Sugar, spice and everything nice?

I tried to avoid this. Really I did. Because every person on the planet who owns a blog and writes about popular culture spent the summer blogging about Lindsay Lohan. I mean, who doesn’t know the story by now: Linds blew off her probation and court ordered alcohol classes and landed herself in jail for 13 days on a 90 day sentence (oh that wacky California! Unless you actually murdered someone, they ain’t got room for your zaney law-breaking antics! So you’ll only serve about a third of your sentence. You’re welcome!)

And then a 90 day stint in rehab turned out to be only 23 days because—surprise!!!—Lindsey, apparently, is not nearly as addicted as they thought! She is just a regular Hollywood starlet!

So yeah. This summer, I had TMZ on my screen at 4:30 to hear Harvey spew the news about Lindsey. And now, she is out of prison, out of rehab and it remains to be seen if she’ll clean her act up.

But don’t fret, folks. Because while the news on the Lindsey front may be waning while she plays new and improved, we have Paris Hilton’s latest arrest—a felony charge!—on drug possession in Vegas last week. Her (recent) mug shot:

This is all pretty big news. Lindsey’s FUBAR was all over the news for all of summer and her twitter followers grew by a good half million. The mishaps of contemporary Hollywood starlets are a boon for business all the way around; the paparazzi keep us hooked the way we like.

But here is where I have issue: that whole double standard thing. We seem to want to see our young, female stars muck up—who wasn’t rooting for another LiLo stumble so we have even more to gossip about on facebook? I mean, look at this blog post; I knew all the details of Lindsey’s case without even having to look them up.

I struggle with the celebratory moment in our popular culture when we beat the hell out of our female starlets but tend to celebrate their male equivalents. I realized this after I got a glimpse of this headline:

Moviegoers still want to see Mel Gibson films

You should have heard about Mel Gibson’s summer escapades by now. Gibson is heading to court on various charges, one of which is domestic abuse against his ex-girlfriend and mother of his most recent child. There is no denying that Gibson has a temper—various people that have worked with him in the industry have admitted to seeing it come out when he drinks.

Meanwhile, a series of audio tapes have been leaked to the press—who leaked them, is still under investigation—and they are full of hate-spewing, racist and misogynistic rants. So I am not quite sure why a man that is tied to domestic abuse is still lauded by audiences.

Which brings me to a similar Hollywood star that seems to avoid any of the public distaste that the likes of Lindsey and soon, Paris, is facing.

Charlie Sheen was arrested in December of last year for assaulting his wife:

he allegedly threatened to kill her and brandished a knife after she told him she wanted a divorce.

So while Lindsey’s career has taken a nose-dive due to her various illegal activities, Sheen—who has a history of violence against women charges filed—was rewarded with the highest salary paid to a TV star, $1.25 million per episode. That’s more than this guy makes:

The point here is that we seem to have a double standard set in how our female stars are allowed to screw up. Within our ideology, we expect our male stars to be in the news for issues such as arrests due to drug and traffic violations. Because after all, boys will be boys. But not for our girls. We want them much better behaved. Consider another example. Remember this?

Miley Cyrus was only 15 when this photo was shot for Vanity Fair by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz. It caused such a scandal, the starlet ended up apologizing for the shoot. Yet this is a pretty routine pic that has graced the walls of many a tween:

This is Taylor Lautner. He is 16 in this shot. No one seems to have a problem with this. Especially the adult female fans of Twlight.

Just sayin’.


13 thoughts on “Sugar, spice and everything nice?

  1. Well, there is a lot to cover here.

    I’ll start with the Miley photograph. Women and girls have always been considered “the weaker sex.” Our culture feels the need that women must be protected. And with some of the hypersexualization with young girls, people have their radar on high. When Miley’s photos came out, it was alarming because it was “sexy” and “provocative.” Pedophiles troll the internet; this seemed like bait.

    I don’t consider women weaker; but that’s what is ingrained in our minds. Young girls are taught to not walk alone at night, and go to clubs with groups of friends. Miley’s photo seemed to be putting her at risk. Also, it was considered to be provocative for a 15-year old. We knew her as a child, and to think of her in another way, like “sexy,” is unsettling. We feel we “own” celebrities because of the information we know. We don’t want our “kids” to grow up too fast. Also, with the ruby red lips, and just a sheet, the photo hints at some sexual activity having just been done.

