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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

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The First Wives Club Franchise

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We’re going to shake things up a little in this month’s edition of Casting Couch. Instead of simply remaking a film, we’d like to present the case for a hypothetical franchise. We all know and love The First Wives Club (with the exception of Jazmine, who has not seen this or literally any movie ever). What if the film didn't stop with just the first wives? What if, much like The Fast and The Furious franchise, we simply got 2 Wives 2 Furious? YOU’RE WELCOME, HOLLYWOOD. READ MORE

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Teenage Bedrooms on Screen

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Thank you, Tracy, for sending me this Tumblr scrapbook of teenager's bedrooms in movies. As someone who still has posters taped to her wall (with really nice washi tape, but: still) and who still enjoys a good slammed-door "ugh get out of my room you don't understand me I told you to knock before you come in here!!" end to an argument, these images really speak to me.

An Interview With a Wealthy Retiree About His Taxes

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George (not his real name) is a 47-year-old retiree living on investment income.

So, George, tell us a bit about your taxes this year.

My adjusted gross income was $502,000 last year, mostly in the form of long-term capital gains. I had about $169,000 in deductions, and owe $61,000 in federal and $29,000 in state taxes.

Both my income and deductions are unusually high this year; the income because I sold a lot of stock to pay for an apartment purchase (triggering capital gains), and the deductions because I made a large charitable donation to a donor-advised fund this year, in order to bring my taxes down.

That's incredible. I assume at this point you are well aware of your yearly tax burden; finding out that you owe $90,000 in taxes is not a surprise to you?

Having a high tax bill is always good news for me, because it means I had high income.

READ MORE

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Helen and I

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Growing up half-Indian, half-Afghan in a less-than-average English town mostly populated by white people meant I was never really able to be in touch with my ethnic cultures. The closest connection I developed was one forced upon just about every brown kid ever: Bollywood. I danced to Hoothon Pe Aisi Baat, wore out my Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dil To Pagal Hai videotapes, cried to Ek Pyaar Ka Nagma Hai, wondered how much Kajol restrained shivering as she stood in a lightweight sari on a crisp snowy mountain in the Swiss Alps while she was caressed by one of the Khans.

The entire Bollywood-watching populace is obsessed with the movie Sholay, a spaghetti Western-inspired masala film that even ran in some Indian theatres for years. The movie was my introduction to an item girl known mononymously as Helen.

An “item girl” is a seductress who often has a minor role—often a song—in a movie where she and a leading man would work together to make the leading lady jealous, or she may just have a cameo in one song which is used tirelessly to promote a film.

The concept of an item girl has been a subject of much contention in India. Item girls were crafted and developed for the male gaze, and some people, such as actress Shabana Azmi, have attributed it to the “sexualization of children”, but her justification lies in a familiar rhetoric: the notion that sexual liberation is always gratuitous and needs to be toned down. Seeing women celebrate their bodies is not something to avoid—women’s bodies belong to the women themselves and no one else.

Famous for her work in Bollywood movies throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Helen approached her roles with her own definition of seduction; a scrappy elegance that was a big middle finger to the clean, pure, beehived, cat-eyed, plain-sari wearing leading lady so often seen in films of this era. The notion of “purity” and “modesty” in a woman and particularly their clothing was imposed on India by the British Raj. Helen came out of nowhere—the antithesis of the ‘respectable’ lady—like an explosion of sparkly eyeshadow and allure.

I would like to share with you—whether you know Helen or are a complete newbie—five of my favourite Helen numbers. READ MORE

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BAUMGARTNER: It was certainly an inappropriate thing for someone to do in the workplace, but the message behind that was the same message that was behind a lot of the episode. His naiveté got him in trouble, but part of what he was doing, in an age where you were so overloaded on the PC side, and nobody was able to say anything, was forcing people to examine from a naive perspective, why isn’t this something we can talk about? Obviously a work place setting is what makes everyone uncomfortable, but I think just bringing up the issue of race and not hiding is why I’m proud of it.

KINSEY: Whenever I read our scripts, there were so many that we did that were part of the cringe humor. I think Archie Bunker did that on All in the Family, which is a super old call-back because I’m an old lady [laughs]. But one of your lead characters is inappropriate, you get to call them out on their crap. Say, “No, that’s wrong, dude!” And I feel like we did that throughout all those seasons. I have such fond feelings for this episode and obviously for this show.

Uproxx has a great oral history of The Office's "Diversity Day" episode, the one where Michael reenacts a Chris Rock joke, which premiered ten years ago this week. Like the highbrow self-important ~*~*internet critic~*~* that I am, I always bought in to the popular opinion that The Office took a long time to get its footing, but this was their second episode ever, and arguably one of their best: the episode reinforces the idea that even well-intended allyship can still go horribly awry, and that people—particularly heterosexual white men in positions of power—shouldn't be praised for just trying. (I watched this episode a lot when writing an essay on the politics of racial humor; all "research" should have Steve Carrell in it, in my opinion.)

