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The Ersatz and The Real

The Hollywood machine is trying hard to get me to love Katy Perry.  Songs in heavy rotation, images splashed everywhere; for whatever reason it’s just not taking, though.

Katy Perry’s retro-pinup style appears at first blush, like it would be ideally crafted to appeal to your correspondent’s affection for the glamour of yesteryear.  Something about it, though, is not quite tuned to perfection.  A closer examination could reveal that it’s mere marketing-machine, focus-group smoke and mirrors, something short of an all-encompassing embrace of the retro-aesthetic.  Proof, you say?

Contrast these two notable proponents of yesteryear’s style:  On the left, Katy Perry off-duty, shopping for clothes.  On the right, Dita Von Teese off-duty, shopping for groceries.

katy-ditaFor one, it’s just a job.  For the other, it’s a lifestyle.

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Why Gwyneth Paltrow is annoying


Simple—it’s genetics.

A scientific analysis of her mom’s filmography has determined that Blythe Danner has historically been so tooth-grindingly annoying in every role I have seen her, that I invariably want to smack her in the face with a shovel.

So there was never really any chance that Gwyneth could escape inheriting the “SHUT UP for pity’s sake” gene.

RELATED: Gwyneth makes friends on the set of her new movie.

So when do Mansbridge’s kids get G&M puff pieces?

Canada may not have celebutards on the scale of Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan, but we still get treated to idle puff pieces about the offspring of CanCon icons, like Caitlin Cronenberg.

When Toronto photographer Caitlin Cronenberg (yes, of those Cronenbergs) talks about her latest project, it’s clear just how attached she’s become to it – but the affair has run its course.

“I’ve loved every moment of the three years we’ve spent together, but I really feel like it’s time to take leave of each other,” she says of the collection of 136 nude photographs she’s assembled for a book, entitled POSER.

The book is the first major assembly of works by the burgeoning photographer and daughter of acclaimed filmmaker David Cronenberg. The black and white portraits evoke a stark naturalism, baring every mole, freckle, wrinkle and wisp of hair.

But they are less about nudity, Cronenberg says, than the subject’s interaction with the camera, and with the photographer. For most subjects, this was their first time posing nude before a camera.

— James Bradshaw, “Caitlin Cronenberg: armed with naked ambition“, Globe & Mail, April 14th, 2009.

Predictably, the Globe‘s comments are full of outrage at the fawning media coverage.  I am not outraged so much as mystified.  Ms. Cronenberg has some talent as a photographer—certainly more than I’ve accrued in a couple of years of digital photography—but a brief review of her online portfolio doesn’t fill me with much confidence that her book of monochrome nudes will be a landmark of virtuoso talent unleashed.

To be fair I think there are a few portfolio photos that are well-executed, or at least semi-interesting.  This one, for example, of Canadian actor Stephen McHattie.  Or this tough-guy image of her more famous father, for Eye Weekly. This quartet of photos featuring David and Caitlin Cronenberg are probably my favourite, first because they hint at ordinary, recognisable familial goofiness; second because the elder Cronenberg seems to be channeling Jason Mewes as Jay (as in Jay & Silent Bob).  Finally, this promotional photo for Toronto Stories makes good use of a sunset and the city’s skyline.  I also like this juxtaposition of the model’s body with the mannequin bodies.  Otherwise, the rest are unremarkable.  Pretty images, but nothing you won’t see done on a higher budget with better lighting in GQ or Vogue.

Now contrast those fairly ordinary images with the sumptuous worlds created by James Meakin and Michael Kelley.  Worlds of difference.

The sad thing about the Canadian media hothouse isn’t so much that it keeps its lidless gaze focused on the same old CanCon icons (and their offspring).  It is that so much of the ouput lauded with boundless praise is, in the final estimate, so terribly mediocre.  If we must have a culture industry crammed to the rafters with cozy, media-fuelled nepotism, is it too much to ask that they generate premium product?

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Drew Barrymore is alarming

drew_barrymore_1Back in the mid-to-late 80s, when I was just entering my teen years, and Drew Barrymore was just entering hers, I used to think she was kinda hot stuff.  Certainly Drew had all the qualifications that teens of my age sought: some semblance of sentience, an enormous mane of hair, a nice figure, a 20 Minute Workout outfit, and a willingness to wear it.  But like many youthful infatuations, I quickly forgot about Drew as her filmography consistently failed to include anything with guns, violence and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As the decades passed, it became common to see Ms. Barrymore shilling a plethora of crappy movies, plus endorsements for makeup products that claim to—but self-evidently fail—to match her skin tone.  Through this slowly intensifying media exposure, I began to realise that Ms. Barrymore had grown into a horrible monster, needing a smack in the face with a shovel.  Not because of anything she has said or done.  Mostly because she is a freak of nature.

pbs_logo What do you mean, I hear you asking.  Well, her forehead has suffered some kind of structural collapse, and now it and her nose are one big uninterrupted angle.  She has become the living embodiment of the PBS logo.  An accident of twisted advertising science come to horrible, monstruous life.  There’s the logo on the right.  Now compare to the photos below:


That girl ain’t right.  Please, medical science, come up with a cure for whatever is affecting her fivehead, and get it back to its normal position and angle.  We already have a PBS logo; isn’t one enough?

