Eat Pray Love Backlash: Why is a woman stuffing herself with pasta considered controversial?

The movie starring Julia Roberts is only hitting Singapore in October, but the reviews from the US are out.

Much have been made about how the book and movie are “priv-lit” – where only a woman of certain economic stature can afford to go around the world to find herself. Definitely true

More have also been said about how this movie is going to ruin Ubud, India and Naples as truckloads of Elizabeth Gilbert-wannabes do a copycat move. I absolutely agree.

But what really got me worked up enough to blog about this discussed-to-death topic was director Ryan Murphy’s comments about the scene where Julia Robert’ gobbles down a whole bowl of pasta. He says in a press conference reported here, “I think that’s the most controversial scene in the movie … A woman joyfully and unabashedly eating pasta—it’s kind of revolutionary.”

Why?

Just because it’s carbs? Because women have been deigned not to savour food? Because we have a love-hate relationship with what we eat?  Or because there is so much stigma attached to a woman eating joyfully and unabashedly till her guts burst and letting her waistline show for it.

There’s been lots of talk and discussion of how magazines/ media portray women and how it feeds into a negative body image for females out there. It’s  true and it’s hard to resist. Even as someone making a living writing for women, and knowing  the anount of work done – in tems of poses, in terms of digital imaging and lighting, in terms of clothes – to make a model or talent look the way she does on the pages, I still get bummed when I see models / celebs waltzing into office.

I fully agree that women magazines, and media in general have to take some responsibility in what they’re showing and offer a more balanced point of view in respecting body image. That is why I’m annoyed reading the editor’s note of US Elle July Issue this weekend where Roberta Myer insisted that good-looking, thin people people will still be desired even if magazines don’t promote them. A good retort to that has been written by one of my fave bloggers at Glossed Over.

So it’s sad that a director of Ryan Murphy’s calibre and sensitivity (as seen in his smart TV hit Glee) would even consider that a woman eating pasta is both “most controversial” and “revolutionary”. It’s just friggin pasta. It’s a basic right to enjoy it as a human being. There should be nothing remotely groundbreaking about indulging in something as necessary and pleasurable as food.

August 15, 2010. Movies, Popchow. Leave a comment.

Final thoughts on Grey’s Anatomy and Gossip Girl Finales

It’s an addiction. Not a very major one – just one that stirs me up on Saturday mornings and keeps me awakes past midnight on weekday nights.

TV.

I’m an American TV junkie. It started with Hanna & Barbera cartoons, then came Beverly Hills 90210, before I discovered sitcoms like Seinfeld, Friends, Ellen. I moaned the demise of shows that enjoyed a limited run in Singapore that none of my friends heard of – Popular, Grosse Pointe. Huh?! My point exactly. And Buffy was the centre of my life for a good while. Its theme song was the only ring tone which I dutifully learnt to compose myself from a score on the Web when handphones tunes weren’t downloadable in those days.

 Now that I’m older, my taste has remained firmly teeny-booper-ish (Hello Seth Cohen and Rachel Berry!) although I’m happy to say I also enjoy Dexter and 30 Rock.

Two of my current favourites have aired their finales last week and I just finished watching them yesterday. Gossip Girl and Grey’s Anatomy were disappointing and uneven this season. Especially Grey’s which has been spluttering along so painfully since season 3.

 Still, I watch. I persist. I hope. I read Internet spoilers and comments like they’re my crack.

While I don’t want to give the plots away cos there’s one friend who will yell at me for doing so, all I can say is, well, it’s enough keep going back. (Anyway if you want to discuss this, lemme know!!  How OMG was it! Oops.)

TV. What will I be without you?

Probably a hell lot more productive and successful.

May 25, 2010. TV. Leave a comment.

