#Problematic: Cinderella’s Liquid Diet, Sheryl Sandberg’s #LeanInTogether & Kelly Clarkson’s Comeback

Happy first Saturday of women’s history month, readers. I hope it finds you flush with enough gender equality memes to make your conservative second cousin unfollow you on Instagram. In other news, as I write this the ice is currently thawing off of my car into a puddle, which will likely freeze overnight, creating a small ice rink for me to fall on when I finally snap tomorrow and try to kidnap my own cat to Mexico. Diapers and wine will be enjoyed by all parties involved, until I ultimately end up in a Texas jail, which hopefully at least won’t have snow. Life has officially come to such a winter-induced halt that the entire internet lost its collective shit over a dress. A dress. An ugly dress that one mom wore to one distant relation’s wedding. The Comcast guy and I even had a debate about it (he saw lavender and brown, which was not an option, and obviously something someone would say who works for a corporation whose mission statement reads, “ruin lives”). What we should absolutely be focusing on instead is the unparalleled joie de vivre being demonstrated by that baby weasel who took a fucking woodpecker for a ride. Whether he was literally trying to tame his dragon, or just really, profoundly hungry, he took life by the motherfucking balls, and we should all take. some. notes. I think if we combine the gumption of that weasel with the follow through of the Underwoods (assuming you’re already finished with season three of “House Of Cards”), we all might be able to afford boats, and never be cold again. I invite you to keep that imagery alive in the back of your mind while we get into what really wasn’t even that problematic this week, because everyone has been sober or something.

1. Lean In Won’t Go Away

Sheryl Sandberg, known friend of Hillary Clinton and COO of Facebook, may have let her company’s social media platform turn into a hell scape of your mom’s recipes and your parent’s friends telling you you’re pretty, but she refuses to let her dogmatic dreams of being a feminist theorist peter out in the same way. It’s been about a year since her innocuous and ineffective “Ban Bossy” campaign, in which she attempted to eliminate the word “bossy” in order to change the way young girls perceive female leadership. I haven’t had enough wine to get into that one again, so we’ll just move on to today’s Sandbergian foray into feminist relevance. What initially put her on the social theory map was her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Sandberg’s book suggests that women don’t do enough to triumph through the glass ceiling, and if they just “leaned in” to dominating both the workplace and the home, then they too would have it all, just like her. It’s a book that makes Patricia Arquette’s Oscar comments seem like a Gloria Steinem inspirational quote, made special with a footprint in the sand border and sepia tones for Instagramming purposes.

This week Sandberg’s mantra, which now has its own dedicated organization, has morphed its ideas through social media hashtags, just like any good revolution should. The Lean In Organization began encouraging women everywhere on Thursday to share stories online about the men in their lives who help them #LeanIn, under the guise that we all #LeanInTogether, and with the slogan “When men lean in, everyone wins” (queue horror movie shrieking). #LeanInTogether is almost more problematic than #LeanIn (and I can die happy now that I have been able to begin and end the same sentence in hashtags). Aside from just being a desperate attempt at trending, the campaign’s change in message reads like a half baked mission to sidestep criticisms of the original idea, like how it suggested that women shouldn’t want or need partners. Lean In-ers sadly failed to remember that intersectionality exists, and we are not all straight, white women with husbands, nor are all women fortunate enough to have positive male influences in their lives. Perhaps they were trying to help abolish the backwards perception that feminism is inherently laden with misandry, but altering a feminist mantra to inflate men seems a little premature in the whole grand scheme of things. I absolutely think that women should celebrate the men in their lives, but #leanintogether suggests that we don’t even need feminism anymore. Last night my supportive boyfriend brought home Wendy’s and wine during a snow storm, and we both would like it if Sheryl and her bullshit feminism could #leanaway from us.

As #Problematic as Robert Durst blinking:


2. Cinderella Has An Eating Disorder

So at this point we’ve all at least considered the possibility that Disney is actually a racist, money-hungry cartoon company founded by a Nazi, and set forth to propagate antiquated gender roles. Even if you still paint with all the colors of the wind, deep down you have to kind of know that you’re enjoying some real revisionist stuff, my friend. Leave it to Disney then to not give up their dedication to make believe even when they delve into live-action movie making.

The trailer is finally out for the upcoming remake of “Cinderella,” and people everywhere are losing their shit (likely because the best movie in theaters right now, “Focus,” is about a 24-year-old woman who is romantically interested in a 46-year old man. So, it’s also kind of a Disney story). From what the internet can tell though, the princess’ waist seems to have been shrunken to a digitally-edited level, ushering in a new age of CGI-orexia. To make things worse, after adamant claims from Disney that neither the film stills nor the trailer were edited to make Lily James’ waist smaller, the actress recently, and what seemed to be unknowingly revealed in an interview that the real problem is so much worse than some computer tinkering.