    My opinion? The photo is sub-par for Annie. Miley looks older than she is; not in a good way. She’s a pretty girl, but like other teenagers, wants to feel older. She makes mistakes. Jesus, didn’t we all as a teenager? She may be a role model in the public eye, but she has no manual on how to behave. She makes decisions like we all did as teenagers. I used to love tearing her apart, until I remember my teen years and the stupid stuff I thought. I thought I knew it all. Maybe in a few years she’ll regret some of the things she’s doing. Give her time.

    The Twilight mom thing has always creeped me out. It’s like the female teachers sleeping with the students. They’re child molesters. Pedophiles. It seems this is one instance where women win the double standard.

    As for the non-outrage over Charlie Sheen, I say it’s a race issue. Remember the outrage over Chris Brown? I still loathe him. I turn his music off immediately. I can’t watch an interview. For me it’s because he never gave a proper apology. When he did it was four months after the fact. When he went on LKL to discuss it, he said within the first few minutes he didn’t want to talk about it for Rihanna’s privacy. He needs to own up to his actions!

    So why don’t I (and many others) feel outrage over Sheen? First, there is the fact that he has been this way for his entire career–the bad boy of Hollywood. Not that that’s an excuse. I think it’s because he’s white, honestly. look at the show Cops and count the number of black people compared to white people arrested. Black men are often the villains in films. Race is still an issue today. It will always be there. We excuse Charlie Sheen because it’s not out of the ordinary. The cases between him and Brown were different, but I do wonder where the outrage is.

    • Ashley Yang says:

      This is only slightly related, but when I was little and we had a swimming pool in our backyard, I used to pitch absolute tantrums and ask why boys could swim without a top but girls had to wear one. I considered it a vast injustice that I had to keep covered up in the Dallas heat but my little dude friend from next door could run around in his trunks all the livelong day. Why IS it acceptable for men to show more skin, everywhere??

  2. levenstein says:

    To be perfectly honest, I was aware that Lindsay Lohan was basically messing up her life but I didn’t know all those details. And if that is really Paris Hilton’s mugshot, I don’t believe it. I think the double standard also applies to the way celebrities are treated when they break the law. For example, they receive the same treatment in jail (except for extra security), however the difference stands in the way in which their case is presented to the public. Celebrity criminals are beautified and glamourized in the media. For one, Lindsay Lohan sure is lookin good in that photo. The public has a hard time taking celebrity crimes seriously (as least this is what I have noticed amongst my peer groups). I’m sure that when Lil Wayne gets out of jail he will write some great songs about his experience in jail and they will be big hits. Does any of this sound right? Psh, it’s far from it.

    I took a law class but it just wasn’t my thing. As a result, I’m not very familiar with the legal system, however I think Sheen should have received a longer sentence than the one he received. He was close to killing his wife! I think that says something about his motives and he certainly deserved some lengthy time behind bars. In response to Stephen’s comment, I also think the media coverage has something to do with race. Chris Brown was certainly in the media a lot longer than Sheen. It’s hard to know the actual facts of both situations because the tabloids are great at altering stories, however it seems to me like both accounts of abuse were pretty similar.

    Stephen had some great things to say about the Miley photo. For one, I totally agree that the photographer set the image up so it looks at though she has just rolled out of bed with a guy. Even though she is only wearing a sheet, she is dressed promiscuously. At first glance, this photo immediately reminded me of my intro to media and society course from last semester. In that class we looked at various magazine ads, one being an ad for used cars. The only image on the ad was of a pretty, mostly naked girl lying on the ground in an innocent, yet provocative way. Our professor asked us how old we thought she was. I thought she looked at least 18. The boys in the class guessed even higher numbers. To our surprise, our profession informed us that she was only about 14 or 15. I was shocked! However, when I took a closer look at the girl, I could tell she was definitely younger than I had thought. I was disgusted, esp since the boys in my class proceeded to say that they would “still get with her.” It seems as though the media, along with the aid of makeup artists and fancy cameras, are working to sexualize women for the audience’s pleasure. I not only think this is inhumane but I also think it manipulative.

    I think it’s pretty weird that Twilight has mom fans. Taylor Lautner, as a 16 yr old, should not be attracting mothers. They could be HIS mom! I hope somebody besides me is thinking of cougars. I think Taylor’s photo received fewer responses because he is male. The female, according to gender stereotypes, is innocent, naive, nice, and weak. Males are considered to be quite the opposite- strong, smart, direct, and strong. Once Miley’s age was revealed, she seemed more vulnerable to the media and it was thought that she was clearly taken advantage of. Taylor, on the other hand- well he’s a guy so he can stand up for himself so there’s nothing wrong with his photo (this is not my opinion, I’m just playing devil’s advocate). There is certainly something wrong with both images, however the clearest difference between them (gender difference) is the reason for a higher rate of responses to Miley’s photo.