Pop chow: The pop tart eats Spruce Taqueria

My American pal laments that it’s hard to find good, affordable Mexican food here. As much as I enjoy Margarita’s (only the East Coast Road branch), I totally agree. Something about Mexican food just doesn’t attract Singaporeans.  I wonder why. Frijoles Negros is really kinda similar to the black beans we have in Chinese food!

When buzz started building about Spruce Taqueria, my friends and I were pretty excited to try. Spruce restaurant at Phoenix Park has already gathered a following for its brunch and chef Travis Masiero’s fuss-free cooking since it opened last year.  As Spruce Taqueria only opens weekends 12pm to 3pm, I gathered my work pals and hopped into a cab during lunch cos boy, do WE WANT TACOS!

We were disappointed. While the gaucamole was creamy and punchy, and fillings of pork carnitas, short ribs and snapper were flavourful and delish, there accompanying tortillas were neither soft nor fluffy. Try tough and rubbery. My friends and I gave up tearing through the skin, and ate the fillings on their own instead.

Service was also sadly lacking. My friend inquired if the short ribs were pork or beef just to be sure. The cashier said pork and I thought, huh? So I asked again and she insisted it was pork.  It was beef. What if a Buddhist or Hindu had ordered it?!

We informed her about the mistake. She was still blurring away and finally checked with the cook.  They changed the dish to pork carnitas after that, but the serving size was significantly smaller. It reeked a little of a “smelly” attitude. FAIL, guys.

I guess I might go down to Spruce Taqueria again despite this big misstep. If only to try the quesadillas the next time. Would most people give a restaurant a second chance after a bad experience? But in food crazy, competitive Singapore, there’s always something  else around the corner. Spruce, maybe some sprucing up will be nice.

May 21, 2010. Popchow. Leave a comment.

Popchow: Ferran Adria doesn’t think he’s the best chef in the world

Quick post: The gastronomic force that is Ferran Adria blew into Singapore this week for the World Gourmet Summit.

He needs little introduction because in short, he revolutionised the culinary world.

While I didn’t have the chance to get an interview with him (DAMN!), it was an inspiring 45 minutes just to hear him speak about his work and philosophy. The man is incredibly intelligent, keen and genuinely interested in what you have to say, and disarmingly humble too. For one, he doesn’t like being called “The best chef in the world”.

“How can you measure what’s best?” he countered instead. “I understand influential. I don’t understand best.” He went on to explain that in 20 years time, nobody can say who were among the best chefs ever. What remains is a chef’s influence.

I think my life’s enriched and made poorer after breathing the same air as a great.

April 23, 2010. In and around Singapore, Popchow. Leave a comment.

HP wants you to pretend to have the Sex and The City life

Two days ago, I received a mailer from HP about a Sex and the City contest they’re running. Essentially they want you to be Carrie and Co.

Upload and show where you eat, drink, shop, party, hang out, pose, and write an entry about why you’ve selected these places for “an insider guide to the most chic places in Singapore.” The contest is running across Asia Pacific and the most creative entries will stand a win a trip to NYC and a screening party. Fab prizes no doubt.

The entries can be seen on http://h30476.www3.hp.com/video and from what’s been uploaded so far, they’re kinda meh. I can’t speak for the other cities but at least three Singaporean entries mentioned New Asia/Equinox at Swissotel Stamford for a bird’s eye view of the city from one of Asia’s tallest hotel. Umm, imagination people.

Since when does hanging out with your girlfriends become a “Me and My City” experience that harks back to the whole Sex and the City lifestyle? Why does it have to exude a certain “coolness” or “glitzyness”? I get that it’s a pretty fun contest to shill for HP , but the association that a bunch of girlfriends having fun is being ‘Carried out ‘ to death makes me want to puke.