I've always loved this episode because it's just such a good example of how to deal with racial humor: there are tons of racist and stereotypical jokes within it, but those tropes are not the joke—Michael Scott's absurd belief that adopting them and having others guess one's identity accordingly is the way towards racial harmony is. It's a refreshing upending of norms: instead of singularly relying on hoary stereotypes for humor (I'm looking at you, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), BJ Novak, who wrote the episode (with Larry Wilmore as a consultant!) throws those stereotypes into our faces. By inserting them into farcical scenario, we can then see that the stereotypes themselves are farcical, and then we can eschew them, all while laughing and amping up hope that Jim and Pam will end up together. Let's just take 30 and rewatch it real quick? | March 24, 2015

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"Sound The Sexy Alarms"

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MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE *airhorn* *but a sexy airhorn*

Lola Pellegrino and Krista Burton have blessed us with the third instalment of their excellent series, "The Sex Crylebration." It's funny and sweet and a little weird and arousing in unexpected places, just like...well, you know. Read it!! You'll like it!!

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Having It Some posts the policies of parental and family leave of various workplaces, because we all have a right to know. | March 23, 2015

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5 Ways to Tell If He's Into You: Kingdom Animalia Edition

the-trouble-with-mergers-september-10-1994If You're A Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis):

Okay, I know how very fine this dude looks: long neck, those rogue-ish horns, but don't rush it. Instead, try casually flirting with him by urinating close to where he's grazing. You'll know he's into you if he approaches, sniffs, and helps himself. If he likes what he tastes, it's on! Lift your tiny tail and get your booty down. But girl, if he's not into your flavour and trots away, remind yourself that it is his loss. At times like this, it's helpful to remember your mother's favourite adage: there are plenty of necks in the savannah.

If You're A Peacock Spider (Maratus volans):

Girl! This guy's definitely feeling you if he's waving his brightly coloured abdominal flaps and applauding you with his third set of legs. You might not be in the mood, but he's certainly willing to risk it! While he avoids your attempts to maim him, stop to admire his smooth sideways dance. Remember to award points for effort. If you're into it, (and he's still alive) go for it and let your hairy palps down! But if you're still not feeling it, don't worry, you can always eat him. READ MORE

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Hilary Duff Returns to TV in Brand New Series

Brought to you by TV Land

TV Land’s newest original series Younger, is brought to you by the creator of Sex and the City and stars Tony Award® winner Sutton Foster, Hilary Duff, Debi Mazar and Miriam Shor. The comedy, based on the novel, Younger, follows 40 year-old Liza (Foster) as she tries to get back into the working world, only to find it’s nearly impossible to start at the bottom at her age.

Liza tries to pass herself as a 26 year old in order to get a job in the highly competitive world of publishing – and succeeds. After landing the career of her dreams, Liza has to figure out how to balance her real life with bestie Maggie (Mazar) and her “pretend” work life with her new coworker Kelsey (Duff).

The series Premieres on Tuesday March 31 at 10pm/9pm C.

Be sure to tune-in every Tuesday and join the conversation online by using #YoungerTV. For more information, visit tvland.com/shows/younger

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A Poem That I Can Also Say In Dutch Based on Phrases I Learned In Duolingo

unnamedHello, shoes!
Girls are not weak
The weak men drink wine
Sorry!

I am not paying you
You have an important duck
We have a few cats
The weak sheep sees her
No red clothes, please.
My orange is not orange.
You eat sandwiches.
You eat sandwiches.

Do you hear the bad men?
It is quiet.
I have small sheep. It is a small sheep.
Thank you, that is mine.

It is not empty
It is not empty
It is not.

READ MORE

A Flip-Flop Manifesto from a Terribly Wrong and Dangerous Person

LOOK AT HOW DISGUSTING THIS IS WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOUPeople drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, writer and editor Elon Green tells us more about the depths of his love for flip-flops.

Elon! So what happened here?

So: I love flip-flops. I’m not ashamed. To the detriment of my feet, probably, I wear them as often as I can, well into the winter months. I know they can kill me, but in life you pick your battles. They’re like walking on a cloud, and any chill I might suffer is more than offset by the phalangeal freedom.

I’m not promiscuous. I won’t wear just any brand—only Rainbows. (I credit my college roommate Matt, who turned me on to them years ago. He said, correctly, they were the greatest footwear on earth.) They’re not for everyone. Even if you’re used to them, your feet will probably bleed a bit during the first week as you break ’em in. But after that, you’re home free and it’s glorious.