    There are plenty of things wrong with the media and our society as a whole but people are just too stubborn to change it.

  3. Erin Meehan says:

    As I was browsing the blog I became intrigued when I fell upon the pictures of teenage Taylor and Miley. I have witnessed both pictures before one (Taylor) which seemed normal reminding me of Aberocrombie and Fitch adds I witnessed growing up. However, looking back these ads did not make much sense considering the models were mostly nude but they were trying to sell clothes… that’s a whole different topic though. Miley’s photo startled me as not provocative but undeniably sad. I consider Vanity Fair to be one of the best magazines out there and Leibovitz’s reputation for being a famed photographer is known by most. Nonetheless, I did and still do not find this picture to be all that sexually alluring. I feel Miley almost looks to a wounded victim. The pale skin and hunched position make her seem weak, vulnerable, and scared. It would be interesting to know what Leibovitz had initially intended for the shoot. In some ways I feel that she wanted to represent the pain and destruction of being in the spotlight that has effected this young girl. I am by no means a Miley fan I just find it somewhat disturbing that we as a nation find images victims and weakness sexually stimulating.
    Relating more to the issues of gender which are presented in the controversy between these two photos is the idea that young girls are ridiculed for showing skin or expressing their sexuality. While Taylor would be celebrated for a being a strong young man showing off his well earned muscles. However, as time progresses women are believed to gain power through their sexuality and become celebrated for revealing their bodies. Older male nudity though tends to have a more humorous under tone. Will Ferrel for example uses nudity to obtain laughs and I must admit does a very good job. What I am getting at is why is a young Taylor’s photo appear chivalrous and Will Ferrel’s bare chest a big joke. Yes, one must note the slight difference in muscle definition between the two men but I still find it interesting to note the change in reactions from society. This varying reaction may also be compared to that of Miley at age 15 mostly nude which is deemed immoral while if she was just three years older men would be hanging posters in their dorm rooms of her in bikinis… some may actually do that currently too. It would be interesting in class to study varying photos of celebrities and compare how male and female students react to them. There would be no doubt a vast difference in opinions.
    As for Twilight Mom’s… who cares let them have their fun and why haven’t we seen any Twilight Dad’s!!! Bella is pretty attractive too!!

  4. Both Katie and Stephan said some great things about the Miley photo shoot. Within the double standard dichotomy, there was two sub-categories for females: “virgin” or “vamp.” (Michele, we talked about this extensively during my summer course.) This principle is based on the book “Virgin or Vamp: How the Pres Covers Sex Crimes.” In this collection of case studies, author Helen Benedict examines a handful of the most prominent sex crimes that occurred in the United States. Although they all happened during different time periods, in different areas of the country, they shared one common factor: The press depicted the female as a “virgin” (the innocent victim) or a “vamp” (a loose girl who was asking for her fate).

    In the realm of Hollywood, Miley is the classic example of the vamp stereotype. She’s maturing, and therefore, her self-expression is developing and changing as well: She’s wearing less and less clothing; she’s singing and dancing in a more provocative manner; she has a boyfriend. Overall, the media portrays her as a sexually maturing and teenager who’s a little too provocative for her own good.

    Taylor Swift is the antithesis. The goody-two-shoes singer is maturing, but unlike Miley, it seems as though she’s repressing her progression into adulthood: She dresses and acts very conservatively; she sings about finding Prince Charming and happy endings; she is rarely photographed with a person of the opposite sex. Essentially, Taylor is represented as a virginal child who lives in a fairytale-like world.

    (Miley and Taylor’s physical differences – average height brunette vs. tall blonde – is also an important characteristic of the virgin-vamp dynamic to note.)

    Although there are many layers in between the virgin and the vamp, they are nonexistent when it comes to media portrayal. All starlets are molded to fit into one of the extremes.

  5. Sarah Canavan says:

    The Twilight moms–the Twilight phenomenon in general, actually–disturbs me. I’m not talking about the books. I did an independent study this summer on Adolescent Literature and phenomenons and I think it’s pretty interesting how this series has taken off, well before the movies came out. What I’m consistently shocked at is the level of obsession of these boys. And not just by teenage girls! I mean, Stephen recently posted a blog about women as sex object on the cover of Rolling Stone. How is this any different? People, this picture of Taylor Lautner has graced lunch boxes of 5 year olds, is plastered on every teenage girl’s bedroom wall. How is it different from the “objectifying” posters of scanty women in bras and panties that are hung in every guy’s dorm on this campus?

