Tag: Media

On President Trump and Scrutiny

“Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.”
― H.L. Mencken

I read this piece from The Washington Post today and it made me genuinely wonder how this political moment and the personality of this president is going to be viewed, both in a few years and further down the line. George W. Bush has gone from being almost universally derided to being seen as a gentle sort of man who probably wanted to the do the right thing but was perhaps not equal to the task. This is an enormously flattering take, in my opinion, but it exists. Barack Obama is increasingly seen as a idealistic and probably personally good man who fell short of his own ideals and disappointed many. What are we going to make of Donald Trump with his frankly brilliant showmanship and his seething grievance, his apparent privilege and his ever present resentment of scrutiny and criticism? I then realized something that I’ve been struggling to put into words about Mr. Trump that finally clicked into place. That’s what defines so much of his behavior and statements since coming into office: a reaction to scrutiny.

I joke about this a lot, but I don’t believe the sentiment is entirely true.

Mr. Trump is strange because he catapulted from celebrity into public life (which are NOT the same thing, just ask the Royal Family). Celebrity is a space where personality is everything, selling your own narrative arc to the public in the great public theatre of pop culture is part of the job. In this world, your foibles and failings can be winked at if not treated as actual assets. Mr. Trump cultivated shamelessness as armor against criticism and leveraged it into a successful brand. The only thing that matters is your fandom, they are your social leverage and quite often your marketing.

Public life is different. Shame is one of the great levelers in it and is supposed to act as a policing measure, something we are now watching fail in real time as an administration (far from one person or personality) copes with several scandals in any given week which would have ground most previous administrations to a halt or broken them. Fans are not the same thing as allies and in this world you need the latter. And yet, in this world, the glare of attention does not just come with adoration or outrage, it comes with scrutiny. That seems to be what Mr. Trump didn’t really expect and which he is coping with extraordinarily badly.

On just a personality level he simple doesn’t seem capable (or indeed interested) in behaving with the reserve we have historically expected of our presidents and insists on emoting publicly. I’m personally wrestling with the idea that this is something I’ve been clamoring for in men and masculinity for a long time. If we are going to insist on space for different emotional displays in women than what has been historically acceptable and encouraged, we must do the same in men. Does the president of the United States have a right to be petty in public? Maybe he does. But like so many of the gender changes we are going through as a culture, this is such a rapid shift that we are having to grapple with the fallout of it in real time. Some of this fallout is an omnipresent attention on the president’s emotional state. He finds this unflattering and unfair, but in many ways it’s a self created problem. More on that in a moment.

On a higher level, how dare his business life be looked into? How dare the movements and actions of his children be front page news? How dare his motives be questioned or his rants on Twitter be evaluated as statements of policy? In other words, how dare we the public (especially the unfriendly public whose votes he didn’t win) scrutinize him?

He didn’t seem to realize that this is literally part of the job. This is what being a president is. It’s often one half of the country hating you, and everything you doing carrying weight. He seems love and crave the attention while resenting it at the same time. He enjoys the spotlight, but that same spotlight is shining into areas of his life and business that he probably thought (with good reason) might not see the light of day and he’d rather it not.

I’m fascinated by reporting that focuses on his businesses because having worked in similar industries, I know how often those industries (while absolutely following the letter of the law in most cases and doing nothing illegal in the slightest) can be vehicles for transactions and behavior that the vast majority of the population finds distasteful at the very least. The business world of the very wealthy is one of the great engines of capitalism, but there are also a lot of shades of gray around the edges. In its most extreme cases, there is an awful lot of white collar crime that goes on that is simply never paid attention or prosecuted. I would not be surprised if the Trump Organization participated in this, what reporting is out there indicates that this is at least possible if not likely. But this sort of crime and behavior is so rarely punished. We kind of wink at it as a society–which is a whole topic in and of itself. Had he never won the presidency, it’s entirely likely to me that Mr. Trump could have continued existing in this probable space as well as his celebrity space very comfortably and profitably for the rest of his career.

