Prince covers Radiohead at Coachella

“Radiohead to Prince: Hey that’s OUR song,” via CNN.

Prince covered Radiohead’s Creep at Coachella, then his label blocked all fan videos of the rendition on youtube, claiming copyright violations. CNN dismisses these claims first because the videos are fan videos, and second, because the song actually belongs to Radiohead. While I have nothing to add from a legal standpoint, I do have to say it’s confusing to me that a label would think it’s in their best interest to remove user-produced content which features their artist from the internet. Isn’t it like free promotion? Really, I can’t understand the business logic here…Unless they plan to release the performance on DVD and they want to protect their market, it makes no sense to me that this could be a problem. It actually sounds like a good thing that people want to watch and talk about the artist whose records they hope to sell…

And since Prince’s version of Creep is nowhere to be found on the internetz, here’s Radiohead’s, just for those who haven’t been playing Rockband lately and need a reminder 😉

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SATC: Of men and money and self…

Spoiler alert:

Last night I saw Sex and the City: The Movie, because after the longest job interview of my life, and because I’ve been anticipating this movie for a year or more, I couldn’t bear to wait any longer, even with those qualms I hinted at here. All in all, it was pretty much what I expected from a 2 1/2 hour big screen rendition of that predictable but charming little series — everything I liked and hated about the series but with the hated stuff magnified and more drawn out.

With this mixture of emotions, I found myself wondering: “Is all –” hahaha no, no, I kid. I won’t write this post like a Carrie Bradshaw column…

Dana Stevens at Slate wrote a review I agree with almost entirely. Here’s a highlight:

No real-life relationship, Carrie and her cohorts reluctantly concede, can live up to the impossible expectations our culture places on romantic love. But luxury commodities? Those are more than capable of fulfilling every fantasy. The right Louis Vuitton bag—hell, any Louis Vuitton bag—can change your life.

Now, there is a plot thread in the movie naysayers will point to as an exception to this part of Stevens’ argument. Carrie’s desire for a big and fabulous wedding at least contributes to ruining her first attempt at marrying Big. This could be read as a tsk tsk against pomp and circumstance and materialism. But it’s a little ironic if big spending Big is the character who is put off by money. It’s more like he can’t handle cliched romantic settings and commitment, rather than anything he has against a little glam.

And when a romantic partner fails them (like Big fails Carrie in epic fashion), the girls can take solace in the one constant in their lives: No, that’s not in their own selves or even necessarily in each other (Samantha, for example, is going it alone in California for a large portion of the movie). It’s in things. Fancy things. Really, really fancy things.

Getting Samantha a $60,000 ring is the only kind thing Smith does for Samantha in the entire movie. One of two romantic gestures Big makes during the movie is agreeing to buy Carrie an apartment she thought was outside their price range. Fashion Week makes Carrie feel like herself again. (What is this “self” she speaks of then? A gaggle of labels and lights?) Buying a Louis Vuitton bag for Louise is her final grand gesture to her servant/savior. Why is all the stuff about stuff so problematic?

While the ensemble is praised (and rightfully so) for normalizing discussion of female sexuality and highlighting the beauty that can be female camaraderie, and these are feminist aspects of the series, I maintain that these characters are some of the weakest women on television. They rise and fall with men, and while Carrie had the chance to prove she could be strong and happy with or without Big in this movie, but that she simply prefers having such a companion, all she proved is that she can fill the void left by a man by spending money and surrounding herself in some glamor, i.e. decorating her apartment, hiring a Personal Assistant/Rent-a-Friend, going to Fashion Week.

I won’t deny that her close group of girlfriends is a huge part of her life and helps to determine her happiness, but where, in all this mash-up of men, money, and mates, is Carrie’s independence or self-reliance? Where’s the actual person beneath the designer clothes and apart from all these friends and lovers?

And I shudder to ask: In this fictional world where money is the vehicle for the vast majority of women’s happiness outside of upper-class marital bliss, how do less privileged women keep themselves from slitting their wrists? — I guess they just have to keep their spirits up with rental designer bags and hope they get lucky enough to be a P.A. to someone like Carrie Bradshaw some day…

A round-up of good SATC reviews and reflections:

Dana Stevens at Slate

http://www.slate.com/id/2192379/

Stephanie Zacharek at Salon

http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/review/2008/05/30/sex_and_the_city/

Sex writers reflect on the impact of SATC

http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2008/05/30/sex_writers_on_sex/

Manohla Dargis at NYTimes

http://movies.nytimes.com/2008/05/30/movies/30sex.html

Karina Longworth at Spout, gives the top 5 reasons to explain why you might “semi-rationally” hate the movie:

http://blog.spout.com/2008/05/30/5-ways-to-dismiss-the-sex-and-the-city-movie/

And Ed Gonzales at Slant Magazine on the racism of the relationship between Jennifer Hudson’s character and Sarah Jessica Parker’s, and the materialism of the film:

http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/film_review.asp?ID=3695

Jezebel: right on double standards but wrong on solution

Slut Machine at Jezebel has a post about Tyra Banks’ recent interview with The New York Times Magazine, where, along with sharing some of her career strategies, Tyra reiterates that she believes her primary purpose in life is to help young women feel better about themselves. Is this the same Tyra I watch cycle after cycle as she tries to find the one girl who fits a narrow category of beauty most closely? The same Tyra who has told models who look perfect to me their ears stick out too much so they should be aware of this when they style their hair? Yes, it is. And it’s also the same Tyra, Slut Machine notes, who founded “Bankable Productions,” who is earning millions of dollars as a would-be Martha Stewart mogul (who yes, is relevant only because, like Tyra Banks, she is female and has used her name and her image and the TV to make money).

