Dig Those Groovy Tunes!

the only sound that's left after the ambulances go

Hey, VH1, You Know What Would Be Just Fantastic? June 26, 2010

"What are we supposed to do on a hot day? What? Not eat popsicles?" --Pickles the Drummer from Dethklok

If you stopped making shows that make women cry over how much weight they’re not losing and get back to showing me some music videos at decent hours of the day?  Yeah, that would be really great.  Yeah, because I think there’s something everyone can agree on:  music, even mediocre music, is infinitely superior to psychological abuse.  And if you’re under the delusion that bullying women into competing with each other to lose weight and earn a Dream Wedding (TM) is NOT psychological abuse, you are seriously mistaken.  

If you’re not familiar with VH1’s recent programming, I’m talking about the cruel travesty that is Bridal Bootcamp.  The basic premise of the show is this:  ten altar-bound women who have deemed their bodies “unfit” get sent to boot camp so they can lose weight and “commit themselves to a healthy lifestyle” (since that’s what they’re apparently calling it these days), all so that they can fit a certain smaller dress size by the time they get married.  The show is basically a competition to see who loses weight the fastest.  One woman is sent home each week based on how little “improvement” she’s made (i.e. how little weight she’s lost, or — heaven forbid! — how much she might have somehow gained in the process), while in the end the last woman standing gets rewarded a so-called Dream Wedding (TM).  While the intentions of this program may be pure, I think it’s sending a number of dangerous messages.  

First of all, it’s worth noting that the contestants come from a wide range of dress sizes, and that the woman with the smallest dress size entered (Kacey, a size 8 at the start of the competition, according to her audition video) is smaller than the goal dress size of the largest woman entered (Tina, an 18W according to her audition video, whose goal is a size 14).  So it may seem that there is no “ideal” dress size, right?  And that’s good, right?  Think again.  These women are actually all going for the same goal, and that goal is “smaller”.  These women evidently feel that they should not be happy with their current bodies, often against their better judgement.  Tina, for example, has been afflicted with asthma for most of her life, and “know[s] exercise will start triggering things,” but is still willing to put herself through rigorous training in order to reach her goal of being “smaller”.  Meanwhile, Kacey, who does not even remotely resemble what anyone in their right mind would consider “fat”, points out cellulite on her rear end and admits that she “think[s] it’s genetic”, yet still attributes it to “drinking too much soda”.  So basically, she’s blaming her lifestyle for something that she actually knows she can’t help.  And that’s all kinds of effed up.  A lot of the contestants also seem to be more concerned with how other people perceive their bodies than how they personally feel about their own bodies.  One contestant, Jamie, says in her audition tape, “I would really love to wear a strapless gown.  But I don’t wanna have to subject people to things like my arms,” she says, and moves her arms in a way that the fat and extra skin under her upper arms jiggles.  I think it’s very sad that she feels the need to get rid of this “problem”, because it’s something that just about everyone has (heck, I’m a scrawny little twig, and even I have a little jiggle under my arms), and also because she feels that she’d be doing others a disservice by not getting rid of it.  Which is, once again, all kinds of effed up.  One thing I find really disturbing is the women who want to “look good” for the sake of their future husbands.  “I want my fiance to say ‘What a smokin’ hot body she has!’ and he can’t wait to just kiss my face off,” says one contestant, while another tearfully says “I would just want my fiance to say — to say I look beautiful.”  Which makes me wonder what their fiances think of them at their current weight.  It saddens me to think that anyone would plan to spend the rest of their life with someone who does not think they’re beautiful the way they are.  This is not to say that the contestants’ fiances really think their future wives could be any more beautiful than they already are, but it makes me sad to think that anyone would choose to lose weight for the benefit of anyone other than themself, especially their life partner.  

