Cosmo Goes Nuts, Ignores Its Role In The Issue

Cosmopolitan, that magazine loaded with tons of fat acceptance, on June 4th had a piece on their website that just reeked of complete crap, or at least crap of the disingenuous kind.

In a discussion about Melissa McCarthy’s Oscar attire from last year, they expressed outrage that no prominent designers wanted to design her attire for the occasion.

In the new issue of Redbook, however, McCarthy explains that finding her Oscars look was not easy. Despite the opportunity to have their work worn by a presenter and, you know, also a beautiful, talented, and hilarious actress, “five or six designers, very high-level ones who make lots of dresses for people, all said no” to her requests for a gown. She does not name names, which is polite — designers who don’t want to show off their work on a fuller-figured woman are, in fact, only showing off their own limitations, and probably deserve to be called out for it. It’s not that much more difficult to produce stunning, red carpet-worthy gowns for women with curves than it is for those without; really, it isn’t. So what gives, fashion people? Sort it out, please. And soon.

You get all that?   It’s wrong, damn wrong, that she couldn’t find a designer to do the deed and Cosmo is not happy about it.  It makes me wonder, however, if Cosmo has ever looked inside its own pages.

Here’s July 2014′s cover featuring Katy Perry.

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I’m glad they chose plus-sized icon Katy Perry for the cover so they could teach you her trick for “flat abs.”  When was the last time they even had a “woman with curves,” as they referred to McCarthy, on their cover?  In fact, during a cursory look at their last 20 or so covers, Adele is the only one in the group.

Most of the cover models look a lot more like Katy Perry than Melissa McCarthy.  And by most, I mean nearly all.

And every issue is loaded with tricks on how to lose weight, how to “look better,” how to “have a bikini body” and other euphemisms for “get slim so you aren’t fat.”  Nearly all of the ads are for companies that don’t even make clothing for plus-sized women and when criticism has been lobbed toward media outlets for the pressure they put on young girls, it’s almost always directed at Cosmo primarily because of their reputation of glamorizing thin women, thin clothing designers, and “looking good” (losing weight, etc).

If Cosmo truly felt that what happened to Melissa McCarthy was worthy of scorn, it could be easily fixed and it wouldn’t even take a whole ton on their part to do so considering their clout in the publishing business.

  • They could refuse to accept advertisements from companies that don’t make clothing that fits all sizes of women.  If the clothing line isn’t diverse enough to fit everyone, then they aren’t a good fit for the glossy interior of Cosmo.
  • They could put more plus-sized women on the cover, and I don’t mean plus-sized by the ridiculous definition of what has come to mean plus-sized.  I mean large curvy women of the size that they’ve shunned for years and years.
  • They could actually make an effort to stop running ads with cut up and chiseled guys as well and maybe feature a regular guy or two.  I mean, if you’re going to pretend body image diversity matters, then it should matter for men and women, not just women.

There’s one problem with all of those things, however, and the problem is that they all would actually mean changing their business model, potentially angering advertisers, and maybe losing readers who find plus-sizes disgusting.  They can’t have that, can they?

It’s easy for Cosmo to pontificate on what’s wrong with the world and how everyone else needs to fix it.  It’s much harder when you turn that microscope inward and have to figure out ways that you can help fix it.

Now I should be really clear; I don’t care what Cosmo prints.  I don’t care if they only have the thinnest of thin anorexic-looking celebrities on their cover and run article after article on how important it is to have a 6-pack bikini body and a perfect ass.  My issue with them isn’t the trash they choose to publish on a month-to-month basis because I believe that people have a right to say what they want, publish what they want, and run their business as they see fit.

My problem is when an icon of everything that’s considered “the problem” starts lecturing others on their contribution to it.  It would be the equivalent of someone standing their with a blow torch bitching that people keep starting fires with matches.  It’s all well and good that Cosmo has jumped in the corner of Melissa McCarthy, but that’s a pretty damn hollow gesture, and unless I miss my guess, that plea for designers to get their crap together never even appeared in the magazine, proving that their commitment to this “issue” is as thin as the paper it could potentially be printed on.

Once Cosmo starts walking the walk, I’ll take them a lot more seriously.  For now, it’s just blather and politically correct outrage and as long as they have such a great platform upon which to actually do something and they don’t, you’ll never convince me they mean the words that were printed.


Header via Mingle Media  TV on Flickr

 

Context Doesn’t Just Matter, It’s Everything

In Jonah Hill’s apology to the LGBT community for saying a word that’s so verboten that you have to grovel for days after saying it, he made one very revealing statement that tells you everything you need to know about how devoid of substance our current apology culture really is.

In his apology, he actually said the following sentence.

I said the most hurtful word I could think of at that moment. I didn’t mean this in the sense of the word. I didn’t mean it in a homophobic way. I think that….that doesn’t matter, you know? How you mean things doesn’t matter. Words have weight in meaning. The word I chose was grotesque. No one deserves to say or hear words like that.

Wait, what?  How you mean things doesn’t matter?  Everyone who heard this should be shocked at such a daft statement from a man who makes his living both writing and producing movies and acting, right?  Instead, people are reinforcing his idiotic statement.

