentary from Muslim women in favour of making some flippant sexual remarks about peeking underneath covers.

Speaking of interesting and insightful commentary from Muslim women… I am not a Muslim woman. So, now comes the time when I suggest some further reading for you:

If I wear a burqa, nijab.. or hell even a fucking hijab, I’m a stupid, brown savage who has no capacity to think for herself. But when Gaga wears it, its revolutionary and fashionable. People love to scream equality and colorblindedness when such an event arises, but such a world is completely theoretical until we fix these the caricatured perceptions about Islam. The power dynamics here cannot be ignored. – From this post from Tumblr user maarnayeri

Or perhaps this article, which has a slightly different point of view. There’s a plethora of voices out there. It’s getting late. I’m getting lazy. I have expended all my energy being mad. Google it, folks. I’m going to bed.

Abercrombie and Fitch Want You (If You’re Hot)

My new(ish) flatmate has been looking at graduate programs recently, which has gone swimmingly for me because she had the good fortune of stumbling over the Abercrombie and Fitch stall. Thankfully, A&F had the good sense to hand out some reading material for prospective employees. It is full of hairless people in various stages of undress and, perhaps more importantly, some really great insight into what exactly drives the “experts in cool, All-American casual wear”. Since I know you’re all super-keen to know these things, I’m going to go through the booklet with you so that you can be all that you can to be. (We all want to be All-American frat-boy dudebros right? Good. Cos that’s where this is headed.)

A&F: Teach Me How to Dudebro

A&F: Teach Me How to Dudebro

Let me tell you man, this book is 25 pages of pure gold. There are four chapters: Lifestyle Brands, Company Growth, Social Responsibility, Store Opportunities and each of these chapters is illustrated with the kind of wholesome hairless models that I assume A&F wants staffing their various branches.

This man has no pubic hair.

This man has no pubic hair. I find that terrifying.

So according to the first page of Lifestyle Brands, which I have already kind of mocked, A&F is committed to “grow up with” their customers and “market the most aspirational lifestyle to each of our customers.” I wasn’t aware that a lack of pubic hair and an overabundance of flannel shirts counted as an aspirational lifestyle, but there you go. The next 8 pages are dedicated to the most pretentious of product descriptions.

First up, there’s the actual Abercrombie and Fitch brand.

Be cool.

Be cool.

Next to the dumb looking model with the unreasonably square jaw, is a paragraph about what it means to wear Abercrombie and Fitch. “Rooted in East Coast traditions and Ivy League heritage, Abercrombie and Fitch is the essence of privilege and casual luxury.” ‘Privilege and casual luxury’ is a fancy way of saying “able to pay $60+ for a plain white t-shirt. “A combination of classic and sexy creates a charged atmosphere that is confident and just a bit provocative. Idolised and respected, Abercrombie and Fitch is timless, and always cool.” I wasn’t aware that baggy grey sweat pants constituted the kind of combination of classic, sexy and timeless that worked together to charge the atmosphere, but what would I know?

The next chapter deals with abercrombie kids (no capitalisation).

Snapshot_20130319_6

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that model looks like a child. This model looks like a 25 year old with an underdeveloped face. Anyway, apparently abercrombie kids is the “essence of privilege and prestigious East Coast prep schools.” Well that’s embarrassing. “With a flirtatious and energetic attitude, abercrombie kids are popular, wholesome and athletic.” How old are these kids? I’m so confused. Apparently they’re “the signature of All-American cool” but I don’t even know what that means. Send help?

Then again, if the pictures are anything to go by, perhaps I am not the target demographic. So the next one should definitely be for me, then. It’s Gilly Hicks – ladies’ underwear that is apparently specifically Australian.

I think this is the first time in this brochure that someone has had their nips covered up.

I think this is the first time in this brochure that someone has had their nips covered up.

So, Gilly Hicks is apparently the “cheeky cousin” of A&F, is inspired by the “free spirit of Sydney” and makes knickers for the “young, naturally beautiful and always confident”. If we’re not naturally beautiful or perpetually confident, does that mean that we’re not allowed to wear the undies? Because aside from the implication that you need to be naturally beautiful to buy (something I will come back to later), I do not know a single woman who is ALWAYS confident. And I say that as someone who REALLY likes their own face.

Lastly, we have Hollister. Hollister boy is the only model wearing a t-shirt in this pamphlet, which makes me wonder what he’s hiding.

Poor Hollister boy.

Poor Hollister boy.

Once again, the words “effortlessly cool” are used to describe the brand, which makes me think that they’re putting a lot of work into something that should be effortless. “It’s all about hot surfers and beautiful beaches. Young and sexy with a sense of humour, Hollister never takes itself too seriously.” Judging by the look on that model’s face, I would say that Hollister takes itself very seriously. Either way, they aim to “bring Southern California to the world.”

