Posts tagged ‘religion’

April 24, 2011

From “Sunset Boulevard” to Madison Avenue: You’ve come a long way, baby

How do you resurrect a decade long moribund singing and/or acting career?

You don’t.

You simply move on.

That business called show, has come a long way since the fictional Norma Desmond shuttered herself in a Sunset Boulevard mansion, with only a supremely faithful butler and a pet monkey to comfort the pain of the irrelevance imposed onto a once glorious star by the vagaries of the ever changing buying public.

Yes, much has changed in the 61 years since the release of the Billy Wilder classic film, starring Gloria Swanson as the mad woman and William Holden as her reluctant boy toy: Your star turn doesn’t have to end pathetically and tragically as Norma’s did when she looks into the camera and emotes “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”

These days, you don’t have to cage yourself in on Sunset Boulevard if you’re willing to hawk yourself on Madison Avenue. No, your star turn can end pathetically, tragically–and here, is the kicker–and lucratively when you pack on the pounds and  look into the camera for your Jenny Craig commercial.

Or, in the case which fascinates me most at the moment, look into the camera for Gucci and Gillette–with your children in tow.

If you’re Jennifer Lopez, you move on by becoming a judge on American Idol and a brand ambassador, as it is now tres chic to call paid female celebrities whose career was headed into the “Sunset Boulevard” years but for the power of Madison Avenue.

This of course will bring a smile to the faces of those of you familiar with Alexis de Tocqueville’s masterwork Democracy In America.

The entirely democratic desire to go beyond your sphere often leads men in democracies to want to enhance a very coarse profession by a Greek or Latin name. The lower an occupation and the more removed from knowledge, the more pompous and erudite is the name. This is how our tightrope walkers have transformed themselves into acrobats and funambulists.

I don’t now about you, but I was completely taken aback by the  Gucci ad campaign featuring Jennifer Lopez and her children. Haven’t we, you might rightly ask, become culturally committed to condemning Kate plus 8 moms and Octomoms and Charlie Sheen babymoms for dragging their children into the limelight for a buck or two? Isn’t the argument–and hasn’t it been up till now–that what matters most is what’s best for the children?

Well, it turns out, Jennifer and the good folks at Gucci were one step ahead of us. Neither party was willing to leave the ads to speak for themselves as a purely commercial transaction between Ms. Lopez and the launch of the Gucci children’s collection. No, that would have been a bit crass. What made it a bit less crass, classy almost, was the declaration by both parties that the  partnership was– get this– an act of resounding charity.

In order to make the ads go down smoothly, Gucci loudly agreed to make charitable donations to UNICEF and to the Maribel Foundation, which was founded by  Ms. Lopez and her sister. Watch the video here from the Gucci website promoting the acts of charity, if you want to see how even more  surreal and twisted the fashion industry can be than the drunken ravings of John Galliano.

You gotta love the current celebrity fascination with drafting African children into their money laundering schemes. Could it be that they  think Africans are so dumb that they won’t notice they’re mere pawns in  s(l)ick  self serving marketing campaigns that appeal to liberal white guilt?

Just asking because the same clebs, Oprah chief among them, find it much easier to justify vanity projects in Africa than  real hard work on the 3rd world conditions here in the US, including prison reform for black men who somehow get life imprisonment for minor drug dealings when the overwhelming drug consumer is affluent and white. The criminal justice system since the Reagan administration is the  Holocaust of the black community but apparently among  fashionable people of any color, that’s an unfashionable truth. African babies can at least be shopped for as if they were Ralph Lauren paint shades. And what’s more fun than duty free shopping?

And just when I though I had been a good boy by biting  my tongue on the whole matter since October, yesterday out comes Ms. Lopez’s new “Mr. DeMille moment” for Gillette.

You should be particularly struck here by the only rationalization that could trump charity: religion.

“With Venus, Reveal the goddess in you!” may actually be rather pagan religiosity, but religiosity nonetheless. And who could argue with you about using your children to resurrect  your career when you invoke religion just around Easter?

See how all of this works? And you thought the scene in Sunset Boulevard where Norma Desmond stages an elaborate funeral for the monkey was the height of absurdity.

You were wrong. The height of absurdity is Jennifer Lopez pitching you a drugstore product that intimates that you too can have her legs, her beauty, her sexiness, her commercial appeal (not to mention her trainer, her makeup artist, hairdresser, stylist, nanny, etc) all while you truck your kids from ballet to soccer in your minivan after work, wearing Lulu Lemon ( on a good day) and thinking how the hell to convince your kids you are more than a personal assistant, let alone a goddess.

Now that’s some monkey on your back, isn’t it?

Tom Kolovos is the Editor In Chief of aControlledSubstance.

April 24, 2011

“This Week with Christiane Amanpour: God and Government.” Watch the full episode here.

This is one of those instances where I will reserve comment and encourage you watch for yourself.  I’ll only say that I think this is perhaps the most thought provoking (and at some points frightening)  programming on Sunday morning network television in quite some time. 

Watch the full episode from April 24th by clicking on the image.

