I opted out of typing music listings and attending sociology class Friday in favor of checking out the conference taking place on the University of Cincinnati’s campus: Pop Praxis: Social Justice & the Media. With discussion topics like, “Disco Stick: Lady Gaga and the Phallus” and a keynote speech from Bitch Magazine’s own Andi Zeisler, I was stoked for an enlightening day of stimulating pop culture discussion.
The conference was the result of a collection of papers, presentations and workshops submitted by speakers ranging from undergrads to professors to alumni from a number of universities. Submissions were required to regard "pop culture as it relates to feminism, race, disability or queer theory, class, consumption, and all forms of political activism or cultural production."
It was an honor for the university to welcome Andi Zeisler, co-founder and editorial/creative director of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture. She wasted no time launching into a pointed discussion about the importance of feminism today, despite the general public’s tendency to assume that the movement is past and irrelevant.
“Any media needs to make money,” Zeisler pointed out, “and the quickest and surest way to do that is to sell out women.”
In short, while addressing the frustrating roadblocks today’s feminist advocates face, Zeisler commended technology and blogging as new ways to comment on the media and bring important issues to public attention, keeping intelligent discussion going that might not have been able to take place before.
Zeisler said Bitch’s goal is to help people think about pop culture in a more critical way, so it makes sense that the speakers in the sessions that followed did exactly that.
While the main event was arguably Zeisler's speech, the presentations and workshops were fun and eye opening.
During the first session, Sarah Mitchell called out Winnie of The Wonder Years for her textbooks that attempt to make math “sexy” for middle school girls in “Postfeminist Math Barbie: Danica McKellar’s Provocative Education Advocacy.” Lee Serbin also pointed out the shaky, back-and-forth stance Tina Fey’s character holds between feminism and postfeminism in 30 Rock during her discussion, “30 Rock and Feminism in Flux.”
Some women in the media, however, aren’t so bad to look up to. One presenter discussed how Lady Gaga rocked the phallus on the cover of Q Magazine as a response to the public’s accusation that she’s packing a package. While still technically enforcing the belief that a penis equates power, her gender-bending humor puts sexists in their place.
A strong argument was also made for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Admittedly, she was skinny and blonde, but more importantly, she overcame that image to kick vampire ass. The slayer was decidedly deemed a pretty solid female role model for something popularized by mainstream television.
Feminism wasn’t the only topic of the day, however. One student discussed Batman as an extreme representation of hypermasculinity who tends to equate violence with being a man. That, and maybe steroid use after all the bulk the superhero’s acquired over the years.
During the same session, another speaker addressed the somewhat androgynous image of the emo kid. This speaker deserves props for researching something so fickle in the world of teenage cliques. She concluded that, while the emo subculture allows for somewhat of a break from that Batman-inspired masculinity, only the white boys of suburbia seem to make up this social group.
While it was impossible for me to make it to each presentation, at the end of the day, the message was clear: People need to be careful about what they consume.
There are no clear answers. Watching a Lady Gaga video over 30 Rock isn’t necessarily going to be more empowering, and children who prefer Batman to Chris Carrabba aren’t doomed to a life of violence. The important thing Pop Praxis stressed is that the discussion remains open and that we, as responsible consumers of popular culture, keep a critical eye on it.
During a debate last night Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was in the middle of an awesomely cliché jab at President Obama about his ruining of the American dream and all, when the eager audience interrupted him with a round of awkward applause. The break prompted Romney to look over at Rick Santorum and say, “As George Costanza would say, ‘When they’re applauding, stop.’”
Santorum seemed to enjoy the line, nodding and waiving his hand across the desk, like, “Yea, just stop … haha.”
The bad imitation is a disservice to "The Burning," one of the many great Seinfeld episodes (synopsis by Wikipdia): "Elaine thinks that boyfriend David Puddy may be religious after finding Christian rock stations set on his car radio. At the coffee shop, George laments to Jerry about losing respect at a project meeting led by Mr. Kruger after following a good suggestion with a bad joke. Jerry suggests that George use the Vegas showmanship trick of 'walking off' after a high note."
(Fun Wiki-fact: The title of this episode is the same as the 1981 slasher film The Burning, which was Jason Alexander's
film debut. It may also allude to Elaine's supposed damnation, Jerry's
"burning" to know the tractor story, or Kramer's dramatic interpretation
of the burning sensation caused by gonorrhea." Ha.)
