Saturday, June 12, 2010

Miranda Devine, poor old Miranda Kerr, and slutty sex as a shock horror scandal yet again ...

(Above: we'd always wanted to run this advertisement, and even though it's out of date, the image still appeals, and since today is 'Miranda the Devine and sex' day, what better time?)

To say that we're astonished, shocked, horrified and appalled here at the pond is a grotesque understatement.

Oh don't you just love a hyper drive overblown set of adjectives and adverbs? Terrifying, frightening, but strangely compelling.

The reason is, Susan Greenfield has been doing a tour of the antipodes, in her usual way, collecting a medal from the Australian Society for Medical Research, and yet she hasn't featured in a Miranda the Devine column. Once upon a time Devine couldn't get enough of Greenfield, as she scribbled the likes of We're losing our minds over technology, and worried about the fate of young 'uns given a dose of screen culture:

This is why, Greenfield says, screen culture is problematic. She points to the "worrying trend" of attentional disorders in children. "Between their 10th and 11th birthday, [British] children will spend 900 hours at school, just under 1300 hours with their family and just under 2000 hours in front of a screen."

That was before the Devine discovered the splendid restorative and cynicism-inducing powers of screen culture at work in the young:

But while their teachers were trying to brainwash them, they were getting a more realistic education from satirical TV cartoons such as South Park, Family Guy, Futurama, American Dad and The Simpsons. They barrack for no particular ideology, and, seeing close-hand the effects of divorce and social instability, are used to adults not living up to lofty standards.

As the first generation to grow up with Google, they expect real answers to real questions. They have grown up in a post-Berlin Wall world, and terrorism and war permeate their daily lives. The September 11 attacks and Bali bombings define their time. Their generation are the soldiers on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. They know what a ''moral challenge'' is.

Yep, don't worry about savvy gen Y. They can smell a rat. Or a Devine. They know what a moral challenge is. Reading the Devine and not laughing out loud.

Contradictory? Mais naturellement.

But why would you be expecting consistency and coherence in the Devine? You may as well wish for world peace.

Meanwhile, if you want a whiff of Greenfield on her latest antipodean tour, you'll have to trot off to the ABC and The good and the bad news on dementia. Or how about The Guardian's older story of her travails at home, Top scientist Susan Greenfield told to quit her job - and her flat.

Never mind, all this is by way of avoiding or attempting to avoid, the Devine's latest column, Flash of fame spreads sluttiness, written in the style of a salivating village gossip, or harridan or kill joy, and which starts off, amazingly, with this poll, which we present here in the form of a screen cap, which is to say no interactivity:

Why not Do you agree with loon pond that for a woman to get ahead in the media/newspaper game she must write in a style that's vulgarised in the manner of a porn star? Like Miranda the Devine ...

Only one answer is acceptable!

Well the Herald has done many dickhead straw polls in the name of dickhead controversy, but surely this dickhead push pull kind of question contributes immeasurably to the lowering of tone in any debate, vulgarising it in the manner of a porn star. It certainly suits the moralising tone of the Devine:

Images of celebrity crotch flashed accidentally on purpose at paparazzi have become so ubiquitous they have almost lost their shock value. Women with no underpants are even creeping into the Sydney social pages. These photos, thankfully, are usually affixed with modesty stars before being published. But it makes you wonder.

Yep, it's the Devine in fish monger's wife form. The usual modus operandi is to look around at the young and decry them in the manner of a quaint Catholic priest, in the process trotting out an expert, while still finding time to salivate over the likes of Britney Spears and Miranda Kerr.

Crotch flashers must enjoy being liberated from the oppressive social norm of modesty and hygiene that requires people to cover up their nether regions in public. But what about the rest of us? Must we be subjected to eyefuls of surprise genitalia?

Does she ever pause for a second, and wonder how her harping tells us as much about her as about the society on which she comments? Surprise genitalia? Only if you spend your time reading the lowliest magazines and the most wretched tabloids and the gushings of commercial television.

