The bureaucracy has left me feeling cold and un-fripperous, with little to say except this: What is the point of mortal pursuits when, no matter how worthy the intent, they will never come close to this?
But on a positive note -- because I am sometimes positive -- here is a good and proper perfume ad. While not involving celebrities, it is directed by Chris Cunningham. And it does indirectly involve Donna Summer, who, as it turns out, does not seem to hate 'the gays' after all.
This is artistically and commercially awful. But I must share. Yes he's sucked the life out of Time After Time (karaoke instrumentation, limp delivery, a sense he's just singing a series of words), but even worse it's part of a 'tribute compilation' for his late mother (lovely intent I'm sure) which is being tactically released to coincide with Mother's Day. This seems an unsettling mix of sentiment and $$. Everyone knows Mother's Day is pop commerce gold -- probably the most important day of the year for the thoughtless purchase of music for people who don't really like music. The kind of day Sony Music likes best. The kind of day that keeps Human Naturealive. But come to think of it there's another thing fueling my distaste. While, yes, through Boyzone Ronan has contributed much to the realm of homoerotic pop, he is however responsible for Westlife, and therefore responsible for Brian McFadden, and therefore responsible for the Brian-Delta union. This will not be forgotten.
I would prefer not to obsess over celebrity perfumes, but walking through Myer yesterday I was a little bemused by the effort they've gone to spruiking Sarah Jessica Parker's new The Lovely Collection. As expected there was a big stand with massive SJP images everywhere and flowers in rustic baskets. So far so Gwyneth. But they significantly upped the ante by deploying a phalanx of girls in massive, frilly flower dresses (and incidentally, layers of fake tan, Lancome-lady style) who were tasked with handing out flowers to passers by. I felt this was a little over the top, particularly in the context of Myer's crumbling Lonsdale street store with its everpresent scent of baked cookies. While they were trying to evoke 'loveliness', they were being very aggressive about it.
This brutal marketing strategy makes it extra amusing hearing SJP talk about the 'inspiration' behind her range -- somehow I can't reconcile the whimsy of it with the cut-throat world of celebrity perfumery. Yes, she might be inspired by 'dawn', but somewhere along the line there's a laboratory, chemical synthesis, factories and cut-throat marketing strategies. Whereas the image celebrities prefer to cast over their perfumes is much more organic, as if 'I really loved this idea and I seemed to have accidentally excreted this perfume. Wow.'
Thank you to Tim for this tip. For some reason something about Zero had made me lose interest in the new album -- Karen O was verging towards self-parody in the clip, for one thing -- but Skeletons is amazing. Its emotion seems so, for want of a better descriptor, superpowered. Potentially, as I was discussing with Tim, the kind of highly powered synthesised emotion, devastating in it in its ability to paralyse through enforced reflection and melancholy, that would have been deployed in Kate Bush's Experiment IV. Which is, come to think of it, a very emotionless description.
I've ignored Lady Gaga up until now, having filed her away hoping she somehow just disappears (along with Katy Perry). But now I can't deny her ascent anymore, particularly with her somewhat surprising US success (Poker Face at no.1, etc.) Whatever my opinion of her, getting dance-pop to the top of the US charts is, at the very least, notable. I should be happy about this, but I feel *nothing*. Nothing at all. Why?
For one thing I'm suspicious of her talent. But that's not necessarily relevant. History suggests I'm more than happy supporting those without talent. No, there's something bigger going on, and I think it's to do with her act of self-creation. Everyone seems so thrilled that she's channeled this Warhol aesthetic as some kind of commentary on pop culture, and valorisation of pop. The US market particularly (well, Perez Hilton at least) seems to thinks this is cutting-edge and novel.
But it's just not! Hello?? Kylie...Has this not been her driving (touring) aesthetic for a very long time? What about Roisin Murphy'savant garde wonders? What about Robyn? What about an entire continent that has acknowledged that pop can be cutting-edge for a very long time. What about Sweden for god's sake.
Not to generalise about an entire country... but... it's like the US car industry. After decades of churning out giant, clunky junk with live rear axles, orange-peel paint and panel gaps you can stick a fist through, suddenly it's all about svelte, premium small cars. What a good idea. Just like in Europe. So there you go. Lady Gaga is crap because of the American car industry's years of systematic mis-management, strategic mis-steps and desperate flight to Europe for commercial salvation.
Back on a negative note, I think this has to be the worst celebrity perfume image I've ever seen. I feel I'm supposed to see a nubile river goddess, exultant in her perfumed powers, but instead I see a twisted and damp swamp creature, possibly signaling the end of the world. This is how I prefer to think of Mariah.