As for the activities the contestants are put through on the shows, their trainers are literally working them to the point of illness.  The goal of this program appears to be more concerned with numbers than actual “commitment to a healthy lifestyle.”  The contest seems to be about who can lose the most weight the fastest, and punishes those who do not lose enough weight by eliminating them from the program.  And while weight loss is often a result of a healthy lifestyle, it is often thought of as the goal.  However, one’s health should not be measured in weight alone.  When one starts to make an effort towards a healthy lifestyle, they cannot always expect immediate results.  Exercise can be very beneficial to one’s health, but exercising to hard in order to lose weight as soon as possible is probably not the healthiest thing to do.  Neither weight loss nor health should be a timed contest, because weight loss is unhealthy if rushed and a healthy lifestyle should never have a time limit.  What’s worse about Bridal Bootcamp is that these women are all competing against each other, and only one will win in the end.  The objective of the contest seems to be that whoever punishes her body the most, wins a Dream Wedding (TM).  These women are hurting themselves while trying to assert superiority over others.  That sounds like a lose-lose situation to me, Dream Wedding prize notwithstanding (who decides what a “dream wedding” is, anyway?).  Bridal Bootcamp may have only ran three episodes so far, but it’s already given the impression of doing nothing but breed mistrust and insecurity.  

And what kind of message is this show sending the viewer?  That women should not be happy with their bodies until they’ve reached a smaller size?  That a bride cannot be happy unless she’s already sacrificed years’ worth of weight?  This show also perpetuates the myth that health = weight loss = beauty, when these three things are totally independent of each other.  Weight is a concrete thing:  you can tell just by comparing numbers who out of two individuals is heavier.  We all know that 110 lbs is heavier than 90 lbs.  Fair enough.  However, we should not pretend that we can gauge any other information about these two individuals from their weight, or at least not solely by their weight.  Contrary to popular belief, a 90 lb person is not inherently more or less healthy than a 110 lb person of the same height.  There are too many factors when it comes to judging health; we should not be measuring it in pounds.  Even more dangerous is trying to measure beauty in pounds.  Beauty is a totally subjective thing, though a society may sometimes fool us into thinking it’s objective.  I think it’s safe to assume that all the contestants on Bridal Bootcamp are thought of as beautiful by their future husbands, else why would they have gotten to the point of getting engaged?  If there’s one thing all the women on Bridal Bootcamp have in common besides their impending weddings, it is that they are all beautiful, yet for some reason believe that they are not beautiful enough; that they must improve their looks before they can feel happy with themselves.  Assuming Bridal Bootcamp does give all these women the bodies they love, what they really need is love for their bodies.  

Oh, and one last thing bothers me:  why is there no male equivalent of “bridal bootcamp”?  Or do only women need to feel inadequate in their own bodies?  C’mon, VH1, please get back to showing more music videos so we don’t need to be subjected to this crap.  I’ll settle for reruns of Pop-Up Video…  

Entertaining AND educational. Man, do I miss this show...

 

Sorry for keeping you waiting, guys… June 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — yourbirdcansing88 @ 2:42 PM

Hello, readers, I know that since I declared this week “Bitch About the Media and Stuff Week” nothing new has popped up yet, but I promise, I will have at least one new entry posted before midnight.  I’m currently writing a critique on Bridal Bootcamp, one of the latest reality shows that VH1 has been broadcasting in lieu of anything remotely related to music.

 

I Hereby Declare the Next Seven Days to be “Bitch about the Media and Stuff Week” — or — It’s My Blog and I Can Whine if I Want To June 23, 2010

Filed under: Bitchings About the Media and Stuff — yourbirdcansing88 @ 10:18 PM
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"This is an outrage!" -- Tony Harrison, strategically gifted alien shaman and Fleetwood Mac fan. No known relation to Beatle George.