March 22, 2011

There’s an App for That, Jolene?

Apple has again come under fire for approving an iPhone app that promises to cure homosexuality.

Yes, you read that correctly.

By the time you read this, Apple will have probably come to its senses and removed the idiotic app from the iTunes store.

If there really is a  market for apps on human sexuality, and there is, I would suggest that this would be a great time for The Kinsey Institute to issue an app of the Kinsey Scale.

The research has been around since 1948, for God’s sake. I think it’s about time it moves into the 21st century with its own app.

Until that happens, perhaps everyone should take a listen to The White Stripes essential cover of the Dolly Parton classic “Jolene.”

Why? Because  hearing Jack White beseech in his trademark wail “Jolene, Jolene I’m begging of you please don’t take my man” will give you the essence of Kinsey’s work: how complicated and multidimensional human sexuality really is.

And there ain’t no cure for that.

Related post: There’s an App for That, Maggie!

February 18, 2011

A Heart Like Mine

I think this song makes a nice companion piece to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” This video is from a live acoustic performance. The single appears on Ms. Lambert’s excellent CD “Revolution”.

October 28, 2009

MORE FAGS, MORE FUN

tom_kolovos_wordpressnewI’m pretty sure the Catholic Church doesn’t like gay people because in its experience gay people are a pain in the ass. Sort of how Mary Stuart (Queen of Scots) must have felt about Queen Elizabeth I.

Given that Jesus said not a single word in the Bible about homosexuality, the utter contempt that the Catholic hierarchy has for gays is in large part understandable because it is informed by its perverse experience of conflating  homosexuality with  the rampant unchecked pedophilia in its ranks and the laundry list of sins committed in the still persistent cover up.

In the movie “Heathers,” when Winona Ryder is asked point blank “why are you such a bitch?” the only possible answer is “because I can be.” You can’t imagine  what a terrorist bitch the Catholic Church is in the lives of gay people.  Consider, for example, the complicated dance between the Catholic Church and the breakaway factions of the Anglican Church (Episcopalians in the US), a dance which began back when Henry XIII picked a little fight with the Vatican over some women and their inability to produce little boy babies.

This week, the Pope and the entire Catholic hierarchy, which  has been/ still is pardoning and harboring child molesters in its ranks for God only knows how long, is now openly accepting  disgruntled homophobic married Anglicans priests and their congregations who object to such 21st century nonsense as openly gay or female clergy and gay civil unions (and  let’s not forget condoms) into the Catholic fold.

(I left the Anglican Church and all I got was this lousy T-shirt: YOU HATE GAY PEOPLE? WELCOME. PSSSST: AND IF YOU WANNA F**K SOME LITTLE BOYS TOO, NO PROBLEM! We’ve got a primo 9 year old or two with the body of 7  a year old. Right this way.)

This move, while characteristically reactionary, is not altogether unfathomable since historically the Church hasn’t exactly been in the vanguard of human rights or anything that might be called progress. Western history of the last 500 years can plausibly be seen as one giant bitch slap to the Vatican.

When you consider that Martin Luther declared “every man his own priest” and led  the Protestant Reformation which gave rise to the political theory of John Locke  which led to the Declaration of Independence, the much vaunted Vatican II  did nothing more than bring the Catholic Church straight into the 16th century.

Homosexuality, thus understood, is understandably a pain the ass.  So what could possibly be wrong with something to ease the pain? Think of homophobia as the Catholic Church’s answer to universal health care. Happy gay people and openly gay clergy? Not in this 16th century or any other.

It shouldn’t surprise the world, I suppose, that a German Pope who was a member of the Nazi youth, where homoerotica was more rampant than an Abercrombie + Fitch ad campaign, would throw a welcome party for homophobes. After all, the last time the Germans threw a party, they threw a Holocaust. “Burn, baby burn. It’s a disco inferno.”

Yes, the Jews were the first order of business of the Third Reich but gays were the second. You’d think that the Church would be inclined to learn from its mistakes. In a recent essay, Ginia Bellafante assessed the rise and fall of the subjects of  real estate reality shows lamenting that the Bravo hit Flipping Out “lays fraud to the idea that misfortune builds character and makes us better people. Mr. Lewis does not become a better person. He remains greedy, petulant, small-minded, arrogant without justification, ill-tempered, ungenerous — singularly detestable.” Il Papa is in the house.

Projecting his own Nazi past and the misery of pedophiles onto gay people is doubly detestable.  And no fun at all. Maybe next June “God’s Rottweiller” should go to Gay Days at Disney in Orlando and meet Kitty Meow for a Red Bull summit.

It might be instructive for the entire Church to see how “the happiest place on earth,” a creation of  a closeted gay man named Walt Disney, and the very place which once scorned gay people in the name of “family values,” now welcomes them by the hundreds of thousands each year during the first week in June.

Hey Ben, you don’t know what fun is until you’ve been bumping and grinding on a dance floor at  MGM studios, as you look up to the heavens and see  Kitty Meow, Chyna Girl and Power lip synch to the throbbing techno beat remix of Mary Mary’s spiritual “Shackles” (“take the shackles off my feet so I can dance, I just wanna praise You”)  and doing scissor kicks, each on a 3 story cherry picker, while climactically strategic fireworks explode  behind the Magic Kingdom. Unspeakable joy!