Slut Machine, however, thinks Tyra’s talk about helping people is more a calculated business move than a humanitarian’s confession:

It’s not so weird that we question whether someone is only interested in”instilling self-esteem in young women” when that someone built her empire on a competition-based reality show about modeling. What is weird is that Tyra feels the need to couch her seemingly endless career goals in humanitarianism, as though her ambition needs to have a heart as big as her weave. The answer is that she knows if she doesn’t say that shit, she’ll look like a money-grubbing asshole. The question, however, is: Why aren’t women allowed to be as shamelessly mercenary as men?

And yet, my question is, why are people (even feminist types, like Slut Machine) so unwilling to disapprove of shamelessly mercenary money grubbing, from men and from women? Or instead of arguing that Tyra should forget any do-gooding and just make money like the menz, why not argue that we start holding male money-grubbers to some minimum level of social consciousness?

Or in this case (since I think Tyra must be delusional if she truly thinks she’s doing real good for women by running a competition focused almost solely on external features, and I get the impression Slut Machine agrees with me), why not argue instead that if Tyra is actually sincere, she ought to reevaluate and recognize that there might be better (though perhaps less profitable) methods for helping the ladies…

Retro Recap: Millionaire Matchmaker

While I recognize that last winter’s reality tv doesn’t sound terribly retro, it is the material of a season already ended, which in show biz, is pretty out of fashion. And as there is a bit of a lull between reality tv’s spring cycle and the summer cycle (and therefore, I’m bored), I thought I’d take us back with a series on some of yesterday’s best and worst creations:

While trying to catch episodes of my Bravo-network favorite, Project Runway, last winter, I frequently stumbled upon something called The Millionaire Matchmaker, which follows entrepreneur Patti Stanger’s Millionaire’s Club, a dating service for – you guessed it – millionaires. Sounds simple enough and right on par with TV execs’ obsession with showing us the privileged but dramatic lives of rich people, right? But the show quickly reminds us there is no materialism like gendered materialism!

I was surprised to find that this Millionaire’s Club, is not, it turns out, simply a service for rich and powerful men and women to meet and search for the sparks of romance. Should I really have expected any gender neutrality when it came to a show about dating and money? What Stanger means by “millionaires,” is “millionaire men,” and when she says it’s her job to find them “love,” what she means is to find them hot women who are neither wealthy nor particularly successful. In fact, as I learned watching her interview potential matches for her millionaire clients, the opposite is desired. Stanger told one woman who introduced herself as a doctor to lose the doctor bit because “men don’t want to compete in the bedroom.” Wait, what does being a doctor have to do with competition or the bedroom? Kinky, Patti. Very kinky.

In addition to telling us what it is men want and don’t want, Stanger breaks down what women want, informing one client that no woman will want to date him because he lives in a modest home rather than a flashy apartment.

Are men really so put off by dating intelligent women? Are women really so vain? Why is the expected counterpart to a wealthy man a beautiful woman, rather than a wealthy woman? These stereotypes could be obliterated if people like Stanger didn’t insist on policing the gendered standards of success like it’s her job – even though, I guess technically it is.

The dark side of wealth?

Rebecca Traister at Salon has a review of a new novel about the dark side of that upper-middle class dream land and simultaneous hell hole, Silicon Valley.

Of Jannelle Brown’s “All We Ever Wanted was Everything,” Traister writes,

“In Brown’s fictional Silicon Valley, it’s as if the fountains of money that gushed over warehouse districts and formerly middle-class suburbs had never been staunched by recession or war or reality. But she does not view this glittering stuff-machine nostalgically. The universe she has created has all the warmth and authenticity of the too-brassy dye job its heroine receives: It’s a little too lustrous to be real, too obvious a mask for the gray beneath.”

She goes on to tell us about a marriage in ruins, a meth addict pool boy, a financial rise and fall, and a newly promiscuous teenage daughter who has everyone in the neighborhood talking.

Sounds like good, page-turning summer reading to me. But it’s not like this sort of “dark side of modern suburbia” is anything new. Desperate Housewives is perhaps the most popular example of recent entertainment which seeks to show that the lifestyles of the privileged aren’t as great as they might appear on the surface, that the American dream isn’t what it’s supposed to be. No, these neighborhoods might look like something out of Leave it to Beaver but they have ‘hood drama of their own.

This sort of anti-materialism plot trope has always come across as a consolation prize to the underprivileged to me: “Sorry, we’re rich, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Honestly,” it seems to say. Now obviously I don’t think money buys emotional happiness or functional families. But it’s not like poverty does either. And at least with money we have time and energy to worry about the state of modern marriage and the politics of sexual reputations.

The Sex and the City movie

Friday’s U.S. debut of the Sex and the City movie brings a mixed bag of emotions for me:

1. Fear: First and foremost, I’m nervous the movie will ruin the sense of peace and promise the series finale left me with in 2004.

2. Excitement: To be honest, I’ve been pretty psyched about what the big screen version of one of my most beloved shows will be like and contribute to my warm and fuzzy memories of the ladies while the series was running. I’ll admit the prospect of a Carrie-Big wedding makes me giddy.

3. Ambivalence: Yeah, I already mentioned I love the show, but I also hate it for many reasons (reasons to be discussed in detail after I see the film, which, yes, at least in part, have something to do with socioeconomics).

4. Indecision: The aforementioned ambivalence makes it a little difficult for me to decide how to approach the premiere date. Do I embrace my love for the characters and their relationships and their shocking dialogue and get tickets now so I can be among the first to see it? Or do I wait for the hype to die down a little and see the film casually, when it’s convenient and not crowded, just to avoid being counted in the opening weekend stats for a film I have some definite qualms with?