Here's a link to an abbreviated version of the episode on YouTube. And on a sad note, the actor who played Mr. Kruger, Daniel von Bargen, was hospitalized yesterday after shooting himself in the head at his Cincinnati-area condominium. Friend of CityBeat Joe Wessels reported the story for Reuters here.
reportedly used the same stupid joke at a Republican
Jewish Coalition forum back in December, which caused Jon Stewart to
that it isn’t even George’s line Romney was butchering — it was
Jerry’s, and it goes, “Showmanship,
George. When you hit that high note, you say goodnight and walk off.”
This Sunday, the Golden Globes (aka the one show where TV and movie stars mingle while drunk) will be hosted by women for the first time ever! OK, the show has only had an official host since 2010, but it’s been Ricky Gervais every year since. This time around, dynamic duo Tina Fey and Amy Poehler run the show. The pair have a long history, back to their improv days at Second City in the ‘90s. Over the past decade+ they’ve proven their comedic chemistry on Saturday Night Live and in Baby Mama, but they’re also awesome in their respective rights, as seen on 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation. Check out some of my unlikely-but-hopeful Golden Globes picks here.
The Chinese calendar may deem 2013 the Year of the Snake, but according to my diva calendar, this is definitely the Year of Beyonce. The musical maven, who just celebrated baby Blue Ivy’s first birthday with hubby and baby daddy Jay-Z, is set to sing the national anthem at President Obama’s inauguration Jan. 21. Next, she’ll fly down to New Orleans to headline the Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 3. Bey is rumored to perform with a reunited Destiny’s Child (FINALLY) and the Hov. Just two weeks later, HBO will premiere Queen B’s full-length documentary on Feb. 16. The Bey-directed doc touts a personal, never-before-seen look at “Beyonce the person” (there’s no way she’s 100% human, but whatever) as opposed to Sasha Fierce the performer. A few things I’m really hoping to see: Jay-Z changing Blue’s Egyptian cotton diaper; Beyonce eating actual solid food; a baby bump shot to put those pesky rumors to rest; at least 13 different hairstyles/weaves.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC for the second half of Season Three on Feb. 10. We’ll pick up with the new Woodbury/prison storylines introduced in early December’s mid-season finale. Fan fave Daryl has been captured by the Governor, who places him in the demented fighting arena against his brother Merle (who was pretty much presumed dead by the group after leaving a trail of blood and sawed-off hand behind in Season One). Loyalties will certainly be tested when the Dixon bros meet for the first time and, according to this sneak peak, the Woodbury clan wants them to battle to the death. Back at the prison, Rick questions his leadership role and Tyreese (a character plucked from the comics) will step up as the group’s token black guy. On the other side of the camera, showrunner Glen Mazzara, who took over for Frank Darabont after a rather sluggish second season, will be stepping down. Some speculate the move may be due to a lackluster second half of this season, but Mazzara, AMC and comic creator/exec producer Robert Kirkman all claim the departure is on good terms. We’ll see for ourselves next month; meanwhile, check out this preview:
At first glance, Game of Thrones did not seem like my small screen cop o’ tea. I generally don’t read or watch anything too fantastical/mythical (but bring on the zombies and True Blood), plus the number of characters and settings almost make fictional family trees and note-taking a must. Regardless of TV preferences, though, GoT is an addictive epic. And on March 31, fans will return to Westeros for a third, slightly super-sized season. See, in the past, episodes were generally just more than 50 minutes long. This season promises several eps as long as 57 minutes, ultimately adding up to almost a whole extra episode. Way too nerdy and nitpicky? Well, that’s Thrones for you. But another fun addition to this season is that fans can now drink along with the show as New York’s Brewery Ommegang releases a series of Game of Thrones beer. The first, Iron Throne Blonde Ale, is set to debut in time for the season premiere.
And speaking of TV show beer tie-ins, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will also get its own brew with Aleman and Two Brothers Brewing Co.’s Dayman Coffee IPA, also slated to come out this March. Let’s just hope the gang hasn’t touched the stuff.
And since you can’t even read the word “Dayman” without singing:
Moving along to May, you better scratch those Star Wars Day and Cinco de Mayo plans. Cult hit Arrested Development is coming back with a new season, to be released on Netflix in its entirety on May 4. Of course, everyone is happy to have a little more Tobias Fünke in their lives, but this is a huge, possibly telling move for television in general. Plenty of failed shows gain a following after their demise on TV, but rarely do these shows actually get picked up again, and certainly not 7 years after cancellation. My only fear is super-fans’ high expectations will be hard to meet in just a single season. 'Til the release, catch up on the series and look out for these Easter eggs.