But the office brings scrutiny and that’s fundamentally different from publicity. For better or worse, the office is different from the man and no matter how hard he tries to combine the two (which it really seems as though he is trying to do, which is also a topic for another day because I think this has interesting potential to affect our politics as a nation permanently), holding this office means that the stakes have changed and certain people or groups are going to hold him accountable for things he has never been asked to answer for. His emotional state is a matter of national interest. His business relationships may have security implications. His bad behavior is suddenly not a brand consistent foible, it’s a liability.

It may very well turn out that the Trump Organization did nothing illegal or even unethical during the campaign, especially with foreign interference. They sure aren’t acting like it, but it’s possible. It’s also possible that it never occurred to key people that the meetings they were taking may have been dangerous and unethical–I genuinely wonder this. Again, none of these people with few exceptions had engaged in public life before. Celebrity yes, but not public service. They may simply have not realized what a massive conflict of interest it was to take meetings with certain actors, how unethical and in appropriate it would seem for the office. Ignorance doesn’t make them less responsible or mean they shouldn’t be held accountable, but as an explanation it too is possible.

When I say I think Mr. Trump is unfit for the job, this is a big part of what I mean. He didn’t seem to understand some of these implications about winning the office and as he learns the implications in real time, he throws temper tantrums in public that are damaging to the country’s ability to govern itself domestically and abroad. I happen to think he’s brought a lot of drama on himself by making the Mueller investigation about himself when ostensibly it’s about Russian interference in the election–especially as he insists that it’s a topic that has nothing to do with him personally. This would not be the clown circus it is if he had kept a tighter reign on his Twitter temper. In fact, he probably would be under a lot less scrutiny overall if he himself hadn’t insisted on making various claims publicly over the years–the size of his fortune, various relationships, and so on.

Donald Trump, and frankly a lot of American electorate, have badly confused politics and entertainment for years now. He’s the public face of this phenomenon and depending on how this scrutiny on him plays out, he may be the most public victim of it…or its first great success. Either way, he doesn’t seem to be enjoying the ride. I have a strange level of sympathy for him on this point alone: I really don’t believe that he really knew what he was getting into when he won; he did not want and is not prepared (or possibly emotional resilient enough) for this level of scrutiny. I guess no one in his life or team prepared him for this reality, and if they tried he clearly didn’t listen. There are no stakes if you’re just playing role, after all, and he’s built his whole public persona on role playing until it all suddenly became very real. I believe reporting which suggests that he was terrified of his first year in office and is now just sort of winging it.

Because I don’t think Mr. Trump ever really wanted to be president. He just wanted to play one on TV.

ETA later this same day, the President tweeted this, once again changing the official version of this story. More intelligent people than me have commented about this but I am baffled by what he chooses to be defensive about under scrutiny and what he chooses to just blurt out to the world. For some reason, probably going back to the idea of shame as a public policing mechanism, our system seems totally unable to hold him accountable to what he admits publicly. If this had leaked or been revealed a la Nixon, it would be a scandal in any other administration. I suspect this confessional style statement will have precisely zero effects. 

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Late night rambles on the C-word

“I’ve been accused of vulgarity. I say that’s bullshit.” 
― Mel Brooks

Samantha Bee used the C word to describe Ivanka Trump this week on her show and, like unto Roseanne Barr, it caused something of a kerfuffle. More in the links post tomorrow.

But in the meantime, and while I have this on the brain, do you know what? I HATE the C word. Hate it. It’s slung around in the UK like loose change in a way I never experienced in the States, and I haven’t gotten used to it in five years. I still feel a full body cringe at its ugliness whenever someone uses it. If TBS chose to reprimand or punish Samantha Bee like ABC chose to do with Roseanne, I wouldn’t like it, but I’d grudgingly admit it’s the network’s prerogative to make that kind of call.

I similarly think it’s the NFL’s right to try and set certain boundaries the speech of its players. I further think that deliberately defying rules is literally the point of a protest so we’re not exactly comparing apples to apples. Nevertheless, the Twitter wars rage.