While the world has changed enough that gay tattooed love boys  can be found partying and tripping on the dance floor  to the drum and base beat (shirtless and flaunting their six packs, great America) at Gay Days, you don’t have to be Einstein, baby, to see that Pope Ben is flipping out.

Benedict XVI (or as he will properly be known in American human rights circles, Benedict Arnold II) is guilt tripping on  internalized self loathing  and bumping and grinding to the drumbeat of the ideology of the Nazi party of his youth. “No blacks no Jews and no gays.” No if and or but for the grace of God there go I.

But what do I know? I’m just a boy standing in front of a Pope asking him to love me. ( I’ll follow you around until you love me, Papa, Papanazi.)

Good thing I refuse to kneel.

TheBestDressedList.com

TomKolovos.com

October 18, 2009

Every picture tells a story, don’t it?

tom_kolovos_wordpressnew

All dressed up and nowhere to go? You’re not alone.

You’ve got the 4 models in the Victor Skrebneski produced fashion feature in the 27th anniversary issue of Today’s Chicago Woman to keep you company.  Spread on the floor, each in a 2 page spread,  in various stages of orgasmic exhibitionism which every couture clad professional gal surely finds herself now and again and again, the first model appears to be using her bejeweled bangled hand to pocket pool herself and, when she reappears at the end, she’s using her entire forearm to anally….WTF?

“Success stories don’t get much better than this” proclaims the cover. Really? Yes, the caption does, in all fairness, refer to the real estate agent on the cover but who cares about her and her success when Skrebneski locates the multiple listing service in your G spot?

In stark contrast, and  as conceived by Maurizio Cattelan and  photographed by Pierpaolo Ferrari, the cover of the November issue of W magazine is  part of what the editors describe as a “politically and religiously charged portfolio” starring Linda Evangelista.

I can’t guarantee that what you’ll find inside the pages of the 4th annual “art issue” has any more or less artistic merit than what you find inside Today’s Chicago Woman, but  I am sure that the cover photo has a  politically charged urgency that taps into the global zeitgeist and that stops you dead in your tracks as it sets your mind racing.

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Here’s the surreal juxtaposition of Linda”I don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day” Evangelista, the most cinematic of the 80’s “greed is good” supermodels, a good deal more rotund  than current standards allow but no less the superb “still actress” she always was, holding a cardboard sign that declares “IT MUST BE SOMEBODY’S FAULT.”

As obvious as the cardboard sign is to read (and agree with if it refers to the global economic meltdown), what it means depends on how you read it. For starters, where in that sentence is the correct inflection? (Fans of the masterful film writer and director John Sayles will recall the “I didn’t ask for the anal probe” scene from Passion Fish.)

And how does one read that sign given the rest of the images in the photo?

She’s is, after all, wearing an Oscar de la Renta dress and $1,699,000.00 in De Beer’s diamond jewelry including a double cross. She’s perfectly manicured, coiffed and made up but the expression on her face is alarmingly vacant.  What, if anything, is really bothering, bewildering and bewitching her? An American flag can be seen  clearly affixed to a building behind her. The gaze of the suited black male is ambiguously affixed to her? To us? To the studly white uniformed male intruding in the right foreground?

Who is she? Victim? Perpetrator? Prophet? Judge? Jury? Grand Inquisitor?  Who are the men and who are they to her?

And what is IT? The spectacular fall of the supermodel? The divulsion of the unregulated derivative/Bernie Madoff ponzi economy?  The inability of Miley Cyrus to, like,  construct a proper sentence in, like, English ? The collapse of the luxury goods market? Is she sympathetic or pathetic?

Life imitated art Thursday night, making the timing of the politically and religiously charged portfolio even more prescient, at a town hall meeting in New Orleans where President Obama was asked by Tyren Scott, a  4th-grader, “Why do people hate you? And why, aren’t they supposed to love you, if God is love?”

The President came up with an unfortunately  simplistic and patronizing answer, as if to prove that you can graduate from Harvard and teach at the University of Chicago, but you’re still not smarter than a 4th grader. When Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd have lost any semblance of faith in your competence, you’re just stroking your own oversize ego when you declare:

“First of all, I did get elected president, so not everybody hates me; I got a whole lot of votes. A lot of it is what’s called politics, where once one party wins, the other party feels like they’ve got to poke you a little bit to keep you on your toes. So you shouldn’t take it too seriously.”

Seriously, Tyren, IT MUST BE SOMEBODY’S FAULT. And after 9 months of on the job ineptitude on foreclosure reform, health care reform, banking reform, immigration reform. ‘don’t ask don’t tell” reform and evisceration of every campaign promise by special interest politics, the fault lies squarely with Barck Obama. Location, location, location.

Good art sometimes thrives on ambiguity and even derives its meaning from it. Political leadership does not.

TheBestDressedList.com

tomkolovos.com