That’s right.  I, the sole current contributor to this blog, had the unmitigated audacity (not 100% sure what that means, but I heard it in a Frank Zappa song) to declare a theme week for my very own blog.  For a number of reasons, the first being that this blog hasn’t had a themed week since “Beatles Week” of aught nine.  Also, as a music blogger, I tend to consume a lot of the media’s output, particularly when it comes to music.  Yet, there’s a lot of stuff going on in the media right now that pisses me off.  And not only does it cut into serious music-listening time (I’m looking at you, irrelevant commercials and TV shows that have nothing to do with music on channels that once had any semblance of being music-centric), but they also seriously bother me as a feminist and a reasonably intelligent human being.  Seriously, media.  Stop feeding me crap.  So I figured that I’d take the following week to gripe about the following: 
  1. The questionable, offensive and/or downright stupid messages that bombard me while I’m waiting for the commercial break to end and bring back the freakin’ music already before I throw something hefty against the TV/radio.
  2. Companies that think they can get away with using an unsung musical genius’s timelessly beautiful and ethereal music to sell themselves since said unsung musical genius became worm chow a long time ago and can’t keep this kind of travesty from happening (I’m looking at you, AT&T).
  3. The demographics that I’m falsely assumed to be part of by every TV station/radio station/music magazine that I consume regularly.  Expect a feminist take on the implications of these so-called “target audiences”.
  4. Whatever happened to certain so-called music channels (*cough-cough* VH1 *cough-cough* MTV) actually being, ya know, music channels?
  5. Why I’m starting to re-think my ambitions to write for Rolling Stone magazine unless I start seeing some changes.
  6. Ways that I think music-related media can improve their attempts to pay the bills and/or pander to an audience.  Not that I’m an expert or anything on marketing.  I am, however, an experienced consumer.
Oh, yeah, and I’m also using this week as an excuse to incorporate lots of pictures accompanied by quotes by some of my favorite obscure/semi-obscure pop-culture figures (mostly from The Mighty Boosh, now that I think of it) relating to what I think about various aspects of the media.  For example:

"Time for a break. Let's have a licorice rolly, a double brandy, and bitch about the industry. Who the #@&% is John Simm?" -- Montgomerey Flange, the greatest actor who's never lived (outside of the Boosh Universe, that is).

P.S.  To any of the few readers I may have:  feel free to post your opinions in the comments section.  I get lonely talking to myself all the time over here.  I need some feedback.     

 

Video of the Week: “Holiday” by Vampire Weekend

Well, summer’s finally officially here (though I’ve been home on summer break for over a month, but that’s a college thing).  And there’s nothing like Vampire Weekend to get one in the summer spirit, so I thought I’d celebrate the season with the band’s latest video, the incredibly summer-tastic “Holiday”.  It’s a feel-good, silly video featuring the band cruising in a convertible, crashing pool parties, frolicking on the beach, spraying grafitti, eating some scrumtious-looking dessert, getting into brawls with surfer dudes, and involving themselves in various other shenanigans.  Oh, yeah, did I mention they’re doing all this while inexplicably dressed like extras from Amadeus?  Hey, don’t question it, just enjoy it.  Because I’m warning you, I plan to spend the rest of the week on this blog ranting.  More on that later, though.

 

I Never Thought I’d Look Forward to an Episode of “That Metal Show”… June 11, 2010

"Does this guy know how to party or what?!" --Wayne Campbell

…but I’m looking forward to the episode premiering tomorrow at 11:00 p.m.  Why, you may ask?  Oh, I dunno, maybe because ALICE FREAKIN’ COOPER, THE COOLEST OLD-SCHOOL METAL DUDE IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD is going to be on the show.  That’s why I’m looking forward to this particular episode of what I normally consider to be one of the blandest programs on VH1 Classic (I guess maybe it’s ’cause I don’t really consider myself a metalhead, though I do like a good deal of old-school metal.  And maybe it’s because the show’s a little too much talk, not enough rawk for my tastes).  But if anyone can make it worth watching, it’s Mr. Cooper.  I mean, come on, the guy makes golf seem almost badass.

 

Help Me. My Childhood Memories (and my appetite) have been violated in the Worst Possible Way.