Perhaps most significant in all of this is Hill’s acknowledgement that the context and what he meant by the word—a word that, like so many of us, Hill probably heard hurled with impunity throughout his teenage years, just by virtue of being a dude—simply doesn’t matter.

If the context doesn’t matter, then holy crap do we have a lot of things we need to rethink, and we can start with the actual thing that Hill said.  If you recall from yesterday’s post, he told the photographer who he felt was harassing him to “Suck my fucking dick you faggot.”  While he’s gone out of his way to distance himself and self flagellate over the use of the word “faggot,” if context doesn’t matter and only words do, Jonah Hill literally requested a blowjob from the photographer.

See what you get into when you start taking the context away from words?

And Hill is an actor.  In Hill’s movies, he has used the word faggot multiple times.  In fact, in Wolf of Wall Street, Jonah Hill tosses around the word “fag” to provoke a fight in a parking lot.  In Django Unchained, Hill appeared as a KKK member who tossed around the word “nigger” with relative ease.  By Hill’s (and by extension, by A.V. Club’s) rationale, he thinks gay people are fags and black people are niggers, since context doesn’t matter.

Adults inherently understand the importance of context, even when using words that may make people uncomfortable.  The idea that a word has a weight of its own and a mind of its own is childish, simplistic, and flat out stupid, and the idea that there is no need for discussion of context when discussing something someone says tells me that we are a long way off from being the adults we’re supposed to be.

Apologies are only sincere when we address the heart of the statement that warranted the apology.  Apologizing simply for a choice of words tells me that we don’t want to have deeper discussions about what is meant, we just want to be childish and take every word at its face value with no understanding of the intent behind it or the meaning of it.

As someone who makes their bones with words, I’m not really sure I want to live in that world.

Jonah Hill’s comment, though, shouldn’t surprise anyone who follows the media and so on to any extent.  In fact, I’ve talked here about apology culture many times, and there’s one thing in common with nearly every story about someone apologizing: words are punished with a complete disregard for context.

Joan Rivers, as I wrote about a few weeks ago, caught hell for joking that her room at Melissa’s house was as small as the room the Cleveland kidnap girls were held in.  She didn’t diminish their suffering or anything else, but the mere mention of the girls was called disrespectful and everyone jumped on her, resulting in Willie Geist making the most insincere and over the top apology I’ve ever seen a human being make.  The context of her words didn’t matter, she was soundly beaten, verbally, for saying them.

A game development company, Turtle Rock Studios, fired its community manager for saying that Donald Sterling was the victim of a person who betrayed his trust by recording his conversations and distributing them to the media.  In his tweet, he said…

k56nfdbpcck58tjhmhwxTurtle Rock immediately let him go, saying that his comments stand in stark contrast to the beliefs of the company.  Notice, Olin did not say he was correct for his views, only that his privacy was violated and it’s wrong, but the lynch mob focused on his quote of “He’s a victim.” and used that to determine that Olin supported the racism he espoused and therefore he had to be fired.  Again, context be damned.

Pharrell Williams recently landed in hot water for a cover of Elle UK on which he was wearing a Native American head dress.

pharrell-williams-elle-uk-featuredIt didn’t matter that the context wasn’t disrespectful or that he wasn’t pulling a YMCA Indian Chief gimmick, and it didn’t matter that he is, in fact, part Native American, he immediately was harassed until he apologized over the cover, and of course he had to give the usual caveats that he never meant to offend and he honors all cultures.  Some still haven’t accepted his apology and the cries of “cultural appropriation” have run wild, mostly from Western-dressing Native American tribes who wear jeans, sneakers, and other parts of a culture they’re totally not appropriating, you guys.

It just keeps getting more ridiculous, and the more ridiculous it gets, the less we discuss the context of the thing that’s allegedly offensive because all we need is someone to be outraged and that’s good enough to demand an apology even if the “offending” remark or word wasn’t directed directly at them or to them.

Jonah Hill’s admission that context doesn’t matter is very enlightening and shines light on a problem we have in this country and, to a similar extent, the rest of the world: we’re shallow, thoughtless, and base in our arguments and reactionary in our comments on current events, particularly controversial ones.  When anyone can say, to a modern civilized world that “What you meant don’t matter; we only care about what you said because we can’t be bothered to give you the courtesy of thinking about meaning before we react,” we’re setting ourselves down a bad and dangerous path.

I’m scared.


Header Image via David Goehring on Flickr

 

Jonah Hill’s “Perfect Apology” Is Bullshit

After being followed and annoyed by a paparazzi photographer who made a crack about the shorts he was wearing, Jonah Hill, told him to “Suck my fucking dick you faggot.”  The right to say it notwithstanding, Hill did it to a man carrying a video camera who, probably, immediately saw the gold he was carrying, and went to TMZ with the footage.  The rest, of course, is as predictable as the day is long, and Hill immediately began the grovel that accompanies all slips of the tongue in 2014 in an effort to prove that his words did not represent his true feelings about the LGBT community.

