Politicians Eating Things.

This might just be because I’m currently in the midst of what can only be described as an atrociously potent hangover, where my sole purpose in life is to consume as many carbohydrates as humanly possible (for those of you playing at home, I’m doing a bloody good job of it thus far. This guacamole is delicious). But this has got to be more than a coincidence. I keep seeing photos of politicians eating things.

food_2706495b

It all started when the Guardian applauded Hillary Clinton’s “flawless” choice of a chicken burrito bowl from Mexican chain Chipotle while out on the campaign trail in Ohio. “It’s a fairly perfect order, when you think about it,” the article quoted. “You’re opting for chicken instead of beef, and don’t want that calorie-loaded flour tortilla, but you’re not so overly zealous as to get a salad.”

Upon Googling the topic further (it was clearly a very busy day for me), I soon discovered that not only had the Guardian considered the significance of Clinton’s burrito choice, but the Wall Street Journal too had commented on the “gastronomical symbolism” of Chipotle (deeming Taco Bell “more electorally savvy”), the New York Times analysed the calorie content of the meal, and CNN Money labelled the incognito lunchtime dash a “hip” symbol of her desire to “shed that outdated 1990s stigma.”

hillary chipoltle1.jpg
Somewhat creepy CCTV footage of Hil ordering her burrito bowl.

Do we really need to read that much into what a politician decides to shove down their gob for lunch? No. Unless you’re the next potential leader of the free world, perhaps, but even still, the discussion of Chipotle semiotics is surely about as useful to society as the release of Kris Jenner’s cookbook (aka, not at all. One of the reviewers on Amazon said they’d rather buy a book from ISIS). From that moment forth, photos of politicians smacking their lips seem to be everywhere.

Take, for example, the news that British Prime Minister David Cameron ate a hotdog with a knife and fork while schmoozing with supporters at a voter barbecue. As the Huffington Post observed, the “‘I’m just like you’ campaign trail stunt backfired somewhat predictably, with Twitter exploding in a cacophony of piss-taking after noting the Prime Minister’s choice of dining implements.” Poor ol’ Dave became a posh lamb to the social media slaughter.

CB6-nmVWEAAaYlI

But that was nothing compared to when incredibly unflattering photos of his opposition, Labour leader Ed Miliband, chomping on a bacon sandwich last year went viral. The image was so horrifically off-putting apparently even his advisors had to intervene after a few bites. Yes, Sandwich Gate is now so famous in his home country that the bacon sandwich incident has its own Wikipedia page. Apparently people do care what’s going into their guts (or at least what they look like when it happens).

11066819_830019327046209_7237538054531199002_n

edeats-last-supper_2918786k

There is something to be said for leading by example, which is why another group of people definitely care about what politicians munch on when out in the public eye. In May 2012, the Washington-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed a petition to stop President Obama, his family, and members of his Cabinet, from eating unhealthy foods while staging official photo ops after seeing him with a burger one too many times. Yes, a quick search uncovered many an image of Obama chowing down on treats, be it a hot dog at the basketball with David Cameron (man, that dude loves his hot dogs), cheeseburgers with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, or a cheeky ice cream on the sly. Indeed, it appears Obama is pictured eating burgers so often there’s even a blog dedicated to it. In defence of the petition, posing with a Big Mac does seem to go against everything Michelle Obama has worked for as part of her “Let’s Move!” health and fitness initiative (even if POTUS maintains his favourite food is broccoli). But is it really that enormous an issue for him to eat it in public?

488299_406536596061153_1091116579_n

100812_obama_burger_ap_392_regular

As much as many of us implore such fluffy stories polluting our media outlets, the reality is that with so many ready to pounce on and scrutinise a politician’s every move, you just can’t please everyone. People are always going to talk, particularly at a photo op. No doubt if Clinton was pictured sipping raw kale and chia seed smoothies everyday while out campaigning she’d be accused of being too healthy, or giving into the Paleo fad. But on the other hand, if Tony Abbott made a deal of ducking into Pizza Hut every couple of weeks (or, as he was recently, skolling beer in a pub), he’d be accused of making bad choices and promoting obesity. Still, it appears our political leaders would be wise to make a safe choice when in the presence of worldwide media, or at least save their junk food binge for the privacy of their own home. Oh, and perhaps steer clear of grotty bacon sandwiches, overly greasy burgers, or phallic-like foods, in the fear of viral internet memes or worse, sexual innuendo.