The difference between a comedian and a president is that one of those people is expected, even encouraged to be vulgar. The other, historically, is expected to set an example to the nation state. One is expected to set standards, the other to push boundaries.vWhich brings me to the broad point I can’t shake.

Anyone who tries to defend the current political administration (the target of the comment in the first place) with the claim that vulgarity (as opposed to racism, for instance) should cost someone their job needs to have an intellectually honest conversation about the dude in the White House and how he got there. He weaponized vulgarity and rode it all the way to Pennsylvania Avenue.

You do not get to cheer a man who kicked off his political life by calling Mexican immigrants rapists, has a history of sexual assault allegations, and been caught on tape bragging about grabbing women by their “pussy,” and then cry foul when an entertainer uses foul language towards one of his administration officals. One side does not get to say that Roseanne Barr’s statements on her twitter feed, filled with antisemitism and conspiracy theories, are jokes and then turn around and say that an unfriendly comedian’s jokes are beyond the pale.

Pick a lane. Either offensive jokes are acceptable more broadly or they are not. If you insist on your side’s right to be offensive, you should in turn be prepared to buckle up and be offended right back.

Here’s the thing. I believe wholeheartedly that the overall coarsening of our culture and public discourse is not a good thing. We’re all worse off for it. But spare me the moral hand wringing if your whole ethos and political strategy is built around “triggering” other people. These are your rules, it’s your game, and you’re in charge. Either toughen up and take what you sling out, or do your best to claw back the moral high ground if you can.

But to say that systemic and historically racist speech and vulgar speech are on par is a false equivalence. Both are bad. Both may incur consequences on the speaker. But one traditionally operates from the vantage point of power which could be interpreted as punching down, while the other is “punching up.” Ugly language may be frowned on but as a society we agree that there are places where it’s appropriate or at least acceptable. Antisemitism on the other hand, is not welcome. Unless you agree that there are “fine people” who believe in it.

Here. Someone smarter than me said it better.

Weekend Links: Over and Over Again

“It’s very dramatic when two people come together to work something out. It’s easy to take a gun and annihilate your opposition, but what is really exciting to me is to see people with differing views come together and finally respect each other.” 
― Fred Rogers

Another successful Infrastructure and Immigration Week for the White House and its policy agenda, gone off without a hitch.

Pardon the dark humor, darlings, it’s just that sometimes it feels as though Everything Is Terrible. Another awful school shooting captured in real time by the children who experienced it, another week of sex and abuse scandals that rocked everything from charities to the White House, another week of an intransigent Congress, another batch of news about what is now being termed “informational warfare” against my country.

I’ve tried to keep some good news and fun links mixed in here, but it’s been a rough week, kittens, and we need to sit with that. Our society suffers from extensive abuse and systems that enable abusers. We have powerful veins of violence running through our core and the people who most represent those veins have been strategically armed. We have money speaking louder than people. We have big problems. And then we need to get off our asses and do something to make things better even if it’s small. This weekend, I’m donating some clothing and home items to a charity I have researched and support, donating to a cause I care about, spending some time keeping my body and our finances healthy, and going to see Black Panther. How about you guys? What are you doing in your own corner to take care of yourself or your patch?

There was another mass shooting this week and at time of writing, 17 victims have died including children. Three out of ten of the most deadly mass school shootings in US history have happened in the last 6 months. This is grotesque, it’s unacceptable, it’s horrific. It’s awful how little I’m convinced that this culture of violence with easy access to military grade killing machines is going to change as a result. The only bright spot has been the ability of the children involved to avoid being used as totems by interested parties and staying in control of their own voices, stories, POV, and narratives. The coming generation gives me much hope.

How much of what you read do you remember?

NYFW is over (London is next!) and Into The Gloss runs down their picks for the best beauty looks. If Tom Ford and co. could kindly run me one of those leather headbands, that would be great.

Swipe left.

Another excellent episode of Drunk History for your delectation.