Filed under: Rants and Raves — yourbirdcansing88 @ 4:08 PM
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On the subject of things that probably shouldn’t be sexualized…

I like me some early-morning music videos.  Especially since, with the exception of Fuse and some of the “specific interest” offshoots of MTV and VH1 on digital cable (i.e. MTV Hits, VH1 Soul, VH1 Classic), most “music channels” nowadays  stop showing anything remotely related to music (beyond the odd “Top 100 Blah Blah Blah” specials and dating shows in which the “prize” is a date with some rock star or rapper, but that hardly counts) by late morning.  So if I wanna get my fix, I best get it early in the morning.  Well, as I was flipping through the channels this morning:  I came upon a disturbing sight on VH1:  a teaser trailer for Katy Perry’s upcoming music video, “California Gurls” (as far as I know, having nothing to do with the Beach Boys hit of the same name.  Thank God).  And as if Katy hasn’t already caused me enough pain by releasing somewhat sexist and deceivingly homophobic (not to mention torturously catchy) songs like “I Kissed a Girl”, “Ur So Gay”, and “Hot ‘n’ Cold”, she has to put a sexual spin one of my favorite childhood board games now.  I am, of course, referring to Candy Land.  I could almost forgive the incredibly cheesetastic (not to mention oh-so-subtle) whipped-cream-with-a-cherry-on-top bra she’s got on (gettin’ real creative there, aren’t we?), not to mention the (even more subtle) projectile-whipped-cream bra (aw, who am I kidding.  Katy, there’s nothing sexy about lactation.  It’s an important function that some women choose to provide nourishment to their infants.  Please don’t trivialize it by making it look sexual.  Unless that bra was supposed to simulate some other bodily function.  In which case, no, having two penises located where your boobs should be is not sexy either.  It’s freakin’ disturbing).  No, it’s the fact that Perry is doing this all while clearly trying to portray Queen Frostine.  Well, at least she chose a character who is ostensibly an adult.  It could have been worse I guess.  She could have decided to dress up as Princess Lolly.  But still.  And Candy Land has been through enough BS in the past couple of years, what with their giving the game a makeover, turning Queen Frostine from a regal blue-haired snow queen to a blonde, Barbie-clone princess (that’s right.  They’ve demoted her.  And now Lolly isn’t even a princess anymore.  She’s just…Lolly.  And they’ve totally done away with plumpy, the lovable green fuzzball and guardian of the gingerbread plum trees) without Perry ruining it further.  Well, I have to give her credit:  at least she’s going for the old Queen Frostine look rather than the new-and-unimproved Princess Frostine look.  That still doesn’t make me happy about what she’s doing to my childhood memories.  But I’ll get over it.  After all, I guess not all of Katy Perry’s stuff is terrible…I actually kind of liked “Waking Up in Vegas”…and actually, the song “California Gurls” doesn’t sound half bad.  Not amazing, but not bad…just…the video…*shudders*

 

*Screams Like a Teenage Girl at a Beatles Concert in the ’60s*

OMG, did you hear?!  Jack flipping White and Conan mother-effing O’Brien played a show together at the Third Man Records headquarters last night!  Unfortunately, what with their being all the way over in Nashville, Tennessee, and my being stuck all the way over here in Middle of Nowhere, New Jersey, I was unable to witness this historical moment.  But, the show has apparently been recorded and pressed on vinyl (sweet sweeeeeeet vinyl), and while it hasn’t been made totally clear yet whether or not those records were intended only for the attendees of the concert or for the general public as well, the point is this:  there now exists a recording of Conan O’Brien and Jack White jamming together.  On vinyl.  And if this record ever gets released to those not lucky enough to have seen it live, you know I’m a-gettin’ it.  Because those guys are my heroes.  And now they’re together on vinyl (!!!!!!!!!!!).

You can read the details (as well as see some lovely photographs) of the gig here.

 

Well, you know it’s bad news when “Hannah Montana” starts looking palatable… June 10, 2010

About a year ago, I did not think that Miley Cyrus (let alone anyone else) could ever produce any video more nauseating than the diabetic coma-inducing one that accompanied “The Climb”.

Well, turns out I was wrong.  Oh, was I dead wrong.  And, while I really wish I could commend Ms. Cyrus for her effort to assert her independence and distancing herself from her Disney career (my personal views on her aesthetic musical quality notwithstanding), I think she’s going about it all wrong.  But I also cannot entirely blame her for the perverse travesty of a music video that is “Can’t be Tamed,” since it is clear that she was not the only person involved in the making of this video.  I have no idea if Cyrus is the one who came up with the concept, but whether she did or not, obviously a lot of people (i.e. the director(s), the producer(s), the distributor(s), the backup dancers, the extras, the special effects people, the costume designers, the TV station people who broadcast the video, etc.) must have thought the idea wasn’t absolutely horrible and allowed it to be made, distributed, and broadcast.