Instead why not just head off to a nude beach, and get a grip on the idea that flesh isn't so problematic if it wasn't fetishised by sundry people ... including the Devine ... You see, it's only in a society obsessed with sex, and gripped by a religious fear of it, that flashing can have any purchase or hold ...

Poor old Miranda Kerr is the main one to cop a pounding:

Take Miranda Kerr, for instance, Australia's It Girl supermodel. It may be a bit silly to expect a model to be a role model but the Gunnedah native, Buddhist and koala lover is regarded as an inspiration for young girls in her country of birth. The fresh-faced Dolly covergirl who went to Paris and New York to star on the cover of Vogue, and walk in parades for Prada, was living the dream.

No, it's not jut a bit silly to expect a model to be a role model. It's a supreme example of vacuity, dumbness and nonsense. But it reveals a lot about the Devine, and her desire to be a role model super model. I suppose it would also give her an out when it comes to coherent, consistent thinking.

But on to Kerr's fatal mistake, and so the need for David Jones to sack her as spokesmodel:

In various shots for Numero magazine, Kerr is portrayed as a wanton Catholic schoolgirl, in locker room with hockey stick, sipping water from a bubbler, in a hip-high skirt and thigh-high stockings, or bare-breasted up against a toilet wall, draped in chains and crosses, a lit cigarette in her hand, the bleached straw hair and vacant eyes of a real messed-up bad girl. The photos are said to be a sign Kerr wants to be taken seriously as a ''high-end fashion model''.

Oh dear, the slut! A wanton Catholic schoolgirl, and a messed-up bad girl! Example please:

Well did you faint? Disappointed huh? Google some more by checking out Greg Kadel, Numero Magazine and Miranda Kerr (or start here). Wondering what the Bill Henson-ish fuss was all about?

Never mind, keep on cranking into overdrive:

Why is our culture so toxic that to be taken seriously as a model or actress or singer or female celebrity of any description you have to strip off, look out of control and trashy, and degrade yourself in a cheaply lit approximation of '70s cliche porn? The more hardcore and vulgar, the more hip and ironic.

But does the Devine have any idea of '70s cliche porn? Does she really think Miranda Kerr looks like Linda Lovelace? Hardcore and vulgar? The silly thing has simply no idea.

And at that point the Devine jumps the shark, in her usual way, and heads off to arcane bizarre high Victorian Lewis Carroll notions of feminine purity:

It is as if whoever are the gatekeepers and shapers of our culture are offended and threatened by that most potent element of femininity: innocence.

Now just think for a moment of the dialect at work here. Sex is corrupt, impure and evil; femininity is innocence and guilelessness.

From this point there's no end in the downward spiral of a pure Devine rant:

From gimlet-eyed photographers who invade pubescent privacy and try to capture it like a butterfly pinned under glass to trashy reality shows like MTV's Jersey Shore, young women have never been so exploited and manipulated.

Yeah, tell that to the child prostitutes roaming the streets of Victorian London. Meanwhile, these days we have fundie Christians fetishising abstinence and purity and virginity in the same way as Islamic fundies, and getting upset about young things wearing hotpants. Come on down, fundie Devine:

Think of child stars such as Nikki Webster, the bubbly 13-year-old star of Sydney's 2000 Olympics opening ceremony. Her career as the sweet girl next door was going nowhere. So in an attempt to ''mature her image'' when she turned 18, she donned silk bodice and hotpants for a men's magazine and performed as a wind-up doll at the gay and lesbian Sleaze Ball.

Next thing you know, she'll turn into Kylie Minogue! Extraordinary. Young thing goes to ball, hotpants it amongst gays! Next week decline and fall of the Roman Empire! Moral turpitude! Outrage, shock and horror. Froth and foam, salivate, fall down, use another adjective. Hyper outrage sensation.