After showing up on the Howard Stern show, he appeared the same night on Jimmy Fallon’s show and basically repeated the same apology, but on Fallon’s show, he got choked up, then chose to martyr himself by telling everyone “If you want to do what I did, use me as an example.” Translation: look at what I’m going through and make a better decision.

The headhunters in the media immediately jumped out to say this was a “perfect” apology and applauded Hill for groveling in the right amount.  Everyone was so happy that this sniveling snot apology hit all the necessary points to be considered contrite and the world moves on.

Screw that.  Someone has to call Jonah Hill out on his bullshit and you know what?  Seeing as I pride myself on being an expert bovine fecal matter detector, it might as well be me.

First of all, let’s address the big part of the issue: he called someone a faggot.  The only equivalent word in the English language these days is nigger, and both send the lynchmob into a feeding frenzy (as long as your politics or reputation don’t match the “accepted” ones).  I’m going to lay some knowledge on you, and this is going to shock some of you.  Ready?  I love racial humor.  And sexist humor.  And gender humor.  And sexual orientation humor.  The more offensive it is, the higher the probability that I’ll enjoy it.  I make jokes all the time, and I love making offensive jokes in an elbow-to-the-ribs kinda way.  I make black, puerto rican, and gay jokes with friends of those stripes without any thought that they’ll be offended and we all have a good laugh over them.

But one thing I have never and would never do is use a slur and direct it at someone.  I have never called a black person a nigger, a gay person a faggot, or any other slur.  You can ask anyone who knows me and they’ll confirm it for you: I simply do not use those words toward other people.  I’ll readily admit to using them in jokes or in smart-ass remarks, but I never once have ever used them to refer to another person.  This is where Jonah Hill, to me, is a liar.

See, I’ve been really pissed off at people who I could come up with a convenient ethnic, racial, or sexual orientation slur for, but the words have never come out of my mouth.  They’re not at the tip of my tongue and they don’t “slip out” no matter how angry I get.  It just doesn’t happen.  Hill, however, wanted to insult someone who criticized his clothing.  The clear implication he made with his choice of the word “faggot” is that if you notice another man’s clothing, you’re gay and if I want to hurt a gay person, the best thing I can do is call them a faggot.  So that’s what he did, adding a request for fellatio to punch it up.   In Hill’s apology, he says “I said a disgusting word that does not reflect at all how I feel about any group of people.”

Jonah Hill, you are a liar.

Calling someone a faggot in that circumstance doesn’t slip out of your mouth unless you have used it in that way in the past.  It’s convenient that he doesn’t feel this way about any group of people, yet his remark, when rationalized through the perspective of where that would come from, seems to fit a perfect stereotype of the kind of person you would call a “faggot.”  If that word didn’t reflect your opinion of a group of people, then it wouldn’t have come to mind in such a perfect circumstance.  Instead, you picked the exact right time to use a term you never use about a group you don’t feel a certain way about all by coincidence?  Not bloody likely, dude.

In his apology on the Stern show he makes sure to defend himself by saying that he was going to spend time with his gay friend who was about to be married.  It’s the old “I’m not a homophobe; I have lots of gay friends” thing, and everyone just ate it up like it was so heartwarming of him to say.

On Fallon, Hill broke down in his groveling, getting choked up when talking about how he shouldn’t have done it.  The NY Daily News couldn’t get enough of Hill’s apology, saying it was “A sincere celebrity apology” and praising him for doing it on Fallon as if he booked the visit simply for the apology and not to promote his new movie, 22 Jump Street.  They even, helpfully, told you how to grovel for yourself in case you ever need to.  How helpful!

Now I’m going to basically take everything I just wrote and invalidate it to an extent.  I don’t hink Jonah Hill should have to apologize, except maybe to the camera person and in that regard only if they were personally offended by being called a faggot.  He doesn’t have to apologize to the community at large, the LGBT community, special interest groups, activists, or anyone else in the pitchfork and torch crowd.  In fact, the whole reason he had to give this bullshit apology in the first place is because we sit around waiting for people to slip up so that we can extract our pound of flesh from them.  Everyone lies in wait for their moment to demonstrate the power they have over them.  We don’t have to wait long to find out if someone offended an aggrieved group because the offenderati are there to immediately grab the issue and run with it because, frankly, they have nothing better to do.

A celebrity or anyone else should only have to apologize when they feel the need to and they should never have an apology extracted from them the way people do today.  Similarly, you are not entitled to an apology when something doesn’t concern you directly.  You do not have the right to ask for an apology for something that does not directly affect you (and I don’t mean your group by race, ethnicity, gender orientation, sexual orientation or anything else, I mean you specifically ).  If Jonah Hill using a word you find offensive is such a great affront to you as a person, even if the word wasn’t directed at you, you probably need to re-evaluate your life.  And if this “apology,” his groveling, and his horrendous explanation for his behavior sate you, then you’re probably not really offended to begin with.  You just want your pound of flesh so that you can show you have power over another person.

That kind of megalomaniacal lauding of power over others is probably more a cause for apology  than some dope celebrity saying a bad word.