I have a number of problems with the video for “Can’t Be Tamed”.  First of all, the most obvious:  Miley Cyrus is seventeen flippin’ years old!  And most of her fans are much, much younger!  What the heck kind of message is this supposed to send?!  And let me just remind you all that I’m not against Miley Cyrus trying to be a serious, independent artist, and I know she has every right to voice her strong aversion to being “tamed”.  I also haven’t forgotten that teenagers can and do have active and healthy sex lives and should not be ashamed and/or afraid of their sexuality.  That’s fine.  However, there’s a difference between being sexually confident and being sexualized, and the latter is what’s going on in this video.  While this video may attempt to show that Cyrus is not a commodity, It’s actually turning her into a different kind of commodity.  While she once was (and is still) sold for consumption by girls in their ‘tweens, she is now being put forward as a commodity for adult consumption.  And in doing so, she is sacrificing even more of her identity than she had as a Disney star.  Much as the video for “The Climb” may be sickeningly sweet, much as it may be a cliche-filled color-saturated CGI nightmare, at its core is a girl who seems to have a very strong sense of self, who is not trying to be anyone else; content with who she is.  “Can’t be Tamed”, in contrast, shows Miley’s attempts to be “edgy” by taking on the roles and stereotypes assumed to be “sexy” and “dangerous” nowadays.  She’s pulling the ol’ “straight-girl-makeout” thing that seems to be so popular in (non-porn) videos nowadays, thanks in part to Katy Perry (I am not against girls kissing girls in videos.  In fact, if anything, I’d like homosexual activity to become more visible in mainstream pop culture, but merely pretending to be a lesbian because it seems like the hip thing to do or because it’s a turn-on for some men is the wrong way to go).  And putting Cyrus in outfits that bring a lot of attention to her cleavage and her legs is not going to make her look more mature, but will merely act to sexualize Miley’s youth.  Which is pretty stinkin’ gross, when you think about it.  And don’t even get me started on the whole bondage undertones (or are they overtones?) in this video.

Speaking of gross, what probably skeeves me out the most about this video is the fact that it is obviously aimed towards adults (and maybe older teens, but mostly adults).  I mean, the folks that see her caged in the beginning of the video, and proceed to act as voyeurs to her “exotic”-ness (oh, and I forgot to mention…the whole turning-Miley-into-some-kind-of-animal thing?  Yeah, that’s pretty effed-up too.  Way to dehumanize her further by turning her into some stereotype of an animal, guys.  And not a very original stereotype, either)?  Yeah, they’re all adults.  And even after the Mileybird tells these people off (by way of singing and dancing erotically.  Once again, ew), she still has the viewers at home to contend with.  The viewers who are probably adults.  And if there are any of her younger fans watching her, they probably won’t be able to understand or relate to what’s going on in the video.  They’ve never seen her doing anything like this before; they’re used to seeing her all happy and sparkly and sanitized.  Which, you know, can be pretty obnoxious for those well past childhood, but for kids, it’s A-okay.  And I’m not saying that Miley should make a lifelong career out of being a happy, sparkly, sanitized role model for kids whose soul is locked up somewhere inside the Disney vault; all I’m saying is that if she has to alienate all her old fans all at once in order to feel like a serious artist, she is not likely to attract many new fans or be taken all that seriously.  And also, there are better ways to be seen as a serious and independent artist than by sexing up one’s image or sacrificing individuality on the altar of “cool”.

 

Today’s post has been brought to you by LJ Lawrence and his fantastic facial hair of DOOM! June 6, 2010

Yup, this is totally the background on my laptop right now. Because LJ's new mustache is just THAT awesome.