She was following the well-worn track of Britney Spears, from Mouseketeer to a pornified parody of her former sweet self. Having come to fame before puberty, former child stars are under pressure to strip off and make the transition to bimbo for fear they will have no career. Looking drugged-up and slutty is the only acceptable way to gain credibility and jettison the baggage of innocence.

Former sweet self. You know, like JonBenét Patricia Ramsey!

Steady, there's no point in taking a contrary viewpoint. Where would it get you? This isn't a debate, this is a Hillsong moral crusade for the joys of being a tedious squeaky clean tween idol espousing the joys of virginity like a Tony Abbott in drag (hmmn, Tony Abbott in drag, now there's an idea):

So too Miley Cyrus, the once squeaky-clean tween idol who made a vow of abstinence at 14, posed topless in Vanity Fair at 15, and pole-danced on stage dressed like a stripper at 16 at last year's Teen Choice Awards, channelling her pantless idol, Lady Gaga.

Oh yes, the decline and fall from a vow of abstinence to pole-dancing. Oh the tragedy of it all.

But where, you might be wondering, is the expert who must be consulted and who will affirm the Devine's wondrous view of reality? Wonder no more:

Wendy Shalit, the American author who advocates a return to modesty, wrote at the time of the Vanity Fair shoot that Cyrus's wholesome image was too much of a ''threat'' to survive.

How about an expert adept at paranoid societal fantasies? You know, ranting about the stupidity of making children pledge abstinence before marriage, as a way of guaranteeing America has no decent sex education and plenty of children born to teens?

Sure thing:

''Having pledged abstinence before marriage, Miley poses a threat to conventional wisdom. Many people - indeed, whole industries - are invested in 'neutralising' that threat by getting her to take her clothes off as much as possible, as soon as possible.''

Got time for a little fundie rant - Christian or Islamic, take your pick - about the evils of sex, and the joys of abstinence and not handing it over, because virginity is your best possession, and the only way to negotiate a good safe marriage, with a lavish payout when the divorce arrives? Sure thing:

In her latest book, The Good Girl Revolution, Shalit writes that even though women are more educated and successful in business than ever, ''girls report that in their private lives, they are feeling enormous pressure to be sexually active and don't know how to say no … Young women feel oppressed by the expectation that they will engage in casual sex, just as their mothers once felt oppressed by the expectation that they would be virgins until marriage.''

Those expectations come from closer to home than you might t

Got a moment for a wild accusation about sin and sodomy in the suburbs of Sydney springboarding off Shalt without a shred of sociological proof but plenty of anecdotal spleen? Sure thing:

Even in suburban Sydney, there are parents of teenage schoolgirls encouraging them into sexual relationships because the worst thing these days is not that your daughter might turn out to be a slut but that she might be a virgin at 23. This is how the world has turned upside-down.

Oh you naughty lascivious Sydney parents. Or is this only upside down in the rarefied down the rabbit hole munching on the mushroom world of the Devine? And her tortured view of women and their sexuality? You know because if you like sex and pole dancing you can only be a slut.

Well it wouldn't be a Devine column without one final bit of bitchiness, and poor old Miranda Kerr stands in for everyone to take the hit:

No one wants to be responsible for taking a stand against eroding standards because of the red-fanged vitriol that will be unleashed against them.

But David Jones should show some backbone and dump Kerr as its spokesmodel. That would prove the department store still has class.

Actually the Herald should show some backbone and dump the Devine as a columnist. That would prove the rag still has some class.

But it won't. No class at all. Just really offensively stupid questions in dickhead straw polls and a heap of red-fanged envious vitriol at the way sweet young things defy Momma Devine ...

Phew, after all that, how about a little Frank Zappa celebrating Catholic girls and crew sluts? Singing back in 1979 when the last set of moral crusades were being conducted, before even Tipper Gore got on to song lyrics ...

Better to be a slut than Miranda the Devine? Being fair and balanced, you decide. But we're suddenly happy with slutdom ...

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