717356-tony-abbott-eats

I think that image probably speaks for itself. *Drops mic*

Advertisements

Why you should boycott “Blurred Lines” on the dancefloor.

“I’m not sure you want it, perhaps I should buy you a drink and ask politely?”

 Not so long ago, Robin Thicke slimed his way onto my TV screen to lip-sync his latest single, Blurred Lines. I’d heard the catchy tune subconsciously while in the shampoo aisle of the supermarket, but this was the first time I’d really been given a chance to suss it out. Or rather, suss the women cavorting around him out. And by sussing, I mean perving on. And by cavorting, I mean gyrating saucily in undies sourced from the throw-out bin of Strippers’R’Us.

Since then, I’ve done some ye olde research into Mr. Thicke and his smashing single. Allow me to enlighten you on the general consensus: He sucks. He sucks, he sucks, he sucks. He is the peel in a hot cross bun. He is the dog poo smushed on your shoe the moment you leave the house.  He is the ginormous bulging pimple sprouted on a perfectly decent forehead the day of the school formal. Yes, much like Dorothy Mantooth, I would like to take Robin Thicke out for a drink and NEVER CALL HIM AGAIN.

Of course, Robin fiercely defends his controversial reputation. “I don’t want to be sleazy, I’m a gentleman… I don’t want to do anything inappropriate,” Robin told E! earlier this month. Because starring in a YouTube-banned video clip where powerless young women, topless and near naked, jiggle around two fully clothed men pouting, posing, making sex eyes, holding lambs, riding bikes, playing banjos, lighting cigarettes and imitating drug use is completely appropriate. Seriously, get Prince Charles and Camilla in on this and film it for The Family Channel. He’s practically Gandhi.

Image

I know I promised this blog wouldn’t morph into a raving soapbox, but hey, it’s my party and I’ll rant if I want to. So brace yourselves, gorgeous peaches. Herewith lie five reasons why I hate ‘Blurred Lines’.

1) According to the lyrics, apparently every woman on the planet has some intensely insatiable appetite for Robin Thicke. Just one quick Google and I immediately find this hard to believe. He looks like the kind of guy that would stand just a bit too intimately close to you on a crowded train. Like a sleazy Voldemort. Clearly Robin knows this, and therefore made the executive decision to display balloon signs in the background of his video clip that helpfully read, “Robin Thicke has a big dick”. The subtlety astounds me.

“If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say, if you can’t read from the same page, maybe I’m going deaf, maybe I’m going blind, maybe I’m out of my mind.”

So in the opening verse, #Thicke is thrusting his testosterone all around the club and dragging his apparently monstrous penis up to a lady, but shock horror: his feelings aren’t reciprocated. What’s this? A girl isn’t openly interested in his sexual advances? Well flamin’ galah, something must be wrong here, clearly in the form of blindness or insanity. Cue Robin: “How the hell is this smokin’ piece of estrogen not attracted to my humongous genitalia?”

2) It attempts to persuade us Robin genuinely respects women. Who is he trying to kid? Every single aspect of the tune is unbelievably sexist.

Ok now he was close, tried to domesticate you… but you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature. Just let me liberate you, you don’t need no papers, that man is not your maker.”

Thank you, Robin, for that informative wave of assertions. It’s touching you believe a lady who doesn’t orgasm the moment she sees you needs “liberating”. It’s wonderful you’re a fanboy for Women’s Liberation, although that might raise a few eyebrows seeing as your idea of female freedom means a) reducing her to an “animal” and b) actively responding to sexual objectification. But you’re right, Robin. She’s clearly not a high-functioning human that can think for herself. Because she’s a babin’ lady, she’s suddenly gone all animagus on your ass and morphed into some sexy lion that spits on Suffragettes. Oh, but don’t worry, he defended this in a news article too.

Robin: “People say, ‘Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?’ I’m like, “of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman.’”

Robin Thicke, everybody.

Image

3) ‘Blurred Lines’ completely endorses rape culture.

I’m gon’ take a good girl. I know you want it, you’re a good girl. Can’t let it get past me, you’re far from plastic, talk about getting blasted, I hate these blurred lines, I know you want it. But you’re a good girl, the way you grab me, must wanna get nasty, go ahead, get at me.”

