Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Beyoncé: Unrelatable

Everyone loves Beyoncé. LOVE LOVE LOVE, all the time, and it’s annoying. During the same brunch I mentioned in my last post, I told my friend that Beyoncé comes off as overly calculated. She mentioned Miley’s recent interview with Barbara Walters, in which the pop starlet stated that her intention behind recent behavior was to garner musical attention. “Isn’t that calculated?” Well, yes…but the difference is that Miley comes off as herself. All of Miley’s stints reveal her true personality, her real taste. Her messiness is who she is. Beyoncé’s calculatedness has the opposite effect; we know little about her. She sings about love, does an HBO documentary, and is constantly in the press, yet, it all seems inauthentic and FAKE. She comes off as perfect: perfect voice, perfect choreography, and perfect marriage. The latter is likely a falsity: any relationship has its struggles, and I wish she revealed some of her own. When she sings about sex and romance, it sounds like she’s regurgitating a made up storyline written by someone else, which may allegedly be the case. Beyoncé, I don’t believe you, so I can’t connect to most of what you do. I don’t relate to the parts of you I’m almost certain ARE true: you’re a millionaire superstar married to a millionaire superstar, vacationing on yachts commonly charted by millionaire superstars. Yes, I love watching you dance, but I’ll take Miley’s album, which (IMO) has only two good songs (Wrecking Ball & Adore You), over yours. When Miley sings about falling under a spell, you know exactly who she’s singing about, and you hear how real the lyric is to her, regardless of whether or not she wrote it. That, I relate to.  


Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Ralph Lauren City

During brunch, my friend mentioned that a gay someone she knew hated Boston for its supreme bro-ishness, which is a point I’ve been trying to make for YEARS. Everyone thinks Boston is oh so liberal, and politically speaking, it generally is, but when it comes to actual pragmatic progressivity, Boston is way behind New York. Walking down the street in mint jeans gets a few eye-raises (or maybe I’m so ridiculously self-involved as to be hallucinatory). Ideally, I’d enjoy making frat boys turned financiers uncomfortable, but actually, I’m scared of them; the stereotypical bro versus gay man dynamic reigns supreme (at least in my head).

Boston’s Irish & Italian-American hyper-masculinity seems to oppose its snotty Brahmin culture, but not when it comes to being a plain old weirdo. If you don’t fit into either of those categories, you don’t fit in anywhere, except perhaps Somerville, Cambridge, or Jamaica Plain. More on the latter later.

Boston is small, and for that reason, it presents a degree of comfort. Through much therapy, I’ve realized I’m not the dive-into-the-deep-end type; I can’t even commit to writing twelve blog posts in order to form an every-day writing habit. I like baby steps. Living in a small city is a baby step I need to take in order to ultimately dive into a fruity wonderland like New York (or London, or Paris, which I would most want to visit during fashion week if I were a pop star. The front row perks are dreamy).

Boston is also familiar, more familiar than any other city (because I’ve lived 30 minutes outside it my whole life), and familiarity provides another degree of comfort. Thus, it’s weird that a city I should so easily slide into seems to reject me. I’m no hipster; I almost unabashedly love Katy Perry’s music. (The “almost” equates to my being over the age of twelve and easily embarrassed.) There is nothing overtly ironic about me. I’m just odd and socially awkward. In high school terms, I’m obviously not a mainstream popular type, but I’m not the gothic rebel smoking pot by the dumpster, either. I fear them all. I’m the big backpack sporting (but not AT ALL sporty) kid with snot running down his nose, afraid to look people in the eye. I’m just a Plain Jane outsider, so it’s no wonder Boston isn’t MY place. It’s the anti-city of rejects. You best (1) be wearing a polo, baggy jeans, and round-toe shoes (EW!) OR (2) big swishy gym shorts and other assorted athletic attire OR (3) have a stylish reason to stand out, such as being a sexually ambiguous skinny jean wearing-type who loves noise like Sleigh Bells (the band) and lives in the aforementioned Somerville/Cambridge/Jamaica Plain area. Otherwise, you best get out.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ja’mie: Too Close for Comfort

Last night, I watched the first episode of Ja’mie: Private School Girl, expecting lots of guttural laughter. After all, the whole "man parodying a female archetype" premise seems very Saturday Night Live. Thus, you can imagine my surprise when all I produced were a few intermittent giggles and general sense of discomfort.

Perhaps it was a little too real, which usually is not an issue.  On SNL, the reality portrayed is endearing. Mike Meyers’ Linda Richman represents 75% of the sweetest, kindest Jewish women in Brooklyn, the ones who put a smile on your face, warmth in your heart, and food in your belly. However, Ja’mie’s reality is a character rotten to her core. Watching all thirty minutes, I was traumatically reminded of the shallow girls who littered my high school, teasing me and many others, completely insensitive to the insecurities of those around them, and most certainly out-of-touch with their own. 

As an adult, I have learned that they never truly change. Those gossipy, cruel girls dating attractive gay-bashing boyfriends transform into competitive Wall Street-marrying soccer moms who sublimate their depression with Neiman Marcus charge cards. Of course, there are exceptions, but some stereotypes exist for a reason. More often than not, they are true.