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The Second Civil War is upon us!

Actually, it’s upon you, since I’m not an American.

Earlier this week, Erica Jong and several pop-culture luminaries wet their pants due to severe lack of a) perspective, b) contact with ordinary human beings, and presumably c) non-violent contact with people of colour.

A few days ago, Jong, an author and self-described feminist, gave an interview to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera

Here’s a translation of Jong’s more spirited quotes to the Milan-based Corriere, as selected by Rocca.

“The record shows that voting machines in America are rigged.”

“My friends Ken Follett and Susan Cheever are extremely worried. Naomi Wolf calls me every day. Yesterday, Jane Fonda sent me an email to tell me that she cried all night and can’t cure her ailing back for all the stress that has reduces her to a bundle of nerves.”

“My back is also suffering from spasms, so much so that I had to see an acupuncturist and get prescriptions for Valium.”

“After having stolen the last two elections, the Republican Mafia…”

“If Obama loses it will spark the second American Civil War. Blood will run in the streets, believe me. And it’s not a coincidence that President Bush recalled soldiers from Iraq for Dick Cheney to lead against American citizens in the streets.”

“Bush has transformed America into a police state, from torture to the imprisonment of reporters, to the Patriot Act.”

— Jason Horowitz, “Erica Jong Tells Italians Obama Loss ‘Will Spark the Second American Civil War. Blood Will Run in the Streets’“, New York Observer, October 30th, 2008.

Excuse me while I laugh hard enough to pull an abdominal muscle.

Clearly it is incumbent upon Americans to take these concerns to heart and dwell upon them carefully.  After all, without Ken Follett, airports worldwide will be bereft of entirely predictable World War Two covert-ops genre thrillers.  If we can’t read boring, formulaic novels in the departure lounge, the terrorists have won.

I’m a little less concerned about Jane Fonda, though.  She had no objection to providing aid, comfort and an enormous propaganda victory to the enemy in a time of war.  As opposed to giving aid and comfort to her fellow countrymen; no, couldn’t do that.  As far as I’m concerned, if Fonda had cried every waking moment of her life—from the moment she was an ova, to the present day, and her constituent molecules continue to cry well after her death—it will not yet be sufficient restitution for her act of treason.  But then my sympathies lie with the guys who go into harm’s way on a professional basis.  Not relatively sheltered performers whose heaviest burden was having to put up with Lindsay Lohan’s flakiness on the set of Georgia Rule.

Maybe it’s just the mind-warping effects of living in the real world, but I have a great deal of faith in America and Americans, whether black or white or any other variation of skin pigmentation.  I am one hundred precent certain that, regardless of whether or not Barack Obama gets elected to the Presidency, the American public will not immediately and spontaneously combust into fratricidal warfare.

Get a fargin’ grip.

The textbook definition of “throws like a girl”

For pity’s sake, Mariah, get a few practice throws in before you step out onto the field.  Your high school Phys Ed teacher just hung his head in shame.

Now watch stick-figure Victoria’s Secret supermodel Marisa Miller chuck this heater at a Cubs game.  Don’t be surprised when Lou Piniella options Ted Lilly to the Victoria’s Secret senior’s lineup as a flannel jammies and flip-flops model, and Ms. Miller takes his spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation.

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The Action Hero for your Gums

celine_dion_gargleCeline Dion’s stock has suddenly gone up a few points in my estimation.

Here she is engaging in a little self-mockery on German TV, by gargling the interminable “My Heart Will Go On” (Titanic theme).

Someone thoughtful has also captured the moment on YouTube.

I don’t have an awful lot of time for celebrity performers, but being willing to step out of the self-absorption bubble and endure some jokes at your own expense makes one seem almost human.

(Image shamelessly stolen from Canoe’s Jam! Showbiz)

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Rock Star not living in delusional world of own making

I want to be very, very clear, however: I understand and agree with the analysis of the problem. There is an imminent threat. It manifested itself on 9/11. It’s real and grave. It is as serious a threat as Stalinism and National Socialism were. Let’s not pretend it isn’t.

I think people as reasoned as Tony Blair looked at the world and didn’t want to be Neville Chamberlain, who came back from meeting with Hitler with a piece of paper saying “peace in our time,” while Hitler was planning to cross the channel from France.

Details at The Flea.

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