In order to spend the long shooting hours in her costume, complete with the corset that she claimed, “pulled me [within an] inch of my life,” James went on a liquid diet. Because the corset prevented her from digesting food, she abstained from anything solid during filming. I can’t believe I even have to go here, but it seems elsewhere on the internet everyone just wants to be relieved that her waistline wasn’t photoshopped, rather than take issue with the far more serious concern that Disney was so adamant that a live-action Cinderella have the same waistline as a 1950’s cartoon that the actress playing her stopped eating. Instead of taking the initiative to ask that she be outfitted with a costume that perhaps fit well enough that she could, oh I don’t know, eat food, James seemed completely resolute discussing the decision making that went into the film. What’s problematic is that teen girls everywhere are going to read the ubiquitous headlines about James’ liquid diet, and think that her method is an acceptable way to be the size that Hollywood dictates attractive. Also, it’s disheartening that a young actress would be so willing to acquiesce to such absurd standards and working conditions, and not raise hell that a bunch of male movie executives couldn’t even handle her already size 0 body. Lily James is 25-years-old, and no woman necessarily has to be a role model if she doesn’t want to be, but I would hope she would be more self-aware about the character she is portraying in the eyes of children who idolize Disney princesses. This is just a little too problematic to even joke about. I hope James is enjoying lots of salad now.

As #Problematic as … Pee Wee Herman’s tarnished reputation:


3. Kelly Clarkson Is Back

When was the last time you heard someone say, “I wonder when Kelly Clarkson is making her comeback?” The answer is likely five years ago, to never. But Kelly is back in a big way, and everyone (I hope) is wondering why. I’m still pushing for the Reba angle—that being, when you marry Reba’s step son, you get Reba’s power. (I fully believe that Reba McCentire is in every limo that I see.) More likely though, Kelly knew she could maybe squeeze one more pop record out of her career, and she was going to give it her all. What’s fascinating is that the initial press throws for Piece By Piece have taken off with the momentum of a Katy Perry release, but Clarkson is an artist with little to no media attention in the last five years. Were you all really waiting for her comeback THAT hard? What coffee shop have you all been meeting in, Starbucks? I mean, she got her own Fallon sketch. That’s pretty much a tried and true barometer of relevance, or so I thought.

I just can’t really fathom headlines outside of “Talent show winner has baby, makes comeback record,” but she even has a spread in Entertainment Weekly advertised on the cover as “Finally, our long national nightmare is over. Kelly Clarkson has a new album.” Kelly doesn’t do herself many favors in the interview, confessing, “I don’t have a filter. Or a fake face,” attempting to claim some kind of edginess that I must be blind to. We’re talking about a woman who doesn’t consider herself a feminist because she has a husband. She has the edge of a cotton ball.

Now let’s get back to Reba. Clarkson married into country royalty, and she’s not putting out a country record? That is a move that I might even let her call edgy if she were to make it, and could mesh her vocal talents with the actual image she has, rather than the one she would like to pretend exists. She does tell EW, “I could make an R&B record or a big-band record. I don’t have any boundaries.” That sentiment is more align with not having any true artistry, but you say tomato, Kelly. Now I will admit to liking “Heartbeat Song,” because I am a human woman, but on top of everything else, the ploy of promoting gay rights in the video is a cheap, and exploitative move that reveals just how desperate this last pop moment will likely continue to be. All I can think to answer this Kelly conundrum is that this record is the last in her cycle with her current label, and they’re sending her off with a big ol’ budget. Kudos, Kelly.

As #Problematic as … Mama June getting a spin off:


4. Paul & Kanye Forever

When Kanye’s not busy planning outfits for his wife and child, he’s been slowly releasing tidbits from his upcoming album “So Help Me God.” Having two albums in a row titled with god references is problematic in itself, but I think we’ve all become accustomed to, if not even slightly endeared by his raging god complex. Maybe this time around though, it’s not the biblical kind of messiah that Yeezy is boosting on his record, maybe it’s actually a much more real kind of god, a human kind of god, a Paul McCartney kind of god.

I won’t lie to you, “FourFiveSeconds” is a great song. And if I go to jail tonight, promise you’ll pay my bail. But, the aesthetic incarnation of that song however, is actually a black and white high school film project where Kanye wakes up a singer, and has to take clues from an auto-tuned baby speaking in tongues and an old zombie learning his first chords on the guitar, in order to get to Rihanna’s talent show performance where she’ll hopefully give him his credibility back. That is to say that the music video for the song is an upsetting reality check about what’s really going on here. Kanye West is exploiting one of the most influential musicians of all time for some kind of rebirth of relevance. Kanye’s commitment to doing things differently and courting a kind of cultural renaissance is admirable, but including Paul McCartney on his new record just seems like he got tired of reinvention and this would be an easy way to seem forward thinking. If the two were perhaps creating something together that was a fundamental shift from Kanye’s normal artistry, one could maybe make the argument that this partnership wasn’t just a mutually beneficial publicity stunt for two inherently different musical egos. But when two of music’s biggest current names release a single, joined by a fucking Beatle, you expect said Beatle to do more than absentmindedly strum a guitar and sing harmonies that are as low as possible in the mix. And don’t start with “Only One” either, McCartney just plays a couple of chords on a keyboard, and the fact that it’s about Kanye’s mother can’t and won’t breathe importance into those chords.

Kanye decided to let Paul finish though, and McCartney gets to actually whistle and sing a little bit of auto-tuned gargle at the end of “All Day.” Sounds good, right? No, it’s terrible. Paul McCartney singing on a song with a refrain of “all day n***a” is one of the scariest things that you or I should ever have to hear, and it’s time for someone to force that man into retirement. Who knew that Ringo would be the one making all the classy moves in the end?

As #Problematic as … Kim Kardashian sitting next to Anna Wintour:


5. The World Is So Boring Right Now

Which is #Problematic AF. But this is the best thing that happened this week.