Part of my problem with Ja’mie is MYSELF! Around these types of women, I am a person I loathe. I become fake and nasty in an attempt to fit in with the girls who would never accept me in my adolescence. For the longest time, I wondered why, and most recently, I have come to understand. I mimic them, seeking their approval, my rationale being that if I gain it, they will not attack me. Thus, my feelings will not get hurt like they did so deeply years ago. This awareness provides me with a bit more power over my behavior, but I am still a work-in-progress. The Ja’mies of the world bring out the worst in me. I do not need a comical impression; I have lived the real thing, and it was not funny. It was torture.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Kim Kardashian: The Christmas gift that will keep on giving, even if you'd prefer she not

A Kardashian Christmas, by David LaChapelle
I love this Christmas card. As usual, David La Chapelle bridges art with pop, creating something beautiful. I’m tired of the “they’re famous for nothing” argument against the Kardashians. As Kanye said, Kim is famous for being beautiful (and whether it's real or not, who cares?). I’m sure she works as hard as Cindy Crawford ever did. Yes, maybe Kim didn’t have to pay her dues, but good for her. Can she teach me how to do the same?

I know what you’re thinking, “Barry, if that's what you want, then make a sex tape.” I have no issue with the fact that Kim did. What bothers me is that she never owned up to it in the way I wish she had. She allegedly filmed and leaked this video with someone who was then-current, after which she and her mother allegedly pitched a reality show with Kim at the center. If this was truly the case, then a smart move they did make, lighting many flames from just a spot of oil, like the Maccabees. As most of us know, this one little sex tape ultimately turned into a pop-cultural and merchandising empire. A Happy Hanukkah, indeed!

THE Modern-Day Marilyn
However, I would have preferred that Kim be what some call a post-feminism feminist, a la Madonna or Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones (although, according to Gloria Steinem, no such phenomenon exists, as feminism is a fight yet to be won). Kim could have said, “Yes, I used sex and my body to become famous and make a lot of money, and there is nothing wrong with that, because I was the one in control. I made that decision, using my sexuality to empower MYSELF.” This would have been rad. Instead, once Kim began to ascend the entertainment industry ladder, she claimed regret. In my opinion, this was a tactic Kris Jenner allegedly decided would solidify Kim’s A-list status, because sex, in the explicit sense, is still considered unbecoming of a true Hollywood siren. A classy star is supposed to insinuate sexuality, without ever truly acknowledging it. How regressive?

Regardless, Kim’s star does shine as bright as those of her famous-because-they’re-talented peers (see: Beyoncé, Katy Perry, etc.). She has entered an elite league that so many famous-for-nothings before her, including Paris Hilton and Zsa Zsa Gabor, longed to join. She is the first A-list reality star, and to not put this woman, who draws more intrigue than boring Reese Witherspoon or Charlize Theron, on Vogue’s cover seems a surprisingly out-of-touch move for an editor who was, at one point, so ahead of the curve as to replace cover models with Hollywood stars right as celebrity culture was gaining steam. That’s Anna Wintour's loss, though. Her time at the top may be dwindling, but whether you like it or not, Kim K. is here to stay.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

I just want to say something brief about GaGa...

The Lady during her creative and cultural peak in November of 2009
From an outsider’s perspective (a.k.a. MINE), it looks as though Gaga is allegedly drugged up all the time - shaky, facially bloated, and unfocused (IMO). Contrary to how she was from about 2008 to 2010, Gaga seems completely unaware of how people perceive her. People can defend the Lady all they want, and she does indeed deserve much praise for pop-cultural domination so great, it hasn’t existed since the days of Michael and Madonna. Furthermore, her stellar work for the LGBT community should not go unnoticed, and to that, I say, “thank you, Gaga.” However, something is clearly off when one parts ways so publicly with so many:
  1.  Troy Carter, management
  2. Perez Hilton, pop-cultural blogger
  3. Nicole Formichetti, stylist and designer
  4. Laurieann Gibson, choreographer
  5. Rob Fusari, record producer

This look: Breakfast at Tiffany's in '80s Paris
Upon first arriving onto the scene, she really understood what she was doing. Gaga GOT it. The preeminent pop-cultural theme was twittering messy starlets with long blonde hair a la Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and Lindsay Lohan (a part-time blonde). Gaga fused this look with the advent of modern computer technology, pairing light-up sunglasses with a pleather leotard and gloved concoction most gay men dream of wearing. She was so on point that Beyoncé’s Sasha Fierce and Rihanna’s Rated R personae seemed completely derived from the ‘60s princess/‘80s drag queen Gaga had brought to life. She truly was a walking, breathing Warholian portrait, hair bow and all.

When one analyzes people who have so deeply penetrated the pop-cultural landscape for so long, one should know how these types operate. I can’t say with certainty, but I’m almost positive that Madonna and Warhol, upon realizing their ambitions, recognized that they could not touch drugs if they wanted to have the stamina and levelheadedness necessary to grow into long-term pop icons. I believe both took much inspiration from the trips and highs of those around them, but they realized that in order to capitalize on creativity, they needed to be clear-minded enough to mean business. You can’t be in a haze and run your company successfully for three decades. Even the most functioning of addicts would eventually collapse.

This brings me to the Born This Way album and look. The songs were so incredibly
This look: MESS
overproduced that all the layers jumbled together into plain old noise, with lots of loud, unnecessary rock guitars. The aesthetic, composed of this weird blonde and black hair combo, was a total mess. The only person who can pull off skunk hair is Daphne Guinness, point blank period.

We all hoped that Gaga would redeem herself with Artpop, but honestly, where are the SONGS? Most of the tracks sound like exactly that, DJ beats upon which Gaga sprinkles some singing. Where are the great melodies? This girl can write a killer chorus – have you heard Aura? It’s the rest of the song that sounds like an Arabian Western nightmare. Yes, I’m talking to you, Infected Mushroom. You snobby idiots don’t want to be associated with Gaga? You should be so lucky. Go make some good music.

Anyway, Gaga, I used to say, “Well, at least she’s doing what she wants, completely unadulterated,” but even I don't believe myself anymore. If you were sober (assuming that you’re allegedly not), you would hear this pile of poo you’re making.

Peace out.