Just so we’re clear here, these blurred lines aren’t, as Robin himself put it, “between men and women and how much we’re the same… and between a good girl and a bad girl, and even very good girls all have little bad sides to them.” There is NO WAY this song is about that. Show me a lyric where he discusses the similarities between genders! HA! I told you so. No, these blurred lines clearly refer to the inner conflict a man struggles with when a lady friend is gyrating against him and he feels he has the right to bang her even though she’s not outwardly suggesting it. Essentially, that ol’ chestnut of when a girl says ‘no’ but you’re sure she means ‘yes’.

By continuously whispering “I know you want it” in the ear of a lady, Robin isn’t exactly the poster boy for sexual consent. There is no such thing as a blurred line of approval- if you’re not sure someone wants it, that’s not unclear, that’s a definite no-go zone. Particularly if a girl is so “blasted” (read: off her face drunk or high) she cannot be responsible for her own decisions. Imagine if a guy came up to you in a bar murmuring that while your actions suggested otherwise, deep down he knew you wanted to party in his pants all night long. I would probably hide in the bathroom for the rest of the night screaming bloody murder and finding a way to escape out the tiny window above the loo. Unwanted attention,  harassment and forcing yourself on a woman is not something to play around with, nor is suggesting “taking” a submissive and unwilling “good girl”.

4) His lyrics are the laziest stinkin’ guts.

Hey, hey, hey you wanna hug me? Hey, hey, hey, what rhymes with hug me?

Erm, Shakespeare called, he wants the entire English language back.

PS- Bug me, tug me, dug me, lug me, drug me, mug me, unplug me.

5) The song openly endorses sexual violence.

One thing I ask of you, let me be the one you back that ass to, yo from Malibu to Paris, boo, yeah had a bitch, but she ain’t bad as you. So hit me up when you passing through, I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two… Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you. He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that, so I just watch and wait for you to salute. But you didn’t pick, not many women can refuse this pimpin’, I’m a nice guy, but don’t get it if you get with me.

Nothing about this rap by T. I is okay. It is not okay to joke about ripping somebody’s butt in two. That’s not hot. That’s not suggestive. That’s not funny. That is glamourizing violence against women, be it sexual or otherwise. If a girl is into S&M and enjoys getting her hair pulled or butt smacked, that’s fine. Whatever floats her bedroom boat. But not without consent, which is clearly overlooked in favour of what these men assume a dirty dancer would want, or what every “good girl” must secretly desire. And by these men, I refer of course to “pimpin’” “nice” guy that isn’t actually nice “if you get with me” and collectively refers to his past girlfriends as a “bitch”.

While we’d probably all raise our hands and admit the beat of Blurred Lines is pretty easy to disco to, there is nothing sparkly about its message. Granted, there are more examples of female objectification in music than there are grains of sand in Hawaii. Still, Thicke’s latest tune displays him to be such a ginormous bonehead it seems this one takes the sexism cake, for 2013 at least. Its undertones aren’t so much misogynistic as they are horrifically creepy and, well, “rapey”, as some journalists have previously remarked. Sure, Robin admires the female body. But instead of commenting on a lady’s curves or her brains or her big blue eyes, his song calls for making an unwanted advance on the dance floor and then tearing her ass in two. Lovely. No man should ever assume a woman wants “it”, yet the idea of consent is so far from Blurred Lines it may as well have left the Milky Way and found extra-terrestrial life in another galaxy. So the thought of college boys all ‘round the globe fist pumping to this chorus while impressionable tweens reapply their red lippy with the hopes of a disco pash makes me want to stab myself in the face with a samurai sword. But hey, at least we all can sleep easy knowing Robin Thicke has a big dick.

Image

I rest my case.

Our Kids Need Mr & Mr Potato Head

Last week, I babysat my two-year-old nephew Matthew. Restless after a tiring day, I switched on ABC Kids to soothe him. The television show Peppa Pig blared. There was a Mummy Pig, a Daddy Pig, and Peppa’s little brother George. Matthew’s eyes were transfixed.

Next came Fairly OddParents, in which fairy godparents Cosmo, Wanda, and baby Poof, granted the wishes of godson Timmy Turner.

Somewhere between feeling like a terrible aunty for encouraging sedentary behaviour and Matthew bawling because I wouldn’t let him suck the remote, it hit me. This activity couldn’t be any more heteronormative if he was wearing a “Ladies’ Man” bib.

Why was television forcing these heterosexual relationships on my nephew? Sure, he’s only two. But who’s to say Matthew won’t grow up gay, bisexual or other? Why does Peppa Pig necessarily have a Mummy and a Daddy?