A perennial topic of interest to me: changing trends in clothing. Front production to sales to consumer habits to start ups, Americans are buying less and that has some wider implications across the industry.

Loved this Black Panther review at NPR, with particular emphasis on how certain heroes are created or achieve resonance due to certain cultural moments.

This is…a hobby…?

It was yet another busy Friday afternoon when the DOJ released an indictment of Russian individuals travelling to the US, setting up VPNs to mask the origin of their content, and then spread derogatory content about some politicians (guess which ones) while promoting others (GUESS WHICH ONES). This dates as far back as 2014 according to what I’ve read, item 6 on page 4 states that some of these operatives communicated with “unwitting” members of the Trump campaign. Of no surprise to me was the information that after the election, the activities turned towards inflaming anti-Trump sentiment in some cases. They had one aim. It’s worked. They tried to divide along religious, racial, and regional lines, and it worked. They did their homework, investigated the weak points of our civil society, and went after those points with precision. This thread sums up my feelings (also, I’m more convinced than ever that Facebook is bad for us). Where we go from here, who we hold responsible, and how we choose to come together across divides is up to us.

Oh Mitt,you suffer from terrible timing. Friday in Trump’s America is not the time to be doing this sort of thing, you will always be upstaged.

I haven’t been following the Olympics this year, but figure skating will save us all.

Here. Have a vid of a dog eating pizza, just because.

Weekend Links

“Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions.” 
― Edward R. Murrow

I had to take a semi-break from news this week, kittens. There’s just too much to process and take in and too much of it is making me angry. What did I do with all those feelings? I channeled them into work and avoided Twitter; it did a lot of good. In spite of hurricanes, missile launches, racists amuk, and all the rest of it.

Here are your links, let me know what you’re doing for the long weekend, kittens! I’ll be doing some work, alas, but also watching the Game of Thrones finale through narrowed eyes (see below for more thoughts), cleaning the house, enjoying a fun brunch thanks to the kindness of a friend, and generally lazing about. I’m really looking forward to it!

It’s summer, let’s learn about seersucker!

I have a lot of thoughts about the current season of Game of Thrones (has time travel been invented in Westeros now? How the hell are people moving thousands of miles in mere minutes?), but of all the subplots I’m not enjoying, the most unenjoyable is how six seasons of character development for Arya and Sansa have been apparently been unraveled because some men seem to struggle writing female strength and growth narratives without turning them into rape victims or un-women. /rant.

Full disclosure, if this plot all turns about to be an elaborate plan to get rid of Littlefinger, I will gleefully eat my words. About the character arch I mean. Not about dudes struggling to write about women. That stands.

Ooh, yes, let’s talk about monstrous female archetypes.

Let’s be real, I am not here for this latest iteration of Taylor Swift. She got caught lying, she’s borrowing from Beyonce. Nope.

Man Repeller summarizes in case you are out of the loop on this one.

Super late to the game but here’s a new to me artist I discovered this week and have been digging.

I cannot wait for this film.

There is one Civil War pensioner still receiving checks!

Sit down, Cameron.

The Fug Girls wrote a hilarious thing about the topic in which they reign unquestionably supreme: royalty.

 

Album of the week: Legacy by The Cadillac Three 

Keeping Up With the K—er, Pop Culture

“In fact, pop-cultural references have become such potent metaphors in U.S. fiction not only because of how united Americans are in our exposure to mass images but also because of our guilty indulgent psychology with respect to that exposure. Put simply, the pop reference works so well in contemporary fiction because (1) we all recognize such a reference, and (2) we’re all a little uneasy about how we all recognize such a reference.” 
― David Foster Wallace

Kittens, leaving aside news for a moment, there is too much pop culture at the moment and it can be bizarrely anxiety-inducing. At the moment I’m catching up on The Handmaid’s Tale and American Gods, I have three audiobooks and a two week backlog of podcasts on my phone, and have five books checked out from the library. I’m following along the new season of Game of Thrones, and eagerly anticipating a bunch of films and new Netflix series. It’s a lot to keep up with.