I used to love Sex and the City the series. I still watch it on DVDs and HBO. But it’s the movies I can’t stand with its blatant advertisement and brand tie-ups.  It’s a friggin advertorial. And now they’ve changed the charactersand their personalities to fit the companies pumping money into movie. As pointed out by many pop culture watchers, Carrie Bradshaw is a Mac girl. She does not get Windows.  It was tellingly obvious that she hated a Windows operating system/computer because in season 4 when her Mac went kaput and her ex boyfriend Aidan bought her a Windows computer, she flipped out. Plus it was a symbol that Aidan and her weren’t meant to be. This entire back story is now swept away cos HP decides to be a part of the movie.

Brands should really get cleverer about how they want to tie up with a movie. Sure economics dictate that without big money, great movies may not get made. Case in point: Up In The Air where hotel chain Hilton featured prominently and added to the movie budget. But  it was nicely incorporated into the movie in such a way that it makes sense plot-wise.

Brand people, go watch 30 “Can we have our money now?” Rock for some inspiration.

April 22, 2010. In and around Singapore, Movies. Leave a comment.

Kick Ass Kicks Ass!

Evil guy: “Playtime’s over kid”

Hit Girl: “I never play”

I love the movie. I love the gore. I love the fact a man was microwaved to a blood-splattering death. I especially love Hit Girl. And how she decimates everyone by chopping their legs, blowing their brains out, stabbing them in the back, in front, everwhere really, and terrifying the shit out of a-holes. I love that she does that with utter relish to the music of  ‘Banana Splits’ and ‘Bad Reputation’.

She’s my new hero. That doesn’t mean I want to go around spatting the c-word and kniving everyone I meet.  (Although I kinda wish I could scare some idiots by waving a dagger in front of their heavily comesticated faces)

Yes, the politics of Hit Girl have been discussed to death with many insightful commentaries and objections.

But: she’s a comic character. She’s not real.  The movie is a satire. It isn’t meant for kids. Nobody gives a shit about male comic heroes mass murdering their way through a movie. I think it’s time for girls, even inappropriate little ones, to get in on the imaginary fun.

April 20, 2010. Movies. Leave a comment.

If parents are prepared to be their kids’ bitches, then shut up about it!

I am at a hawker centre getting my lunch and getting incensed in the process. First this lady quickened her steps to snatch a place in the queue ahead of me. Fair enough. You want to be an annoying pest, be my guest.

Then she kept turning back and gesturing to her daughters about what they wanted to order. She did this at least 3 times! Being like, 15-year-olds, they changed their minds repeatedly. Mind you, the whole time she kept talking over me. It was so pissing. I was this close to asking her to hurry up as she stalled up the queue for a good ten minutes. Later she apologised to another middle aged lady BEHIND me about it. Hellos, does a young, non-parent not count as a human being?! Are you trying to seek some kind of understanding about your bratty kids?!

So her seven plates of wonton noodles were ready and she berated loudly to the same old lady that none of her kids were there to help her carry the plates back, that her kids only knew how be served.

C’mon woman. You are the one who is queuing for your children. Dutifully taking their every order. Changing it whenever their whims decide otherwise. Being a general nuisance to the rest of the world because of your kids when they are more than old enough to get their own food. And now you want sympathy for being at their beck and call! How deluded are you? If anything, such parents have it coming.

Kill me before I become an indulgent, irritating, inane middle aged woman.

April 18, 2010. In and around Singapore. Leave a comment.

Dateless for Date Night

I love Michael Scott and Liz Lemon. In fact, I always thought these two weirdos should get together and do a crossover of some sorts on NBC.

So yay Tina Fey. Whoppee Steve Carrell. Two of my favourite comedic acts on TV teaming up for a movie! You can imagine how super excited I was to watch Date Night.

As luck would have it, my date was stuck at work and I was left with the horrendous prospects of watching Date Night alone. Dateless. Solo. By Myself. Ok, I know, I know, what’s the big deal? It’s not like you can talk in the cinema. Just sit your ass down and watch the show right? I have watched movies alone – for work. But for this movie, I would do the unthinkable. This was how much I wanted to see it. Dammit.

