“While You Were Out,” is a Friday feature of short notes and commentary from the week. Whether it’s something you’d discuss at the water cooler or at happy hour, you’ll find it on our grid, together with our opinion as to whether it’s praiseworthy or cringeworthy. We’re pleased to bring you the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
It’s Oscar Time!
The Academy Awards air this Sunday evening, and you know what that means: Last call to binge on Oscar-nominated films! We at Verilyhave our picks for who should win the night’s big awards… what are yours?
SNL Turns 40
Saturday Night Live celebrated its 40th anniversary this week, commemorating the occasion with an episode that had more than 23 million viewers and cameos from such comedy greats as Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, Chevy Chase, and Steve Martin. The much-anticipated three-and-a-half hour broadcast also included actor favorites Christopher Walken, Tom Hanks, John Goodman, Robert De Niro, and Jack Nicholson and such music legends as Paul Simon and Paul McCartney. Highlights included a return of Will Ferrell’s "Celebrity Jeopardy," a collaborative "Weekend Update" with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and veteran Jane Curtain, and a classic Wayne’s World segment—not to mention countless props to the show’s 40-year writer and producer Lorne Michaels. Congrats to SNL on 40 years of what looks like the most fun collaborative venture on television—no doubt with the best after-parties as well.
NY Fashion Week
New York Fashion Week is always a whirlwind of colors and creativity. This past week fashionistas from all over the world braved the arctic temperatures to see the unveiling of the fall/winter collections. Whether you were attending a show, looking at the parade of street style surrounding the events, or seeing everything from the comfort of your home, it felt like living in a gigantic mood board. I was mentally pinning new styling ideas, color combinations, and names of emerging designers. Alice + Olivia by Stacey Bendet put on a spectacular presentation full of jewel tones, brocade, and amazing wide-leg pants. Zac Posen left everyone speechless with his silk gowns and intricate cut-outs. Milly put on a heart-pumping show full of vibrant colors and geometric shapes. Some pieces were inspired by origami. No matter what your personal style is, this week was a Pandora’s box of inspiration.
Breaking the Mold...
Also at New York Fashion Week, a model with Down syndrome walked the catwalk for the first time in the event's history. The model, Jamie Brewer, is an actress and disabilities advocate and starred in designer Carrie Hammer's show alongside other inspiring women such as Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant and Malala Fund co-founder Shiza Shahid. Last year's debut campaign was just as groundbreaking, featuring Danielle Sheypuk, the first wheelchair-bound model at New York Fashion Week. Hammer's campaign "Role Models Not Runway Models" is aiming to radically change the face of the fashion industry by providing empowering role models for women from all walks of life, in clothes actually designed to fit real women of all different shapes and sizes. Now that’s refreshing.
Lady Gaga Gets Engaged
Lady Gaga is in a "bad romance" no more. The flamboyant pop singer accepted longtime boyfriend Taylor Kinney’s proposal on Valentine’s Day, letting her little monsters in on the good news with an Instagram post showing her gorgeous heart-shaped ring. Many congratulations to the couple! Perhaps an album full of happy love songs to belt out and boogie down to is in our future?
A Short History of Positive Music-Makers, by TBoz and Chilli
The bestselling all-female group in the history of pop music, TLC, is turning it over to fans to help them accomplish their wish for a final album. The group’s Kickstarter campaign,"TLC is BACK,” has resulted in an abundance of loving messages and well wishes from fans, causing TBoz and Chilli to pen an article at HuffPo highlighting some of the special moments that have colored pop music's history. The letter is not only a thank you to their devoted following but a love letter to the artists who have inspired generations as well as them. Among the mentions are the obvious heavy hitters like Smokey Robinson and The Beatles and ends with newer faces like Mark Ronson and Pharrell.
“We are at a place in time when fellow artists can raise one another up and sponsor one another into an age of creative freedom," their letter begins. "And in the future ahead, what we have to look forward to, as a community, is a new wave of creative expression."
In an age of Kickstarter and digital albums when record labels no longer hold all the cards, there is a new sense of the innovation and expression on the part of veteran artists. This bold move of TLC, essentially asking fans to be the patrons of the art they wish to see, is further evidence of this new cultural conversation about who we believe should be making music.
