Society & Culture

Roman Polanski’s Contraceptive Comments Court Controversy at Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival, a scene of glitz and glamour.  Another place for the stars to shine, and also a place for some of the less mainstream, outside of Hollywood, films to maybe do the same. Amongst those was director Roman Polanski, there to premiere his latest film, Venus in Fur.  The film stars Polanski’s wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, and Mathieu Amalric.  Adapted from the play by David Ives, it tells the story of an actress and theatre director rehearsing Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 novella Venus in Furs.  Examining the roles of gender, as the actress overshadows the director. Not that Roman Polanski is any stranger to controversy, his 1979 conviction of having sex with a minor, saw him flee the United States to avoid further legal issues.  (Maybe playing out vaguely somewhat like Lolita.)  Polanski has again courted controversy with his comments at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. Whether ...

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Chinese Coke Ad Sexist?

Coca-Cola.  The soft drink.  Coke.  It just got a little harder. Now, make it a bit more difficult to open, because the lids of some bottles have been screwed on extra tight. The concept behind the ad for Coke in the Chinese market is relatively simple.  If you can’t open the Coke bottle with a tighter cap, you can ask someone for help. It seems harmless enough. The tight-capped bottles are a ploy.  Who knows, maybe it actually will help a little with matchmaking in China?  There are cultural differences after all between different countries. Although some, such as at Jezebel, have already been quite quick to label Coke’s IceBreaker ad as sexist.  Portraying women as weak and in need of a man with strong hands to help them open a bottle of Coca-Cola. Following such interpretations and logic, then maybe things will be placed on high shelves to help short people meet taller people.  Dumb ...

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To Beard, or Not to Beard?

That is the Manly Question Based on male and female judgements of photographs of men who were clean-shaven, lightly or heavily stubbled and fully bearded, a recent study by Dixson and Brooks (2013) about men’s facial hair and their perceived socio-sexual attributes of attractiveness, health, masculinity and parenting abilities was conducted. It found that both male and females rated heavy stubble as the most attractive; whereas a full beard was rated highest in perceptions of parenting ability and healthiness, again by both males and females. So there you have it. Men, grow at least some heavy stubble, or invest in a beard.  You’ll be seen as more attractive and masculine.  (It may not actually make you more manly though, just people’s perceptions of this.)  Then you’ve maybe got a chance with Mila Kunis, who was named by FHM the World’s Sexiest Woman in 2013. Is it Really that Simple? In psychological ...

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Commuters Ignore Naked Woman

The Swiss artist Milo Moiré as part of a project called “The Script System” had a naked model catch public transport in peak hour in Dusseldorf, Germany.  The model had words of clothing items written in English on her otherwise naked body.  (Although she did wear shoes, glasses, and carried a handbag.  Either the bare essentials or the perfect accessories to go with a birthday suit.)  Of course all of this was filmed (the full video in all its glory can be watched on Milo’s website). It was supposed to be a way of “shaking up the ordinary,” said Moiré. Despite all of this, no such thing happened.  Commuters generally ignored the model, or maybe at best gave a momentary and awkward pause.  Whilst the words written on the model’s body and having people filming her likely suggested it was a performance piece of some sort (and arguably people can get away ...

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May the 4th Be With You in 2013

A time about now in a world on the 4th, 4th May… Scrolling Star Wars text starts here.  Sure John Williamson will do the musical score for it. Star Wars, it’s the cultural phenomenon that has launched such things as: Moves to make Jedi an official religion in censuses worldwide The metal bikini, as comfortable as it is sexy. Generations of folks that have tried to use the Force to do everything from opening their doors in the morning to choking someone with a closing hand gesture from afar. It hasn’t all been good though.  There is a dark side to it.  Beyond Caravan of Courage (it wasn’t ‘that’ bad), beyond the whole confusion with the introduction of midi-chlorians (as if mitochondria weren’t already confusing enough), and even beyond Jar Jar Binks, there have been some clangers along the way. Including plot holes big enough to fly the Millennium Falcon though.  If the Rebels blew up ...

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420 and Social Proofs

420 and the Culture of Marijuana The 20th April is a meaningful date to many. Of course given the history of the world, it won’t take much to pull out something apparently significant, purely by chance, and link it to such a date.  For example, Adolf Hitler was born on 20th April, 1889.  Delving into confirmation biases and relatively prime numbers for mistaken numerology, is a topic for another time. Rather the 20th April here, will first be morphed into April 20, then converted into 420, and maybe 4/20 if need be.  And yes, guilty of using numerology as charged.  Although the whole idea of the 420 here is linked to not being charged. At 4:20pm on 4/20, stoners across North America, meaning the US and Canada, lit up their joints to advocate for the legalisation of marijuana.  Presumably with smoking this weed, some did actually inhale as well. The origins of 420 are ...

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Fish for Friday

If you live in a part of the world that follows an essentially Christian custom, then there are two days in the year that have special significance.  These being Christmas Day and Good Friday.  If nothing else, from a secular perspective, this has translated into these two days continuing to be maintained as public holidays.  For Good Friday especially, no other day in the calendar is presented as quite so sacrosanct. On this day, many people even if not strictly Christian, will tend to observe the custom of eating fish (or seafood) and avoiding other meats. An explanation offered is usually something suitably vague, to the effect of: “We don’t eat red meat on Good Friday because that would be eating Jesus.” Best to ignore what happens on other days then.  Or churchgoing Sundays with bread and red wine. From this, how many have truly questioned the reason for the Good Friday custom?  The vague adage ...

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Towering Feng Shui

It guides building design in Hong Kong.  Recently it was used in the design of the Australia 108 skyscraper to be built in Melbourne, Australia. It’s called feng shui.  (If you’ve never heard of it before, enjoy being surprised by the correct phonetics!) An ancient Chinese tradition, often linked with Taoism, it serves as a guide to the orientation of buildings both internally and externally.  To maximise auspiciousness, and the flow of qi.  It is a combination of geomancy and Chinese astronomy, the traditional five elements (wu xing) and the concept of yin-yang. With the Australia 108 to be tallest building in the southern hemisphere, there’s a lot riding on its completion. Even the chosen number, 108 storeys, was to maximise feng shui compliance and appeal.  (The number 8 is considered lucky.) Yet was all of this clever marketing by property developers and architects to attract rich Chinese investors? Some dismiss feng shui as superstition.  ...

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Same-Sex Marriage: Discrimination and Inconsistencies

That there are inconsistencies with discrimination is likely little surprise.  The nature of discrimination is to differentiate and discern differences.  That anti-discrimination can also be so inconsistent or contradictory, however, warrants further thought. The issue of same-sex marriage, or gay marriage to use another term, is something which continues to strike discord amongst many. There are those for it.  Often gay couples, annoyed and dismayed by the fact that two consenting adults whom love one another are all too often unable to be married.  Apart from an expression of love and commitment, marriage has various legal and financial ramifications conveyed to a spouse but not necessarily to a de facto partner. There are those against it.  Often drawing a line in the sand on religious grounds, that a marriage must be between a man and a woman.  That somehow, allowing same-sex marriage supposedly degrades the institution of marriage and may pave the way ...

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