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We're All Mad Here: Joanna is Mad! Isn't it Romantic?

Women whom history has deemed as "mad" play an interesting role in pop culture. Some of them are viewed as romantic figures, their stories revered and retold as tragic love. Others are viewed as passive objects, mostly used as props in men's stories. Still others are retroactively diagnosed as "mad" due to their actions, even when men who did the same or similar things were not.

A lot...

Sexual Inadequacy: SNL and K-Y

Last week K-Y released an ad featuring two ladies talking about their sex lives, and lubricant, and "special moments" represented by tasteful coital fireworks. They are both sitting on their bed in drab, comfortable clothes. And they have the following exchange:

(.doc transcript here)

Isn't He Lovely: The Cult of Muscularity

While I'm dubious that the Western female body ideal can be reliably found within in the pages of Playboy, a similar evolution has occurred in the sister (?) publication, Playgirl. A team of psychologists calculated the body mass index (BMI) and fat-free mass index (FFMI) of 115 Playgirl centerfolds and found that, lo and behold, the supposed male body ideal has...

Preacher's Daughter: St. Vincent's "Cruel" Take on Labor

Over the weekend, St. Vincent's upcoming album, Strange Mercy, started streaming on NPR. The woman behind the band, multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Annie Clark, started out as a member of the Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens' tour mate. She is known for juxtaposing sweet, Feist-like vocals with dark, often violent imagery. The disconnect between body and soul (that is,...

Douchebag Decree: Billy Corgan Decides Transphobia is the Only Way to Get Attention

Billy Corgan continued his downward trajectory towards irrelevancy (wrestling, anyone?) last week by not only insulting, slandering and threatening violence against Portland-based guitar pedal maker Devi Ever, but by making some incredibly transphobic statements for all of the Internet to see.

American Apparel's Next XL Top Model

Nancy's tumblr (called extra wiggle room in response to AA's message to women who "need a little extra wiggle room where it counts") is full of photos of her posing in various levels of dress with various levels of dressing (haha, but seriously she has a bunch of photos of her pouring salad dressing on herself). Behold:

BiblioBitch: The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs

Mary is not happy. Simply put, her husband, Joel, is a slob: He leaves garbage, wet towels, and dirty clothes around and ignores her (or, worse, tells her to "chillax") when she brings these habits up. At the start of the story, Mary decides to keep a tally of the times that Joel annoys her and the times he pleases her, with the goal of reevaluating their relationship...

We're All Mad Here: Parenting While Crazy

One particularly interesting, troubling, and recurrent depiction of mental illness in pop culture comes up in the handling of of mentally ill or cognitively impaired parents, where the traditional parent/child roles are reversed to advance a storyline. It is notable that this often involves a mentally ill mother, to underscore the idea that the parent is somehow failing at social obligations...

B-Sides: A Wild Flag "Romance"

The debut album from WILD FLAG (say it with me in a Bill and Ted "Wyld Stallyns!" shout-y voice) drops this month! Finally! Until we get Wild Flag in our hot little hands on September 13, let's stream it at NPR First Listen and take a look at the oh-so-fun video for the first track, "Romance."


Pop culture's image ideals for men come with their own complications and double standards, which are worth addressing as thoroughly as those leveled toward women. Just as Western female beauty ideals are modeled around straight, white women, Western male beauty standards worship at the altar of the straight, white, six-pack ab-toting man. And both are equally problematic.