—Hannah Allen White
If you read Verily regularly, you may have noticed a pet peeve of mine: when words and art contradict each other. This is a common theme in pop music these days, when a song purports to be a love song but is actually about very non-lovey things, for instance; or when a strong-sounding ballad actually preaches lyrics of complacency and unempoweredness; or when a potential-filled song like Ariana Grande’s “Love Me Harder” undoes itself with contradictory duet lyrics. The latest in ew-licious mixed messages came this week as Selena Gomez’s cover story in V Magazine was unveiled. On the interior pages, Gomez comments about the value of growing up and guarding herself. On the outside cover, however, she poses made up like a babydoll and topless. Hm.
Referring to her former romance with Justin Bieber and subsequent heartbreak, Gomez says in the cover story, “I think the next time will be much different… which will definitely not be any time soon. That’s a growing-up kind of thing. I was 18 years old, and it was my first love. The older I get, I’m guarding certain things more. After being put through the scrutiny, I understand what it is. ...You live and you learn, you know?” Yea, Selena, I totally know what you’re saying! The trouble is, I forget that really quickly when I see the cover again. Then I see a sexualized babydoll and sorta throw up a little in my mouth.
What’s sad is that this trend of women shedding clothes on magazine covers is only increasing. We’d be wrong if we thought the nude-cover-shoot trend was just a pregnant-celebrity thing, or a Sports Illustrated thing, or even just a Kardashian-family thing. But don’t despair. Objectifying covers may be increasing in other mags like V Mag, but if that annoys you stick around, because you can trust you’ll never see that at Verily.
OK, So Maybe She Didn’t Wake Up Like That
We all know Photoshop is a problem in the media—and particularly in media and advertising geared toward women. Over the last few years the misleading imagery has not only been acknowledged but the illusion is beginning to unravel. The queen of the universe Beyoncé is the latest famous face to have raw photos leaked and the Internet is losing its mind. Understandably people feel mislead by the cosmetics company who took the photos, manipulated them, and sold a product based on said photos—but some fans feel misled by Queen Bey herself. Of course it’s unlikely she had final say in those photos; most likely she booked a job and let the chips fall where they may like many of us have done many times. But if we want to stop seeing women age 33 looking like they have the complexion of a 19-year-old, write to L'Oreal Cosmetics and tell them so. Don't buy their products, and tell them this is why. If you want to see what a 33-year-old woman's skin really looks like, then spend some time with your 33-year-old friend. Because if there is anything to take away from this it's that Beyoncé is, like that friend, a beautiful woman who doesn't need visual trickery for you to admire, respect, and love her.
Cindy Crawford Photoshop Debate
In other Photoshop-scandal news this week is the trending topic of Cindy Crawford’s never-published au naturale cover photo for Marie Claire Mexico in December 2013. Rumors have abounded that Crawford insisted they run with no retouching or airbrushing, causing fans to swell in support of the world’s original supermodel. Now that it’s been revealed the photos were, in fact, leaked, critics have used that as a jumping-off point saying her graceful response and positive feedback on social media means she didn't intend for the shots to ever see the light of day and she's merely being the gracious camera-ready model she's been trained to be.
Crawford has always been a pleasant voice of body-positive mindset in the shallow world of high fashion so her response to a Marie Claire reporter about these pictures at the premiere of her new documentary isn't surprising: "I really think—at any age—it's learning to be comfortable in your own skin. ...If women would treat themselves with the same kind of love they give to their friends, that would be such a great gift we could give ourselves… What makes you the most attractive is self-confidence. That's what people see."
Good point, Cindy Crawford. Good point.
A Little Breathing Room, Please
Just one week after Jon Stewart announced his plan to leave The Daily Show, the world is speculating who will replace the longtime host. After many fans rushed to lift up Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams as successor, the 25-year-old comedian attempted to silence the speculation by tweeting that she’s “not hosting” and feels “extremely underqualified for the job.” Far from silencing, the statement caused more uproar—now including accusations that Williams is suffering from “Impostor Syndrome,” when people are unable to acknowledge their own accomplishments—and extra pressure that she should accept it as a black woman to even the scales of diversity in late-night television. But Williams stood her ground: “I am a black woman, and I am a feminist, and I am so many things. I am truly honored that people love my work. But I am not yours.”
Funny Yet True
This week O Magazine shares some interesting facts about one of our fave actresses Anna Kendrick. Among them is this insightful tidbit of her best relationship advice: “If you tell a guy you don't like being tickled and he tickles you anyway, that's a red flag.” So simple, yet so true!