A few weeks ago I found myself in a familiar situation: I had reached my limit on both checkouts and holds from my library and was nearing the end of my check out period on several books. I read fast and normally have at least two books going at any one time, but this time I was behind on my reading and I actually felt stressed at the prospect of not finishing books before I had to return them. Not only that, I had been on a waiting list for many of these books for weeks and if I didn’t finish them now, I’d have to wait weeks again before I could get my hands on them. Consequently, stress. Stupid stress, yes, but stress nonetheless.

Too much screen time, not enough walks!

I’m a finisher, almost constitutionally incapable of leaving a book, TV show, or movie only partially consumed. This doesn’t always serve me well as it means that I’ve struggled through pop culture that I have rushed too much to enjoy, wasn’t quite to my taste, and even downright hated all with the aim of just finishing it. For example, Jeff made me watch Twin Peaks with him, a show that I completely missed in its original run and knew only through casual references. Sacrilegious as it may be to say for some, I didn’t like it at all. It simply wasn’t for me. And yet, almost every night for a couple of months, I grudgingly insisted that we sit down and watch an episode just so I could say I had finished the damn thing.

This is, of course, ridiculous. Nevertheless, to solve my book backlog, I signed out of most social media and didn’t log in to Netflix or YouTube for a week so I could finish five books back to back, which made me feel quite cultured and au courant…until I noticed I’d nearly reached my storage limit on my phone because I had not kept up with my podcast feed.

Help!

I hear and read everywhere that we are living in a moment of “peak TV,” but you could also insert any other media platform into that statement quite comfortably. This weekend alone several trailers for upcoming films or TV shows that I’m genuinely excited about dropped. We are downright spoiled for choice when it comes to entertainment. Not only that, new technology and disruptive new platforms means that we have an almost constant stream of new ways to consume media, as well as very often whole new types of media itself.

Part of me thinks this is fantastic as there is so much stuff out there, you are bound to find a program, book, show, podcast, vlog, or feed that seems tailor made to cater to your personal interests and likes. On the other hand, it’s very easy want to consume everything and feel disappointed or frustrated when you can’t. It’s also not nice to feel like you’re out of the loop when friends or people you enjoy talking all things media with are in the know about something you’ve never heard of. The positive upside to this moment of peak pop culture, though, may be the fact that there is so much out there that it is impossible to even attempt to consume everything. Meaning that consumers can find what they actually like and disregard what they don’t.

This is the tack I have taken at least. I’ve given myself permission to not finish books I don’t like, drop shows that don’t appeal to me, and just tap out of pop culture I don’t care about. It’s such a dinky thing, but it’s been weirdly liberating to “give up” on media rather than slog through it or race to catch up with the rest of society.

Is there any pop culture out there that you genuinely love? What about something that you’ve given a total miss because you just aren’t interested? Have you ever felt guilty for not being able to keep up, or is this a weirdly C-specific problem?

2017 Oscars Gown Rundown

I’ll tell you this about the Oscars – they’re real.
– William H. Macy

Gather round, ducklings, it’s time to fight in the comments! That blessed time of year has arrived again, the annual Oscars Gown Rundown on SDS, where we admire beautiful things and people…and occasionally throw some shade at questionable fashion choices.

I’m not going to lie, this didn’t feel like an awards show where the fashion was for the ages. There were some beautiful pieces and looks but it was fairly tame overall. The real drama this year lay elsewhere.

First and foremost, I am pleasantly delighted and shocked at Moonlight’s upset win over long declared favorite La La Land. The disorganized mess of having to apologize for announcing the wrong film and then get the correct team and people on stage to take their bow was cringe-worthy. But the fact that a small but powerful film about race, sexuality, poverty, and masculinity upset yet another film where Hollywood is fairly self congratulatory and referential is a win, as far as I’m concerned.