The next chapter is Company Growth.

We smile.

We smile.

The happy smiley lady accompanies a page on the direction A&F is taking with their shopping experience. I think this is my favourite part:

“Regardless of location, all of our stores have an exciting, fun and high energy environment, reinforced by great looking, talented people who share our committment and passion for the brand. Our in store experience appeals to the six senses: Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch, Taste and Energy… The customer is greeted by great-looking, friendly models who offer excellent customer service…”

Right. Couple of things A&F. First of all, your committment to hiring people who are better looking than me is not an appealing point for your store. Also, it seems kind of morally reprehensible to put that in your manifesto for prospective employees, especially since your prescriptions for “great looking” seem pretty narrow judging by the people you’ve chosen to put in this booklet. Like… they’re all very good looking, but they all kind of look roughly similar. Especially the boys. Secondly, there are not six senses. And if, theoretically, there were six senses, the sixth sense would not be “energy”. It is stupid and you sound stupid.

The next chapter is Social Responsibility.

Snapshot_20130319_10

I almost fell over sideways when I read this because the idea that Abercrombie and Fitch is a thoroughly socially responsible brand is ridiculous. Under the heading of “Diversity and Inclusion” A&F lists its achievments, which include a scholarship program, a 100% rating on the Corporate Equality Index, making it officially LGBT-friendly and a bunch of charitable donations. There’s also some stuff about sustainability. But let’s be real, Abercrombie and Fitch has like, the WORST human rights record known to man. They’ve been accused of firing staff or refusing point blank to hire them for refusing to remove their hijab, they’ve been involved in several accusations of sexual harrassment by models, they’ve been fined for failing to accommodate disabled customers, there was a $40 million class action law suit for discrimination against black, Latino and Asian workers. The list goes on and on. I fail to see how that’s socially responsible. But all of that is helpfully left out of the little book, so I guess you can pretend it’s not happening.

The next chapter is Store Opportunities, which basically just talks about what you need to do to be eligible for the store program, which include “diversity awareness” and a bachelor’s degree. (Possibly also some moral blinkers but whatever.) What was the point of this blog? That Abercrombie and Fitch is terrible with a very narrow idea of beauty that’s laid out in black and white in their graduate program and I’m not even sure how that’s legal. Don’t fucking shop there. It’s the worst.

Vomit.

Vomit.

Also, I hope you really enjoyed my narcissistic selfies throughout this post. Suck it Abercrombie and Fitch. I’m fucking adorable.

Lisa Lampanelli is a Bad Person (Possibly the Worst Person)

Lisa Lampanelli is a terrible person. Luckily, most of you probably don’t know who she is. Unluckily for you, I am here to change that. Lampanelli is an author, stand up comic and all round awful jerk. She started out as a journalist and then switched to comedy for “the pay raise.” Her comedy is blatantly unfunny, and she’s repeatedly been called out on being a racist asshole. Which is what we’re going to talk about now. Recently, she posted a picture to her Twitter feed of herself with Girls creator Lena Dunham with the charming caption “Me with my nigga @LenaDunham of @HBOGirls – I love this beyotch!” Lets have a look at the photo in question:

What's wrong here?

What’s wrong here?

Notice how both the people in this photo are, in fact, white women? When contacted about the controversy, Lampanelli made the following charming statement:

“The N-word ending in ‘er’ is far different context from the word ending in ‘a.’ Ask any person who knows the urban dictionary, it means ‘friend.” And by the way, if I had put the word ending in ‘er,’ that would have been a very derogatory thing about Lena meaning she is less than me, and I view her as very above me. ‘A’ on the end means ‘my friend.'”

This is, of course, t0tally incorrect and awful, but totally fits Lampanelli’s profile. Her brand of ‘comedy’ repeatedly plays on awful racial stereotypes. They’re so offensive that I’m not going to republish them, but if you’re in the mood to make yourself really uncomfortable you can check out a couple of samples on the relevant Wiki page. Her justification for such humour is “I can get away with it because I am a nice person, I have a warm personality, my intention is good behind it.” I have written an open letter to Lisa to point out why she is wrong.

Dear Lisa,

I have  a newsflash for: you are not a nice person. You are a bad person. You are quite possibly the worst person.

The fact that you think that you can participate in the marginalising and victimising of people with a cultural background that differs from your own because your “intentions are good”, means that you don’t think at all.

The fact that you spent 30 pages of your book talking about the “quest for the perfect black man” does not make you not racist, it makes you a fetishising asshole.

If you do not understand what I am talking about, perhaps these good folks in this video can explain it to you.

Yours Sincerely,

Alex.

You should really watch the video. It’s good. Make sure you stick around to the end too. It’s crucial. That’s me for the night.

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