So Here’s a Recap of the Fifty Shades Movie
Just kidding, I didn’t watch it. The much-hyped Fifty Shades of Grey may have earned more than $94 million in theaters this weekend, but it earned none of mine. As a culture writer I usually feel compelled to see films, even bad ones, just to participate in the cultural conversation, but this time was different. I already regret what I’ve read in the books, so why ingest more crap? I decided instead to participate in an activist campaign #50DollarsNot50Shades. The women at my local battered women’s shelter will use the money better than Hollywood, for sure. And if it weren’t a compelling enough reason that the story romanticizes domestic violence—to the point where one film reviewer said she found it so disturbing she had to leave—I can’t help but be turned off to hear the lead actress relaying the extreme discomfort she endured just to play the role.
“There were some painful moments,” Dakota Johnson toldGlamour magazine. “I got whiplash once from him throwing me on the bed; so f--king painful.” Other times she was “blindfolded, and I was being hit with this bizarre tool. …It was emotionally taxing.” It didn’t get any better from there; in fact it appears she submitted into thinking she had no choice but to go through with it: “At first I was like, 'Oh my God, this is the worst thing ever,' and then I was like, 'All right, let's get on with it.'" If that weren’t enough, the actress herself has said “there’s part of me that’s like, I don’t want anyone to see this movie.”
So did I miss a cultural moment? Maybe. But I’m happy to stand by the principle that if a film looks abusive and exploitative, sounds abusive and exploitative, and the lead actress herself even says there were moments that were literally “painful” and dehumanizing, then, suffice it to say, I will proudly choose not to support it.
TV Swipes at Woody Allen
What do you do when a cultural icon becomes tricky to talk about? Apparently, you have pop culture TV shows make the awkward comments for you. Woody Allen, the celebrated film director whose personal life started to dominate the conversation after his marriage to his partner's daughter Soon-Yi in the 90s and recent allegations by his adopted daughter Dylan that he sexually assaulted her, was referenced in not one but two high-profile TV shows this week. Jane the Virgin began its latest episode with the narrator opening: "There’s an old Woody Allen quote: 'If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.' And though I have complicated feelings about Woody Allen, post Soon-Yi, it's still a very wise quote." The HBO show Girls also referenced the Soon-Yi scandal with the character of Jessa quoting Woody Allen's comments after his May-December marriage that "the heart wants what the heart wants," without realizing what the quote was actually talking about. Yes, you can try to separate an artist’s personal life from his or her work, but when it’s the personal life that is inspiring others’ creativity and not the work, you have a problem.
Dr. Seuss Returns With a New Book!
Mark your calendars for July 28! According to Random House Children's Books, that is the date for the release of What Pet Should I Get by the late Theodore "Ted" Seuss Geisel who we all know as Dr. Seuss. Although he passed away in 1991 he left behind sketches and text which have been unearthed by his widow, Audrey Geisel, who said the discovery wasn't entirely surprising as her husband worked constantly on multiple projects at once. The manuscript was likely written between 1958 and 1962. This publication is especially meaningful to Geisel since this year is the 25th anniversary of the book Oh, The Places You'll Go! which was the last book her husband published.
Ferrero Dies on V Day
If you're anything like me you know that a little box of gold-wrapped Ferrero Rocher chocolates can make almost any bad situation better. Like little balls of golden happiness those truffles are everyday luxuries, a tiny indulgence just fancy enough to make shoving them in your mouth on the way home from the grocery store a somehow acceptable, even classy, experience. Sadly, Michele Ferrero, the founder and subsequently richest candy maker in the world passed away this Valentine’s Day. His company released a statement saying Ferrero, who had been ill for several months, passed away surrounded by his family. We appreciate his contribution to the world—which also includes the beloved cocoa spread Nutella—and send our love to his family.
Don’t Fear the Reaper
Do you know someone on Facebook who passed away, only to have people create a memorial out of his or her Facebook profile? Whether you’ve experienced this as heart-warming or shudder-worthy, the company has now come up with a way to pass on your Facebook legacy—or shut it down entirely—after your death.
Good to know, for sure. But all of this just makes me think: For something as frivolous as Facebook, I hope it’s the last thing on my mind when I die.
Beagle Wins Best in Show
This week a four-year-old beagle from Canada named Miss P. followed in her great aunt Uno's footsteps by taking home the coveted Best In Show title at the 139th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Miss P.—short for Peyton—is the second beagle in the history of the show to take home this title after her great aunt. At Madison Square Garden’s ceremony, Miss P. was applauded like the doggy royalty she is when her title was announced. Owned by mother-daughter duo Lori and Kaitlyn Crandlemire, this little beagle is seriously the picture of cuteness, with or without the crown of the canine world on her sweet little head.