The supermarket where I shop plays music of a certain vintage (which, as we've recently discussed, could be anything from last year's Billboard Top 40 to ditties from the War of 1812). The other day it happened to be Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop". As I browsed the selection of veggie sushi, I thought of how appropriate this particular song is for the commencement season (forget about Clinton campaigning to it back in the 90s), especially a commencement season in which there isn't exactly a lot of cockeyed optimism being dished out for the class of 2010.
Of course, my brain started whirring and I tried to think of other oldies radio staples and bona fide pop classics (very loosely defined as songs at least as old as the kids I'd dedicate them to) that would suit the occasion. I came up with the following mental mix tape that I'd offer up to the country's newest crop of college grads. Feel free to chime in in the comments section with your own (more current/eclectic) selections.
The widely popular video game Bayonetta boasts an advertising campaign that rivals the onscreen sexism of the game itself. In Tokyo, a large billboard in the subway invited passersby to literally strip off flyers to reveal Bayonetta naked underneath. The campaign perpetuates and encourages sexual and physical harassment against women, an epidemic in Japan (and many other countries, including the United States). Check it out:
You've likely encountered the work of writer and editor Ada Calhoun—whether it's her editorial work on Babble.com, of which she was founding editor, her pieces for Time and New York magazines, or her blog conversation 90s Woman—where, among many other admirable feminist pursuits, she and author Kara Jesella try to pinpoint the "most 90s woman" song of 2010.
Now Calhoun has published her first book, Instinctive Parenting: Trusting Ourselves to Raise Good Kids, which chronicles her life as a new mother and outlines her parenting philosophy. Consider her the feminist lit voice for a back-to-basics approach to mamahood in the era of "helicopter parenting," the obsessive Gen X and Y response to the laissez-faire style of their parents. It may just be the only parenting book blurbed by Kathleen Hanna.
Page Turner recently interviewed Calhoun about her take on parenting culture, the gender spectrum in raising a boy, her "get out of hell" mantra for crisis moments, and how playground life circa 2010 really can evoke Heathers-era teen flicks.
Anyone who spends time on the web has seen the words FAIL splashed
across pictures of cats with their heads stuck in empty cans or dogs dressed by their humans
as Oompa Loompas. Don't get us wrong, those can be pretty funny. But
you know what's even better? Making the digital bombast of FAIL less
associated with the minor humiliations of pets, and more so with the
project of media reform -- which just may involve a more pointed, and
meaningful, kind of humilation.
It may be a bit late in the "Tuning In" series to reveal this, but, like some music critics, I watch Fox's American Idol. I still follow it even though the past few seasons have been lackluster. I caught the end of the first season, which Kelly Clarkson deservedly won (cue "Since U Been Gone" and rock out), but remained a hold-out for a few years until my partner got me following Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice's season four tête-à-tête.
However, I have a love-hate relationship with the program. Many of the contestants bore or irritate me and the winner is often not who I'd choose. It also frustrates me that the competition can seem a bit racist. The wrongful ousting of Tamrya Gray and Jennifer Hudson make this evident, as did Jordin Sparks's season six win, which came after darker-skinned contestants LaKisha Jones and Melinda Doolittle were voted off.
In addition, I think the show needs to end. Simon Cowell is leaving. Episode premises and possibilities for new mentors have been stretched. Idol Gives Back continues to bloat on its own self-importance despite its purported altruistic intentions. I've also seen far too many Ford music videos (though I did perk up when last season's group did a rendition of Lykki Li's "I'm Good, I'm Gone," as my synapses fire when indie and mainstream music culture coalesce).
This season has left me with little to latch onto. In a season that's been defined by artists packaging themselves as hipster- or indie-friendly, the majority of these contestants have demonstrated for me how disappointing it can be when underground music is co-opted by the mainstream. That many of these bland artists were pretty white women with little staying power is even more disheartening. Ellen DeGeneres has offered some perceptive advice. There have been a few noteworthy guest performances, including Lady Gaga's pared-down "Alejandro" and Rihanna's "Rock Star," which made me want to teach her how to actually play the guitar. Beyond that, there's the lone female contestant in the top three who I hope takes over the title on May 26th.
Lately, there's been a lot of talk (recession-driven in large part) about the real value of a college education, both in the media and that I've been privy to in my own circles. The youth unemployment rate hovers at 17% and even as the economy recovers, the specter of long-term effects on those who launch their careers during the downturn looms. With college and university commencements currently taking place all over North America, it seems like a perfect time to ask whether or not we should be encouraging so many HS students to enroll in college vs. pursuing technical or vocational training and whether a college education is really the ticket to future economic stability that it is portrayed to be.
I can empathize with students who hold graduate degrees and, due to a lack of options in their field, are returning to community college for more practical programs as a last-ditch effort to break into the workforce in a meaningful way or those from the class of 2010 who have done what they believed to be everything right (good grades, internship experience, volunteering, networking, assumption of big-time student loans) and whose introductions to the working world (which ain't exactly embracing them with open arms) will serve as a cold wake-up call.
A few days ago, the Hollywood Scoop reported the same crew behind HBO's boys & toys hit Entourage were cooking up another show for the network. This one would be a spin-off of Entourage, but this time based around women in Los Angeles. The only report is that it would be like Entourage meets Sex and the City - which is a bit confusing because it's all the same show. However, I'm looking at this development a bit more skeptically than usual.
Trouble is, HBO already aired a different show that the Entourage crew executive produced. It was called How To Make It In America, and if we've learned anything from the treatment of female character Rachel Chapman (played by Lake Bell), we know that a well-written woman is hard to find.