After being pushed from its original Christmas 2012 premiere date, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby will hit theaters May 10. The director is known for his visually exciting films, such at Romeo + Juliet (which starred Gatsby himself, Leonardo DiCaprio) and Moulin Rouge, and likes to blend contemporary music and themes in with those of the films’ eras. For example, in the following trailer, Kanye West's “No Church in the Wild” juxtaposes the 1922 setting.
If that's not enough for ya, stay tuned for more 2013 pop culture previews for summer and fall.
Stop waiting for a streetcar to pick you up! Get on your fixed-gear and go get yourself a "poop as you go" TOTO Biogas Bike. This Japanese invention runs completely on human waste and the company calls poop the "new coal."
TOTO is predominately a toilet maker but thought they'd try their hand at making motorcycles that not only run on poop, but use “residual light imagery to write messages in the air as it zooms by." Not to mention, it “can also play music to entertain spectators.” Finally, the toilet actually talks, a feature with which TOTO has been equipping many of its toilets.
Fans will recognize Odenkirk from Mr. Show, Breaking Bad and countless other TV appearances, where he generally plays a cheap, arrogant skeezball. Let's Do This is no different.
Let's Do This also stars hilarious "I've seen that guy in a million things" comedians like Jerry Minor (Delocated's Mighty Joe Jon, The Black Blonde), Brian Posehn (The Sarah Silverman Program) and Cincinnati-native Andre Hyland (The Jesse Miller Talk Show, Tracy, Dean & Jesus) all star in the video.
Check back with Adultswim.com for Let's Do This updates.
This weekend Cincinnati Ballet presents a production quite fitting, considering our weather – Rite of Spring. With Stravinsky's music performed live by the Cincinnati Orchestra, Rite of Spring is a “raw, grungy” piece that pits “individual against the group; it’s kind of timeless and universal,” as described by Resident Choreographer Adam Hougland. There is an 8 p.m. performance tonight and 2 and 8 p.m. performances Saturday. Go here for ticket information and performance details.
Concert:nova's Food + Music Festival comes to a close Sunday with Quartetto Italiano. The festival, which featured food and music from France and Germany, wraps up with an Italian brunch at Via Vite prepared by Chef Christian Peitoso and string quartet music written by Italian composers Puccini, Verdi and Nino Rota. The event takes place at noon and is $55 ($35 for pass holders). Get tickets here.
46th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade steps off at noon downtown. The parade famously continues through rain, snow, or, perhaps this year, unseasonably warm weather. Hopefully the impending storms will hold off anyway. The route begins at Second and up Main Street, across Fifth and down Elm Street. Find details here.
If historically inaccurate holidays that celebrate stereotypes aren't your thing, check out The Art of Food, Merrily We Roll Along, A Day in Pompeii, tons of live music or any of our other To Do recommendations. Or just stay home and watch Always Sunny. No judgement.
OK, so M.I.A.'s video for "Bad Girls" came out a couple weeks ago, and despite looping it for hours on end since then, I cannot get enough of it. It's one of those tunes that makes me want to dance in public even without a (few) cocktails in my system. With a penchant for controversy, the video (filmed in Morocco) depicts what seem to be Middle Eastern women in traditional-yet-pimped-out garb racing cars in the desert and dancing to music with strong, sexual, pro-femme lyrics.
Though it’s been said that the political standpoints M.I.A. makes in her music contradict her lifestyle, or sometimes don't even make sense, the “Paper Planes” singer is the queen of juxtaposition when it comes to her videos. It's also important to note that “Bad Girls” comes during a time when women in Saudi Arabia are banned from driving. So whatever her intended/implied/confusing statements may be, this video is a pretty hot way to say “F that.”
Go here to watch her response to fans’ YouTube comments on the video.
mega-fest’s initial lineup was released last week, boasting headliners like Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers,
Phish and The Beach Boys. Every year I go back and forth on my
decision to go: Can I afford the ticket plus all the cash and supplies that go
into surviving there (screw anyone who says you just need water and a sleeping
bag)? Can my poor Irish skin bear four days in the blazing sun? What if next
year’s lineup is even better? I still haven’t quite decided, but 2012’s lineup
looks good to me for less-than-obvious reasons.
Ben Folds Five — As in, the original trio reuniting. One of my all time favorite bands. I’d die.
The Roots — I’ve been a fan of the crew since I first heard “The Seed (2.0)” when I was in eighth grade. And their day job as house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon has only solidified my love.
Ludacris — Not ashamed.
Of course there’s also this year’s #whoarethey Grammy winners, Bon Iver, Donald Glover’s alter-ego Childish Gambino, The Shins, jam band supreme Umphrey’s McGee and dozens more. Aziz Ansari (Parks and Rec, Funny People) is even confirmed to perform, though the rest of the comedy lineup is yet to be announced. It turns out most people go to ‘roo for music, but I will nerdily admit as a comedy fangirl, the stand-up tent was one of my favorite (and most air-conditioned) experiences during my trip to the fest in 2010. Ansari also appeared that year and Conan O’Brien, fresh off his firing from NBC, headlined.