Having lately viewed some recent images and videos of The Dead Weather (you know, that band I was all psyched about around the time I started this blog and since have written oodles and oodles of posts on of varying degrees of relevance?  Yeah, they’re back with a new album already.  And, amazingly, I have yet to get my hands on it), I couldn’t help but notice the manly new growth of hair on bassist Little Jack “LJ” Lawrence’s once-boyish face.  And since LJ, up until now, has probably changed the least in appearance out of all the people who’ve been in bands with Jack White (including Jack White himself, who seems to change his hairstyle every time a new album comes out.  Lately he seems to be sporting a vaguely girlish Alvin-Lee-at-Woodstock kinda ‘do — that is, if Alvin Lee decided to go goth at Woodstock, highly unlikely considering goth did not exist as a fashion statement until around the time The Cure came out, unless you want to count proto-goths like Alice Cooper and Sally Field.  Now, where was I?  Oh, yeah, LJ), and since I was just waiting for an excuse to dedicate an entire post to the world’s most adorkable bassist (who also happens to have some of the most gorgeous hair I have ever seen and I must find out what kind of shampoo and/or conditioner he uses), I decided what they hey?  So tonight, I celebrate my love for Little Jack.  As well as the power a mere mustache has to make what used to be one of the most innocuous-looking musicians ever to collaborate with Jack White (yes, even Meg would look almost hostile next to the pre-whiskered LJ) look downright sinister.  Like some absinthe-drinking evil genius who may or may not also be a vampire and/or warlock…  

For comparison, here are two music videos featuring LJ.  The first is an old video from one of LJ’s previous bands (as far as bands go, LJ is quite possibly the only artist in either The Dead Weather or The Raconteurs who is more prolific than Mr. White), The Greenhornes, where the nerdy-awesome bassist is clean-shaven and joins his bandmates to spread joy and peace and retro-delic swirls of color.  In the latter video, the latest from The Dead Weather, brief glimpses can be seen of LJ (although the video is dominated by frontpersons Alison Mosshart and Jack White) with his newfound whiskers of terror!  And naturally, this video is much darker.  Is this perhaps because of LJ Lawrence’s sudden aversion to the ol’ razor?  Probably not.  But that’s not going to keep me from pretending to theorize that LJ’s facial hair or lack thereof determines the degree of darkness in the videos he appears in (a theory which I know full well can be very easily refuted by the videos for The Raconteurs’ “Broken Boy Soldier” — no mustache, but still a plenty creepy video, esp. since I’m pretty sure Floria Sigismondi, the director of the “Broken Boy Soldier” vid also direced “Die By the Drop” — and Blanche’s very death-centric “Someday” — which not only features Little Jack with no facial hair, but also features him playing the banjo — how ominous could that possibly be?  The answer:  very).  Because I love making up weird theories like that in my spare time…you should hear my latest one about The Eagles’ “Hotel California” being a result of the song’s writer being possessed by the spirit of Shirley Jackson…except I actually almost believe that one myself.  Seriously, go and read “A Visit” and tell me “Hotel California” isn’t some sort of spiritual successor…but anyway, back to the LJ and the mustache business…  

By the way, it seems as though LJ now has not only a mustache, but a full-fledged goatee…check it out…  

 

Video of the Week: “Bad Boyfriend” by Pansy Division June 5, 2010

If you’ve been following my blog (don’t blame ya if you haven’t), you may have gathered from previous Videos of the Week that I have a weakness for the following:

  1. Ridiculously simplistic and/or low-budget videos (although the occasional cinematic masterpiece-type vid is nice, too).
  2. Lesser-known videos and/or bands.
  3. Children’s toys.

In keeping with these trends, I give you “Bad Boyfriend” by California queercore band Pansy Division.  The video seems to have been filmed on a budget of no more than $2 (though I doubt if it even cost that much) and stars an adorable but angsty polar bear plushie (and one that seems to have been through the wear and tear that tells of a long lifetime of love from its owner.  This goes for all the polar bear’s friends as well).  My personal favorite part of the video is the guitar solo, a close second being the trumpets coming in  at the end.  And by the way, I’m almost certain I own, or at least used to own, a dolphin just like the one used in this video.  Enjoy.