The intricacies of the LGBTQI community are undeniably too advanced for a young child’s mind, but we can’t keep pretending that same-sex relationships and diverse sexualities are non-existent in their lives. And, as much as we may not like to admit it, television plays a critical role in educating our brood.

Whenever the idea of introducing homosexual characters on children’s TV is brought up, the same repetitive arguments rear their heads. “Shouldn’t all characters be asexual?” “Kids grow up too fast!” “They’re too young to learn about that stuff!”

These points are completely inconsistent. Heterosexuality is at the crux of so many well-loved children’s tales. Where would Aladdin be without Princess Jasmine? There’s nothing wrong with showing innocent affection, so why should the depiction of homosexual relationships be any different?

For older children and teenagers, there is an increasingly diverse scope of sexualities portrayed on television. Glee, True Blood and Skins should be particularly celebrated for representing the LGBTQI community in a positive and realistic manner. But this concurrently sends a message that homosexuality is something you need to be old enough to understand. Surely this is illogical when heterosexuality is deemed appropriate from birth.

A 2010 investigation into the portrayal of lesbian, gay and bisexual people on the BBC encouraged further representation on television, stating that over half of the UK population felt comfortable with the idea. Imaginably, figures would be similar in Australia. Still, kids’ programs shy away from representing any form of homosexuality, bisexuality or transsexuality. If they do, it is likely to be coded or hidden, perhaps as a reference for a more mature audience. This form of social invisibility is a time warp back to the mid-20th century.

There have certainly been previous examples. In 2004, Playschool aired a “Through the Windows” segment showing a young girl with two lesbian mothers. Then Prime Minister John Howard condemned the action, asserting that “…to intrude that into a children’s program is just being politically correct…this is an example of the ABC running an agenda.”

In 1999, various social critics and religious figures worldwide demanded investigation into purple Teletubby Tinky Winky for carrying a red handbag despite his male identity and supposedly symbolising gay pride. “Tinky Winky is simply a sweet, technological baby with a magic bag,” the BBC responded.

Today, many raise an eyebrow at the apparent sexual tension of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie; rumours steady that they’ll tie the knot on screen.

Personally, I adored animated program Sailor Moon as a four-year old. In the original Japanese version, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune are a lesbian couple. But in the English adaptation, they are referred to as cousins. No scenes changed, no plot lines altered, just a different choice of dubbing for English-speaking audiences. I don’t understand why this was necessary. It certainly wouldn’t have hurt me to learn that the two were in love.

Image
Front cover of the New Yorker, edition July 8 & 15 depicting Bert and Ernie watching the Supreme Court’s landmark DOMA ruling. Slowly restoring my faith in humanity.

 There are so many benefits to introducing a homosexual character into children’s television shows. For one, it would help familiarise young audiences with the concept of same-sex parenting and alternative sexualities, as well as validating older children who may be beginning to identify with a particular sexual orientation.

Moreover, increased representation would encourage tolerance and acceptance from an early age. This would hopefully shape a generation that rejects homophobia and is more mindful of peoples’ differences. Surely the more often Matthew sees same-sex parents and interacts with the LGBTQI community, the more he will consider them normal and okay.

I would be mortified if Matthew never learned about homosexuality and publicly demanded, “Why are those two men holding hands?” In today’s society, that social faux pas is just no longer acceptable.

There’s such a significant proportion of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the community our kids are growing up in. Children are thriving in happy same-sex families, or have gay uncles, aunts, cousins, babysitters or teachers.

Our most important task is to educate young children about the world, and television assists in teaching life lessons. So the last thing I want is for my nephew to grow up ignorant- particularly when it comes to the LGBTQI community.

Most crucially, a 2013 American Academy of Paediatrics study asserted that while same-sex parenting is in no way harmful to a child’s wellbeing, a lack of social support and representation in their community can result in feelings of intense isolation. As GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios commented, “as more and more loving and committed gay and lesbian couples begin families, it’s important that their children seen representations of their families on their favourite shows.”

Non-traditional home lives are increasingly familiar on kids’ screens. For example, the ABC airs Grandpa In My Pocket, where little Jason embarks on adventures with his guardian, Grandpa. Surely introducing a show depicting a child and their same-sex parents is the next step.

Children’s TV shows should never be overtly sexualised, but I just don’t see the harm in integrating a few same-sex parents and relationships here and there. So, are we ready for Mr and Mr Potato Head or a lesbian OddParent?  For sure, we are.

If you have objections, well, just change the channel. But as long as I have a say in my nephew’s education, he won’t be learning that a family with Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig is the only option.