Other major stories were Mahershala Ali’s win for Best Supporting Actor, which I believe is the first win for an American Muslim actor of any kind, and Viola Davis being the first woman of color to win an Emmy, Tony and Oscar award. Asghar Farhadi was not present to accept his award due to the politics of the travel ban, and lots of people were sporting pins or other supporting design elements for the ACLU and other organizations. While the fashion might not have been speaking as loudly, plenty of statements were being made.

The Good

 photo Viola Davis Armani Prive_zpsflio3viy.jpg
Viola Davis looked flawless and her speech was powerful–no surprise there whatsoever. Her Armani Prive gown was a stunner and perfectly executed. One design detail more and this would have looked messy, but the single design note of an unusual neckline married to a powerhouse red, and the results just sing.

 

 photo Brie Larson Oscar de la Renta_zpsz5uyrt0z.jpg
I will always fall for a deceptively simple looking gown and Brie Larsen’s Oscar de la Renta nailed that criteria. A cross between’s Sargent’s Portrait of Madame X and a flamenco dancer, loved it. I would have liked a different hair/accessories look, however.

 

 photo Michelle Williams Louis Vuitton_zpsua00jpck.jpg
Michelle Williams has stuck to a rather precious and twee look for years now. Sometimes it works in her favor, sometimes it doesn’t. This Louis Vuitton is an example of the former. Another deceptively simple frock with some exquisite details.

 

 photo Mahershala Ali Ermenegildo Zegna_zps1usoooqv.jpg
No, this is not a gown. It remains a “best dressed” contender regardless. Men’s fashion is often wildly overlooked when done well, and is more often bypassed entirely by male actors who phone it in for events or photoshoots while their female counterparts spend hours preparing thousands of dollars worth of couture and accessories to just show up in public. Mahershala Ali did not phone it in, his Ermenegildo Zenga suit is perfectly tailored and (though you can’t see it well in this shot), his suit contains a subtle pattern that is a delightful change from the typical tux. He is also, let’s face, extremely easy on the eyes.

 

 photo Taraji P Henson Alberta Feretti_zpsvsez0xsr.jpg
Speaking of not phoning it in! Taraji P. Henson decided she was going to armor up in the the most fierce af getup she could find, and that’s exactly what she did. Another relatively simple gown by Alberta Feretti paired with major jewels and even more major attitude.

 

 photo Sunny Pawar_zpskzzy4qhq.jpg
Okay, I can admit that Sunny Pawar is here most because he’s adorable. I also admit he could have used a better hem job but I fell hard for his amazing shoes and stay fallen. I’m a big proponent of child actors dressing age appropriately on the red carpet and when I see it, I signal boost!

 

The Middling

 photo Alcian Vikander Louis Vuitton_zpsq8r5hntx.jpg
This look proves that the devil really is in the details. Alicia Vikander in Louis Vuitton looks very similar to Brie Larsen in several key elements, but I found this look fussy and overly complicated in a way that didn’t suit its (obscenely gorgeous) wearer. It looks like a ballet costume rather than an Oscars gown.

 

 photo Scarlett Johansson Alaia_zpskqlcbskv.jpg
I love prints on the Oscars red carpet and they are not often deployed, unfortunately. But Scarlett Johansson in Alaia shows why that may be the case. Her hair, makeup, and jewels are stunning but her outfit looks…tacky. The fabric looks cheap, I don’t think that the belt suits the look, and the blouson bust area isn’t doing her spectacular figure any favors.

 

 photo Charlize Theron Dior_zpswc9bcski.jpg
Sigh. We can set our clocks by it at this point. Charlize Theron is a Dior ambassador and faithfully wears them each year, and each year in recent memory, her bustline has been assaulted in some way by the design. Like unto Scarlett Johansson, the blouson cut is really taking away from this look for me. A bit more fitted and this dress would have been the perfect vehicle to carry off those stunning jewels.