    Women are portrayed as sex objects all the time, yes. Women are historically oppressed, yes. But are we the only ones? Certainly not. I wonder what it feels like to be Taylor Lautner. To want to be an actor but who’s only claim to fame is your sculpted abs that appeals to pre-teens and soccer moms. Don’t you think it’s a little demeaning? If I were him, I would be self conscious, and not about my body, but about how my body has become a symbol of sex around the world–and he’s never even been in a porno, or seen naked! He’s the perfect sex object because he’s the wholesome, small town, protect the damsel in distress boy.

  6. Grace B says:

    Although race and gender clearly play a role in how we react to celebrity (and human) behavior, I disagree that it is a defining factor on how we view their actions. I posit instead that our country’s asphyxiation with naughty celebrity behavior is based on jealousy and a need for drama, two ideas that cross lines of gender, race etc. Take, for example the Chris Brown argument; the backlash to that situation was not a matter of race. Were white and beloved A-List stars in the same situation we would have been just as horrified. Were Brad Pitt to beat Angelina to a pulp we would have been equally repulsed and enraged. Sheen’s behavior is not as huge of a deal as Brown’s because Sheen did not disfigure the face of one of the world’s favorite popstars. Regardless, his behavior is certainly not being lauded.
    Then we have the issue of sex in relation to Miley vs. Taylor Lautner. I don’t think they are a fair comparison because of the very different contexts. Were sixteen year old Taylor to pose in bed with a sheet covering his genitals and then in another oddly incestuous shot with his mother I’m sure there would have been much more backlash then his half naked wolf body in twilight. Similarly, were miss Miley to appear in a bikini in movie, I don’t think there would have been an analogous amount of controversy to her acclaimed photoshoot.
    Finally in terms of celeb drug use, dui’s, alchohol problems and other run ins with the law, our interest crosses gender lines. At least personally, I don’t glorify when male celebs screw up. It’s just as uncool as when girls do. Just as I hoped with all my heart that my favorite male rapper, T.I. would bounce back from his one year jail sentence for gun possession (which he did before getting busted for crack last week :/), I also am rooting for Lindsay to get her life together and come out with another Mean Girls! I could care less about the fate of Paris…
    In simplest terms I think we love to see celebs mess up for two reasons. The first is because we are jealous of them, and when they screw up it makes them less superhuman and gives us one less reason to envy them. The second reason is because people crave drama when their own lives get too banal and monotonous. Furthermore, I think that despite the entertaining aspect of Celeb missteps, we also ultimately root for them to get better and have a comeback, because as Americans we are innately suckers for a happy ending.

  7. Becky says:

    I think people assume that all female celebrities are stupid and that ultimately their lives will lead to meaningless appearances once they become undesirable. It is no longer shocking to see a female celebrity appear in court or even spend a little time in jail.
    But for male celebrities like lil’ wayne and t.i., their time in jail may lead to the best selling album a few months after incarceration. They don’t become “bad” people because they were arrested and spent time in jail; they merely become even more famous and known as musical genius’ with their up and coming music so inspired by their time behind bars. They also sometimes are looked at as people who have done wrong but have turned their lives around, even if that is not the case. But when it comes to their fellow female hollywood players, they are looked at as women who are on a road to destructive behavior that will never change and can’t possibly do any good.

  8. Allison Bresnick says:

    We live in a society that has incredibly strong gender stereotypes as well as norms. In addition, our society is obsessed with celebrities; so combine the two and you get a culture in which celebrities are doing whatever they can to fit into these norms. Men in Hollywood are either seen as bad boys or pretty boys. Women in Hollywood are supposed to be glamorous and skinny. In the case of Miley Cyrus, while it may be inappropriate for a fifteen year old to pose in such a provocative manner, her agents were probably trying to expose her to the attention of the press, which is most certainly what happened. What we can see from the content of this post, is that attention, good or bad, is what keeps celebrities going in Hollywood. While some celebrities, especially females, may be exposed to more harsh criticism, it can boost their career. While Lindsay Lohan may or may not be in a new movie any time soon, people are still talking about her, inviting her to events, etc. All of this makes her money. Money is what drives Hollywood, and if celebrities carelessness or bad behavior allows them to live a glamorous life, they aren’t going to learn from these bad experiences.
    Sometimes these celebrity outbursts can ruin people’s opinions of the person, like how Stephen said he turns off Chris Brown whenever his music comes on, after a while though, something else blows up and people forget. However, I do agree that because people have certain expectations for certain celebrities, we allow ourselves to accept their behavior, even if it is wrong.
    The more we try to fit into the stereotypes and norms we set for society, the more they are going to occur.