Steve Carrell and Tina Fey were perfect. They were hilarious, natural and completely at ease with each other. The chemistry was great, (which affirms my belief that they should be paired up on TV – NBC, are you listening?). True, the plot was kinda lame and corny. A typical case of mistaken identity that sparks off a mapcap chase . But you don’t even really notice it because you’re too busy watching the two banter and sizzle.  Yessir, they did sizzle. They were kinda sexy – and very funny –  in the dance scene.  Two words lest I give it away: Robot sex.

The supporting cast was cool as well: Leighton Meester, Mila Kunis, Mark Wahlberg, Kirsten Wigg … and James (my love!) Franco dead on as a bum gangster.

You know what, this date went absolutely great.

April 7, 2010. Movies. Leave a comment.

Fuck, Chuck or Marry

After a crazy, horrible month of toil, it’s been a super weekend of meeting up with friends. And yesterday’s gathering was with a bunch of fun, like-minded, utterly pop-culturally savvy group of pals.

We started off dissecting weird acquaintances we know, and, J, who loves the game Fuck, Chuck or Marry started grossing us out by making us choose between them! Eeeus.

Naturally the topic turned to inane  celebs and the disgusting ones who had been hogging the headlines these  few months.

Fuck, chuck or marry these following low-lives!!

There was an onslaught of vitriolic comments, seriously screwed up explanations, and plain old common sense we were offering for our choices ranging from “He’s a walking STD”, “he looks like he would be grateful and keep silent!”    “he’s how rich, of course we’d marry him!” Part of the fun is you simply couldnt say, “I’d rather die!”

It’s amazing how one bad combination could lead to another like: Jack Neo, Henry Thia or ganster Ah Nan!

Then came those like Yoda, Chewbacca or Jar Jar Blinks! (Ha! it was surreal and weird trying to explain why you’d rather hump Yoda!)

But some of the hardest choices were actually the best ones, say Zac Efron, Justin Timberlake or Robert Pattinson.

Now that took a while!

March 28, 2010. Celebrities, In and around Singapore. Leave a comment.

Disney Princesses bad for kiddie health

Caught this funny video on NY Mag website and recalled something something pretty disturbing:

When my five year old niece was planning her birthday, she wanted, no, demanded, Disney Princess EVERYTHING. From her paper plates to her cake, to her friggin’ party favours (yes, they have party favours for kiddie birthdays too), they’re all emblazed with the frighteningly white teeth and fake smiley miens of the five  ubiquitous Disney Princess — Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty, Little Mermaid and Aladdin’s Jasmine.

She knows all their names, including Sleeping Beauty’s real name. That’s Aurora, FYI. She pastes their stickers everywhere. She loves them with all her being. And Her mother calls her Princess. No judgement there, but do you hear mums or dads calling their sons Prince? Michael Jackson so does not count.

This five-year-old is not the only one. She’s just one of the millions who’s fallen prey to that whole beautiful, magical image. Fairy tales are lovely to believe in.  Some of these Disney princesses are rather independent and capable in their own ways such as Belle from Beauty and the Beast. What I can’t stand is the whole marketing machine behind them.

Why do you need a million lunch boxes and dresses and dolls promoting the whole Disney Princess ideal? Disney Princesses make Malibu Barlie look like Germaine Greer, for goodness sake.

According to a Telegraph article, “there are now more than 25,000 Disney Princess items. ‘Princess’, as Disney executives call it, is not only the fastest-growing brand the company has ever created; they say it is on its way to becoming the largest girls’ franchise on the planet.”

I’m not saying that kiddie girls won’t ever grow out of their love affair with the Disney Princesses. But, surely there are more role modes for little girls to adore and identify with than Disney Princesses. How about Dora The Explorer or Neil Gaiman’s Coraline?

It’s a sad day when little girls grow up believing that pumpkins will turn into carriages.

March 7, 2010. Movies. Leave a comment.

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