READ MORE

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A Dress To Die For

V0042226 Two skeletons dressed as lady and gentleman. Etching, 1862.
With gifts they shall be sent,
Gifts to the bride to spare their banishment,
Fine robings and a carcanet of gold.
Which raiment let her once but take, and fold
About her, a foul death that girl shall die
And all who touch her in her agony.
Such poison shall they drink, my robe and wreath!
Howbeit, of that no more. I gnash my teeth
Thinking on what a path my feet must tread
Thereafter. I shall lay those children dead—
Mine, whom no hand shall steal from me away!
Then, leaving Jason childless, and the day
As night above him, I will go my road
To exile, flying, flying from the blood
Of these my best-beloved, and having wrought
All horror, so but one thing reach me not,
The laugh of them that hate us.

Let it come!

Is it possible to read Medea without getting chills? Long before Taylor Swift faux-dismissed her haters, who are going to hate, hate, hate, Medea gnashed her teeth and shouted to the fates, “Let it come!” Rather than shake it off or preach a milquetoast revenge of living well, she razed her own precious life to the ground. Medea salted the earth and killed her children. She destroyed her cheating husband. And most importantly for this particular article, she murdered her competition with the trappings of royalty. She sent the princess Glauce a golden dress drenched in poison.

Medea was the first Greek play I ever read the whole way through, and that crazy queen has a special place in my heart. When she speaks, anger permeates every sentence; poison seems to seep from the page. Some of the anger is righteous—after all, she was just kicked out of her own home by her husband, Jason, who returns from war with a new, younger girl in tow. But Glauce doesn’t deserve death by dress any more than Medea’s children deserve to be slaughtered.

Medea is not the earliest mention of a poisoned dress in history, but it remains one of the most powerful in Western literature. Similar myths have shown up in ancient Hebrew, India, and modern Europe. According to one Greek myth, Hercules was killed by a poisoned robe that burned his skin and flayed him alive.

Like other narrative arcs that replay over and over in our fairy tales and myths, the poison dress resonates for a reason. Clothing is intended to shelter us, to provide a firm barrier between the squishy stuff of our personhood and the sharp edges of the outside world. Clothing should protect us and shield our nervous parts from the thorns of Eden.

But despite its intended function, clothing is often harmful—particularly to the women who wear it and the workers who make it. Beauty is pain. And it’s a pain that begins far before Glauce tightens the strings on her golden bodice, long before ladies shimmied into their arsenic-laced gowns, long before we stepped into our Forever 21 high heels and stumbled towards the nearest bar. It’s a pain that begins in production. READ MORE

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Chop Suey, The Game for Girls

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Hairpin pal Amy Rose Spiegel tweeted out this article sometime this weekend and I can't stop thinking about it—it's about Chop Suey, the 1995 video game aimed at girls 7-to-12. It's got everything—the vocal talents of a yet-unknown David Sedaris, who's voice is so high-pitched and goofy that's it hard to know whether or not to take him seriously, a devotion to X-Ray specs, and three sequential husbands named Bob. I'd never played it as a kid, but I so deeply wish I did—even now, I was drawn instantly to its casual, colorful aesthetic, done by Monica Lynn Gesue. The game never really took off, and, tragically, the game's creator Theresa Duncan died in 2007, but it was critically acclaimed, and Duncan released two more games before her death. Anyway, what I'm saying is: want to come over later and paint our nails with glitter and go shopping at Limited Too and play Chop Suey?

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#WorldsMostTalkedAboutMagazine

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Yesterday Durga emailed Jazmine and I to remind us that it was the one-year anniversary of this piece I wrote; if she hadn't, I definitely would have not remembered, and even if I had, my own conservative estimate would have been that I wrote that approximately ten years ago, because it just feels like so much time has elapsed. I kind-of-but-also-so-seriously joked about doing a "Where Are They Now" follow-up to the piece, like, "Anna Wintour: still a troll. Kanye West: dancing like a dad. Kim Kardashian: perfection achieved" but THEN

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Ok. Let's talk about my feelings, because they are, as you've probably guessed, plentiful.
READ MORE

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Weekend Roundup / Open Thread

You know when a friend gchats you saying "I am about to give you the greatest gift you've ever received" and you're like "what is it, lasagna?" but it turns out it's EVEN BETTER THAN LASAGNA and actually a mildly embarrassing-mostly cute video of them on Jeopardy? Hi, Beejoli. Thank you for sharing your gift. And since we're already talking about women we love and the gifts they give us, where would we without Safy Hallan Farah and Hannah Giorgis' amazing essay on East African women or this video of Ellie Shechet getting drunk with Kristen from Vanderpump Rules or North West living her best life? Nowhere. Thank you, ladies.

Pretty chill week over here on the Hairpin dot com: Haley went to a bookstore, I went off the pill, Larissa showed her hand. We almost bought some weird lamps, had some embarrassing sex dreams, grew up in Calgary, counseled Kim Kardashian, prayed to Cookie Lyon, used Tinder, texted our moms, talked about fuck club, and had brown hair.

We worked smart. We worked hard. We worked, you might say, OUR TITS DOWN TO THE GODDAMNED NUBS. We could use a nice break. See you on Monday.