  9. Katie Smith says:

    I have a real problem with the ideas of “twilight moms.” There are older women FANTASIZING about a 16 year old boy with his shirt off. I understand that there is a huge difference between a boy having his shirt off and a girl having hers off, but I can’t help wondering why they aren’t considered pedophiles? If a middle aged man were to have pictures of 16 year old girls dressed in lets say a sports bra and underwear, or even a small bikini, he is considered a pervert. However, these mothers are openly lusting after an underage boy. I understand that he looks older, but he is still 16!

    Which brings me to my next point. Miley just really makes me sad, but so annoyed at the same time. She claims that she wants to be taken more seriously and seen as an adult, but you look at this pose in VF and she is almost childlike. Her posture and paleness would indicate innocence and perhaps insecurities, which we know Miley doesn’t seem have after her “pole dance.” Even though I am not a Miley fan, I do have to wonder why people have such an issue with her posing with little to no clothing on, but don’t have a problem when a male poses/ acts without much clothing. Like I said before, I understand the biological physical differences between males and females, but nudity is nudity, no matter what sex. I have to agree with Erin when she says how disturbing it is that photos (like the one of Miley) can be so sexually stimulation by emulating women as weak and victims. It is sad that gender does have to play such a strong role in these cases; because females are seen as the “weaker sex,” there is a much greater response when females “act out.”

  10. Tom Michaud says:

    Ok, i’m just going to focus on the twilight thing. That whole situation makes me sick. I seriously throw-up in my mouth a little bit when ever the word “twilight” is uttered. Not just because the story sucks, or that they have fake, candy-ass vampires, but because just like the last picture shows, there are so many people who eat this shit up. I love the comparison between Miley and taylor. Of course people freak out when a girl, not of age, shows a lot of skin, but thats only because in our society we deem in unacceptable for women to expose a lot of skin. and when they do, it always is taken in a sexual way. But for guys, we can walk around all day with no shirt on and people wont say anything about it (unless you’re a 16 year old native american werewolf). Then all the adult women go bananas. “oh he’s so hot! Oh what a cutie.” These are literally things i’ve overheard women age 30+ talking about. They love twilight as much as their tweenage daughters! Isn’t that a LITTLE creepy? We have a term cougar, which is means an older woman who specifically goes after younger men. But these women are taking a bit far. If guys are like”oh Miley is so hot, i’d bang her.” then its a huge deal and we’re called pigs for saying that about an under-age girl. But these women talk about these under-age boys and its perfectly fine. I guess i just think its really funny, the double standards we have in our society.

  11. MEM12 says:

    There are many valid points talked about above and I agree with them all. Another way I try to look at it is when I hear of celebrities being admitted into rehab, I see myself being right there with them if I lived their livestyles. Male or female, living the celebrity life is not all grand. Let me just say that I am in no way condoning their actions, I am just simply stating that being followed 24/7 and having paparazzi in your face would drive me to insanity. Celebrities have no personal lives and I understand that they choose these lifestyles, but I do not believe that they necessarily want everything that comes with it. You have to notice that there is very little positive news on the front cover of magazines, the media thrives on all negative attention. In my opinion, it leaves little room for a person or celebrity to change their life around when they constantly have their flaws flashed around in the media.

  12. Yanli Guo says:

    Ms. Lohan, I have to admit that you’re a very popular figure by now. I don’t read a lot of news, especially the entertainment section. I honestly don’t know much about you, but, your name just appeared everywhere and so too often. Unfortunately, most of the news was on the negative sides. I have to consider you as one of the luckiest girls in this planet due to your financial background and able to have so many options to enhance your life. As an international student, you can’t imagine how much obstacles I have to face just to get a chance to study aboard. Leaving my family, staying at a foreign country and studying a totally different language are tough things to perform. On top of that, I also need to find ways to put up enough $$$ to pay up my enormous tuition bill. Even with all these barriers, I still considered myself a lucky girl because I have been given a chance to succeed. A chance won’t guarantee any success, but at least I will have the opportunity to accomplish it. You are still so young and look so adorable, please try to appreciate all the things that you already owned and don’t try to underestimate your prosperity. Just remember, no one is perfect in this world. Mistakes are no sins as long as you can learn something out of it and try to use the lessons as a foundation to success. I have all the faith in you and hoping that meaningful life is not too far away from you. 

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