 

 photo Felicity Jones Dior_zpsmkp94wxj.jpg
Felicity Jones is absurdly pretty in that English Rose kind of way, but this Dior seemed very twee for such an event as the Oscars. On a younger, perhaps teenage actress this would have been lovely, but it underwhelms for an event that is supposed to be a fashion highlight of the year. Her hair is also very low key which contributes to the underwhelm of this overall look for me.

 

The Bad

 photo Dakota Johnson Gucci_zpsvrrtbk32.jpg
No! No, Dakota Johnson! Whichever of your team members voted for this Gucci gown must be shown the door immediately. The color is not particularly great, but add to it the incredibly basic hair, next to no make up, and top it off with the fact that no one seems to have remembered to steam your dress properly and you have been Let Down.

 

 photo Jessica Biel Kaufman Franco_zps7xcnitwv.jpg
I wanted to like this Kaufman Franco dress on Jessical Biel, I really did. It looks like a drag gown, and I mean that in the best possible way! But I feel she was badly let down by the styling of the look, her makeup looks harsh and her hair color and style a bit severe when paired with a bold but tailored gown. Normally I like looks to be balanced between drama and restraint, but the restraint here overpowered the drama.

 

 photo Hailee Steinfield Ralph and Russo_zpsf8frr9ka.jpg
Hailee Steinfield is beautiful, but this Ralph and Russo frock is bad. Fussy, messy, colorless, and looking like bedsheets.

 photo Ava Duvernay_zpsi04kfwax.jpg
There was a “buttoned up” micro trend to several looks this year, which is not a bad thing. Done well, severe or even religiously overtoned looks can pack a punch. But this gown on Ava Duverny looks heavy and awkward when she could have looked armored and dangerous.

The I Literally Can’t Make Up My Mind

 photo Ruth Negga Oscar de la Renta_zpsyujb30zx.jpg
A lot of people are falling over themselves to praise Ruth Negga in this Oscar de la Renta but I find myself torn. In some images this looks dramatic and beautiful, in others it looks odd and dare I say a bit frumpy. I have nothing but love for her selection of jewels (bring back tiaras, I say) and I love her makeup look independently from the gown, but I find them a bit oddly matched together. The darker garnet shades of her jewelry and smokey eyes don’t seem to match the better aspects of a floaty, peasant-y frock. Help me make up my mind, kittens!

 

 photo Janelle Monae Elie Saab_zps2rm5iykc.jpg
Janelle Monae has developed a red carpet persona that she rarely deviates from: black and white and drama all over. This Elie Saab is certainly dramatic! A cross between 18th century, Elizabethean, and fetishwear, I should be all over this, but it’s not coming wholly together for me. I think that having both a sheer top and sheer paneled inner skirt made the look veer more towards tacky while all of the embellishments seem to compete. I’d have loved this look more if the skirt had stuck with either the layers of beaded black tulle, or committed solely to the layered white motifs. Both are too much.

 

Best Dressed

 photo Emma Stone_zpsiwdtgp70.jpg
Emma Stone’s Givenchy dress was the runaway red carpet star for me. The subtle gold tones were varied enough to keep from being flat, while the detailing did the heavy lifting. From the Old Hollywood hair (which I’m always a sucker for) to the simple yet stunning beauty look (apparently by Nars cosmetics), she clearly came ready to walk away with her Oscar. A gorgeous look!

Weekend Links

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”
― Oscar Wilde

Woof. I compile these posts throughout the week, updating it to make sure that news links are as current as they can be, and that notes of levity and enjoyment are liberally scattered throughout. I know things have gotten a bit heavy around here lately and I had every intention of a links post thick with Fashion Week highlights and apolitical links to lighten things up. I’ve got those too, but it’s also been a big week for news, which led me towards doing separate post on the big story.

Thus far I still haven’t put words together to speak intelligently about the presidential press conference–apt, since neither did the president in many ways. To date, he’s sowed the seeds to blame one branch of government if something terrible should happen (if committed by a Muslim of course, white people shooting up mosques seems to be fine), a second branch of government seems to be in some kind of grim Faustian pact to go along with him as long as he signs their legislation, and he’s on a tear of a campaign to delegitmize the fourth estate who scrutinizes his actions. So things are going great, guys!