This is not fun anymore. Approaching a week on the sick-couch, and I think I'm now at risk of becoming a shut-in. I'm also apparently beginning to display a suite of worrying behaviours, such as an increasingly Mr. Burnsesque gait and the occasional "goblin" aspect. I've also had computer games delivered to the door, having seemingly exhausted all other culture in my house. Forgetting how to engage with the world...
This is great. I think. Or worrying? Perhaps worrying and great, as well as pleasingly self-reflexive for a starlet. I've always liked Lindsay for this very reason -- she's got a sense of humour about herself and a brain. But is this perhaps a bit too early for self-parody?
BUT ACTUALLY, this was equally, and possibly more impressive, and I don't think I respect Paris Hilton, although I've never been quite sure about that. Best bit: "Oh... Maui... *loves* it...".
Another product of my sickbed haze is that I joined Twitter. No, that's a lie. I actually rejoined, after joining a few weeks ago to see what the fuss was about, and then un-joining after feeling dirty somehow, as if my synapses were going to re-wire themselves to think in 140 characters or less. OK, so, yes I've re-joined, but I still don't quite get it. There's nothing that compelling, although admittedly, because I follow Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore the bulk of my updates are their mini-declarations of love to each other (often with the Kabbalah "love and light" sign off.) Mildly interesting, yes, but I still don't understand how this is zeitgeist. Although if Demi Moore can talk someone out of killing themselves via Twitter, I guess it is. I think the only compelling rationale for staying is the early updates it may provide as to imminent celebrity meltdowns, which is why I'm now following Ms. Mariah Carey.
Yes, computer games are involved, but this is not the whole story. Consumed by visions of carefree weekend activities, like a night on the town, lingering coffees, going to markets blah blah blah, on Thursday arvo I started to feel sick. This rapidly turned into one of those nastier colds where you can't really do anything except laze on the couch, your joints and muscles aching, your skin tingling, feverish, crap.
On Saturday night the gods of mild illness decided I needed something more (perhaps I am not celebrating Easter the proper, religious way?) so I was given horrible chest pains which prevented me from sleeping. Whatever lesson I was supposed to learn, I obviously didn't, because on Sunday night it turned out that a takeaway pastry I ate had spent too long in the bain marie, which led to unpleasant results that I need not name (having so powerfully evoked). This also made sleep difficult.
And the one, single time I poked my head out the front door (to take out the trash, literally), I was greeted with the most idyllic of scenes -- beautiful blue sky, people cycling past, walkers, cats frolicking etc. BUT this has not all been bad. Because, of course, the benefit of being confined to the couch is you really can't do anything except watch TV or play computer games. And I have, I have, I have. In brief:
I'm back playing Transport Tycoon, a game I was addicted to in the mid-1990s. Perfect for anyone with obsessive tendencies, all one's perfectionist zeal can be channeled into making sure the trains run on time (with 80% passenger loads), naming trains ("Interline Monarch"), and planning intricate Bus-Plane-Train connections. I just launched my first Concorde. My heaven.
In between transport planning, I also finished off the BBC adaptation of The Line of Beauty. I actually thought it was pretty faithful to the book, although it suffered a bit for not having Alan Hollinghurst's writing to flesh out the characters a bit more. It certainly looked the part, though. I also wrapped up Damages, Season 2 and Kathy Griffin, My Life on the D-List. This then led to some Youtube investigating into the feud between Barbara Walters and the *wonderful* Rosie O'Donnell. I was amused that only the day after the infamous fight, this was Kathy's response. I know I shouldn't be, but I'm still shocked when I see how hated Rosie is (at least among youtube comment-leaving types). I LOVE Rosie -- I really do, and I hate her haters. But anyway.
So, when I was interspersing Damages with Kathy Griffin, I made a decision to adopt either an Ellen Parsons or a Kathy Griffin persona at work to "get things done", and tear through the inertia of government. I can't decide if I'd prefer to have Ellen's "fuck-off" vibes permeating from a humourless face, or begin every sentence with "here's the thing..." In my Damages-watching/cold haze, I also decided that it would be cool to have private investigators with which to acquire "information" and power, so be careful.
It's been a while since I lost my life for a brief period to Bridezillas. However after Lauren managed to watch the thing in under twenty four hours I've been reminded of its hypnotic powers. Not the slightly cheap second season onwards, but the terrifying first season -- the one where they filmed actual Manhattan brides.
I'd always wondered how they managed to rope them in, as presumably the brides wouldn't have signed up to be demonised, but apparently the project was originally titled "Manhattan Brides", and framed as a documentary about the highly competitive Manhattan wedding circuit... the perfect way to attract perfectionist brides dreaming of spreads in InStyle. The key moments:
"Wall street trader" Vanessa looking longingly at a diamond ring, batting her lashes at her fiance Dan and whispering, "but I love it so"... Equally gold was the interspersing of her walk down the aisle with shots of her pre-wedding training, and motto "pain is weakness leaving the body, pain is weakness leaving the body".