A friend on Facebook recently posted a link to Hi-Fructose Magazine’s blog, a page covered in creepy-cute taxidermy art. Netherlands-based art partners (artners?) Les Deux Garçons create whimsical pieces in which real taxidermied animals are embellished with knick knacks, toys and lush decorative ribbons. If that weren’t enough, many the animals are dual-headed conjoined mammals, or are transformed into unicorn-esque creatures with crazy horns. These (ethically-obtained) animals are transformed into their own art form that carefully walks the line between beautiful and grotesque. Observe:
The media queen came to town Feb. 22 to speak as a part of the SmartTalk ConnectedConversations series, and boy, do I have a crush on her. She spoke (in a sexy Greek accent, BTW) on becoming fearless in love, work and life, providing many hilarious and interesting personal anecdotes along the way. Advice she gave included getting more sleep, turning off that negative voice, or “obnoxious roommate” in our heads and the importance of finding a “tribe” of friends we can all relate to and depend on. Fun Fact: She launched The Huffington Post in her fifties, thanks to help of a $100,000 loan from her tribe-mate Laurie David (former wife of Seinfeld/Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David). Pretty inspirational. She ended the evening answering audience questions with Channel 12’s Cammy Dierking, who clearly also has a bit of a girl-crush on Huffington, and who nearly made me wet myself when she used the phrase “That’d go over like a turd in a punch bowl.” It was truly a fun femme-fest.
Sleigh Bells on SNL
Despite my undying love for Saturday Night Live, even I can’t deny the amount of lackluster musical performances on the show. Granted, it is one of the few “really live” shows left, details often aren’t finalized until the last minute, sound is often off and the tiny stage isn’t ideal, but who could forget Ashlee Simpson’s career-killing disaster on the show? This year, it’s all about hating on Indie songstress/mannequin Lana Del Rey’s performance. Personally, I don’t think the performance warranted such a backlash, but judge both for yourself. And check out SNL’s hilarious response to Lana-gate (with Kristen Wigg as LDR) here.
Noise Pop duo (now touring with a third musician) Sleigh Bells killed it on last week’s episode. I wasn’t expecting
the live TV format to do them justice, but they sounded great and were
entertaining despite a nearly naked stage.
Flynt is currently touring in support of his book, One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and their Lovers Changed the Course of American History. He will sign copies of the book starting at 7 p.m. The first 25 guests will receive a free gift bag.
Flynt added a Hustler location Downtown last year on Seventh Street, not to be confused with his brother Jimmy Flynt's store on Elm Street — the two have been involved in a long-standing financial feud.
Check out this video from Commonwealth Club of California with Flynt and Eisenbach as they discuss stories and implications from One Nation.
Popular PBS series and appraisal show pioneer Antiques Roadshow has come to Cincinnati to film an episode locally. Film crews can be seen at various area landmarks such as Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, the American Sign Museum and the appraisal site, Duke Energy Convention Center.
Host Mark L. Walberg and appraiser Lark Manson were scheduled to visit the zoo today to discuss the rhino population crisis and its relation to antique trading. The crew will stop by the American Sign Museum Friday with Walberg and appraiser Leila Dunbar to cover 20th century vintage signage and get some vibrant shots of the local attraction.
Saturday is the big day for the lucky 6,000 expected guests in attendance. From 8 a.m.-5 p.m., more than 70 appraisers will be on-site at the Duke Energy Center to assess the value of more than 12,000 vintage toys, antique furniture, knick-knacks and plenty of other items. Of all stops on Antiques Roadshow's six-city tour, Cincinnati's show received that highest number of ticket requests (more than 37,000). Antiques Roadshow attendees are selected at random prior to the event.
The episode is set to air on PBS in 2013. The show previously filmed an episode in Cincinnati in 1998.
Watch July 21st, 2012 -- ROADSHOW Comes to Cincinnati, OH! on PBS. See more from Antiques Roadshow.
Fashion designer Laura Dawson makes her homecoming Monday as she shows her collection in Cincinnati Fashion Week (CFW) for the second year. A graduate of The University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP), Dawson went on to New York to work for Donna Karan, style/design for Moby, The Brazilian Girls, Yelle and The Scissor Sisters and even appeared on Bravo's The Fashion Show. She founded her line of women's clothing in 2003 and has worked out of London since 2009.