To make up for the emotional roller coaster that is Western democracy at the moment, here is an extra large dose of links for you, kittens. Never say I don’t do anything for you!

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This piece by Andrew Sullivan for New York Magazine is important reading and discusses the unfortunate fact that we have a president who seems to throw out countless lies and mistruths weekly–usually in the face of empirical evidence–and thus far does not seem to have retracted or apologized for any of them. He is not being held accountable in any way. He also gave an interview to CNN that’s worth viewing. When, “No error is ever admitted. Any lie is usually doubled down by another lie — along with an ad hominem attack,” what is at stake for government and the citizenry? His position, somewhat daringly, is that the president is outright mentally unstable, which is the source of a decent amount of debate-including whether or not it’s even appropriate for people to speculate on the matter. This letter, for instance is a nice and effective rebuke. To the comments, kittens, and lend me your thoughts.

After all the hullabaloo about privacy and securing information on Secretary Clinton’s part, this is just ridiculous.

Well, now we’re totally safe… To be clear, there are plenty of images of past “football” carriers. But none that I’m aware of that have posed for pictures.

This is a pretty good breakdown of the legal quagmire that is the executive order on immigration as it stands at time of writing. (Things may change. As should be abundantly obvious by now.)

For heaven’s sake, we must avoid hurting his feelings!

This twitter feed is hilarious and heartbreaking. It envisions an alternate reality where Secretary Clinton won, the news is not wholly ridiculous, and First Gentleman Bill is sent on a lot of errands.

History and the rise (and fall?) of facts.

This woman makes my Money Month project look like amateur night at the roadhouse.

I loved this piece at The Everygirl about Beyonce and Adele at the Grammy’s last weekend, which speaks bluntly about black artists losing to white ones consistently and how what could have been a twitter war between the stans was prevented by the genuine positivity of women loving and supporting other women.

NPR has a deeper read into race and the Grammys that’s well worth a look in.

It took less than a month for a scandal to bring down a major player in the administration which, while in line with my predictions, does not bode well. All I will say is that given the layers to the Gen. Flynn story (most notably the fact that now-former Acting Attorney General Yates apparently alerted the White House to the potential threats and was fired only days later due to her stance on the immigration ban, and the fact that timelines being put forward by various staff simply isn’t matching at time of writing), I expect the press, government officials, and voting public to give at least as much scrutiny and attention to claims of foreign interference in our government as they did to Secretary Clinton’s emails.

Pantsuits on women was a major trend this NYFW. Cannot imagine why.

After all the shouting and bluster about security privacy and Secretary Clinton’s emails, to see national security policy play out as dinner theatre is completely beyond the pale.

How are our feelings about death, lately?

This is a thing?! My theory of dating (granted I’ve been out of the game for a decade) was that s/he who asks, pays. Full stop. Have the rules changed that much?

A piece from the New York Times about the rise and fall of celebrities at fashion week shows.

This interview with Kelly Cutrone on the state of the fashion industry is also a great read.

Gorgeous photos of a movement that I, for one, need to know more about.

NOPE. Also, if I’m a “host,” does that make any potential fetus a parasite? Careful what words you choose, people.

Into the Gloss tracked some of the best beauty looks from NYFW. I didn’t know I needed neon eye shadow, but suddenly I do. Intensely.

One of my “ones that got away” in terms of vintage or second hand buys is a leopard print coat that I to this day deeply regret not snatching up. Jenna Lyons is not helping my nostalgia.

All things considered this week, this news seems super not great.

The story of the assassination of North Korean dictator’s Kim Jong-un’s half brother gets more bizarre every day.

This post by the great and good Caroline Hirons is a nice catch up to some of the latest beauty launches, but her final paragraphs on blogging and having an opinion really caught my eye.

Here’s a nice, completely apolitical tale of humans being nice.

Album of the week: Life Will See You Now, by Jens Lekman