Cynthia's attempts to maintain an image of struggling actress living while discussing her $100,000 wedding.
Miho's palpable hatred for fiance Joe, which actually seemed quite justified considering how irritating he was, particularly when riding his mid-life crisis scooter which for some reason he thought was rad. Actually, watching her various strategies to avoid kissing him crossed the line from hilarious to slightly devastating...
The ridiculous $250,000 island wedding, where the bride was marrying a friend of her father's, who bore an uncanny resemblance to her father except with an unfortunate sweat problem. Also notable: The fact they flew in a "Videographer" from Paris to capture the wedding, and the wedding planners' walky talkies, e.g. "the cake has arrived, over".
Karen's OCD tendencies revealing themselves at every stage of the wedding preparations, but particularly during the dress fittings, as well as her bizarre freak-out when her hair stylist covered her ear with hair, which for some reason touched a nerve.
The dress shop lady who forgot to conceal her hatred for rich brides.
Julia's delusions of being a Princess and incessant self-talk. Would have been more amusing if her entire life's savings weren't being thrown into the wedding, which once again crossed the line to be really quite devastating.
More off-season Kylie merch, this time from Spanish jeweller Tous. Directed by Ellen von Unwerth, it seems to have been filmed on tour and features some of the dancers as well as her glamorous-glamorous-gl-glamourous (flossy flossy) musical director Sarah DeCourcy (I think), who looks exactly as one would imagine musical directors look in 70s Bond films. Very much poaches the Justify my Love concept (also filmed mid-tour) of saucy maid in Euro-hotel peering through 'peep-hole' to catch god knows what going on inside, except in contrast to Madge's sinful festival of erotica, all that seems to be happening here is K skipping around drinking champagne, spinning around to feel dizzy (like we did in primary school), and then passing out on top of a giant fur rug. For reference, here's Justify my Love, although unfortunately the only version I could get has a very different song overlaid, which makes for a very different effect....
Even today, I don't think you'd get someone of Madonna's (celebrity) stature making a clip like this. I think we've become accustomed to seeing bodies, but nothing this darkly erotic.
Kylie admits to Botox, and various other miscellaneous procedures. Good on her. I admire her delicate wording around plastic surgery "issues". Traditionally she's said she makes the best of what's available to look her best, and then quite rightly points out that when she looks good we say she's had work done, and when she doesn't we say she's old, and probably should get work done. Fair point. Because I think on some level we want her to remain ageless.
I've also enjoyed Courtney Love's (initial) response to plastic surgery rumours -- wearing a smirk, and with a twinkle in her eye, she simply proclaimed the transformative powers of yoga. Then there's Cher's choice quote: "they are my tits and if I wanna have them put on my back that is my own damn business". Another fair point. And speaking of such bold procedures, Joan Rivers has now written a guide to plastic surgery, which I'm not entirely sure is a joke.
But still no word from Madge:
As a rule I find plastic surgery much more creepy when it's not spoken about. For example, every time I see a photo of Madge's face now I can't help but picture two silicone orbs stuffed under her cheeks. Cheeks are huge right now.
I'm finding this ever so sweet, because I find Kerry Armstrong's 'smug self-actualisation' hard to stomach. So many magazine profiles talking about how centred she is, her journey blah blah blah, usually with a soft-focus image of her sitting cross-legged on a rustic wooden floor drinking herbal tea, with beads. But then you see what she's saying and it's just nuts.
Anyway, I think I've been anti-Kerry since happening upon (I think) a 7.30 Report segment years ago talking about the work she was doing with a charity encouraging indigenous kids to get into acting. After much footage of her talking about how important it was, what she was doing, for the kids, it then cut to the actual proceedings. This consisted of her emoting on stage, with the aforementioned kids plonked beside her in front of giant projection screens of her face. I've found this hard to forget.
So I had a hearty chuckle when I saw that her extreme selling-out has so publicly backfired. The mums of Australia will just never forgive her. For more evidence of how nauseating pop psychology can be, have a look at Kerry here:
The secret... of circles.
ACTUALLY watching this again has made me realise what it is that bugs me... when she talks about all this self help stuff, you get this sense that she's more focused on the performance of her talking about it than the stuff itself. A ha!!
This is bad pop. And just when I was starting to like Natalie Bassingthwaighte too, or at least her cheery big sister SYTYCD persona (as in, nother terrible music). But this has a plodding dirge-like quality, with the following lyrical centrepiece: "And the world is like a mirror ball/ I'm spinning in the after-glow of Love". Hee hee hee, that's funny.
Speaking of careerist Australians, Dannii has a blog. And interestingly, she makes what I take to be a reference to working with the Freemasons. She's also looking great at the moment. Oh K, how you have fallen.