Tag Archives: madonna

Beauty in the Movies: Desperately Seeking Susan

This week for Beauty in the Movies we’re heading back to the New York of 1985 for the cult classic Desperately Seeking Susan, where the streets are full of characters and you just can’t wear enough jewelry or sequins.

Desperately Seeking Susan brings us into the life of Roberta (Rosanna Arquette), a young housewives living in Fort Lee New Jersey with her neglectful, hot-tub selling husband Gary (Mark Blum). Suffering from the boredom of everyday life, Roberta finds herself obsessing over a string of personal ads in which a man, Jim (Robert Joy), is “desperately seeking” his girlfriend Susan (Madonna) in cities all over the country. When an ad pops up requesting a meeting in Battery Park, Roberta just can’t resist driving over to Manhattan to see the couple in the flesh. After witnessing the musician and his lady reunite, Roberta follows the enigmatic woman to a thrift store where she watches her trade her trademark pyramid jacket for a pair of bedazzled boots. Wanting to understand and be more like Susan, Roberta buys the jacket and rushes home to New Jersey to make dinner for her clueless husband.

That night she finds a port authority locker key in the pocket of Susan’s jacket and decides to pen her own personal ad seeking Susan in order to return the key and unlock the mystery of the woman. Unfortunately for Roberta, Susan is also being sought by a creepy guy who knows only that she unwittingly stole a pair of priceless Egyptian earrings and that she wears a gold jacket with a pyramid on the back. Uh-oh, because now Roberta is wearing that same jacket and the creepy guy is following her instead. Meanwhile Susan’s guy Jim has sent his buddy Dez (Aidan Quinn) to Battery Park to see who put the ad in the paper for Susan and check to make sure she’s alright. While Susan gets hauled away by the cops for skipping out on cab fare, Roberta is pursued by the creepy guy and subsequently falls and hits her head only to be rescued by Dez who also believes her to be Susan. She awakes to find she has lost her memory, and now Roberta believes she is Susan as well. Phew, that’s only the first half hour, from there the film weaves a path of mistaken identity and fabulous 1980’s fashion, if that’s not enough for you, there’s also this moment:

Pensive Aidan Quinn + hammock + cat = magic

When this film first went into production Madonna wasn’t Madonna yet, but by the time it wrapped they needed security to keep her growing fan base at bay during filming. Desperately Seeking Susan doesn’t show that Madonna is a great actress, in fact it probably proves the contrary, but she works well because she has a magnetism and style that invite attention. Roberta is drawn to Susan in the same way Madonna’s teenaged fans were drawn to her at the time. It’s as if the film foreshadowed the Madonna explosion, you would think it was written to emphasize the allure of the budding pop star, but it was nothing more than a happy accident. Goldie Hawn, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Ellen Barkin were all considered for the role of Susan. While I’m sure they each would have brought more depth to the role, it wouldn’t matter, because the only thing Susan needs to be is interesting, she doesn’t need to be likable or sympathetic—but she damn well needs to have style.

Desperately Seeking Susan was written by a woman, directed by a woman, and produced by women as well, so while it can be silly at times, it sidesteps the typical romantic comedy formula and delivers something decidedly different. In truth this film is really a love story between Roberta and Susan, not physically, but emotionally. Roberta is completely enthralled by Susan’s freedom and sense of self, and in her search for her own identity she falls in love with Susan’s, and even gets to live out the fantasy of being that identity before finally embracing her own.

There is something Alice and Wonderland-like about this film, Roberta being Alice and Susan the white rabbit she follows into a new world. Her life in New Jersey is seemingly perfect, but she’s miserable. When Roberta enters the somewhat mad world of Susan on the exciting but frightening streets of New York she finds an entirely new self. At first she needs to believe she is Susan in order to allow herself to change, but even when she regains her memory, she is no longer the suburban housewife she was, but someone new. This film is very much about duality and identity, who we are and who we want to be and why we should allow ourselves to explore both those ideas, because often they don’t line-up as perfectly as one would expect.

Sure, this film has its share of silly moments, but the great clothes and music, the strange background characters, and the somewhat goofy plot all add to the charm. Behind all the style, there is actually a very poignant message that was pretty rare for films about women at the time; be yourself, whoever that is. No matter what everyone else is telling you to be, you’re the one who decides who you are. In the ’80s women were taught they could have it all, but if you’re trying to be everything, you’ll probably lose yourself in the process. What’s really important to remember is that being who you are shouldn’t take any effort, and if it does, maybe it’s time to see what it would feel like to be someone else, you might even discover you’re not who you thought you were at all.

Bustier top
$110 – loefflerrandall.com

Lace top
$35 – modcloth.com

Pink top
18 GBP – arkclothing.com

Ribbed tank
$14 – kohls.com

Cropped tank
$13 – tillys.com

3 1 Phillip Lim sequin blazer
578 GBP – net-a-porter.com

DKNY sequin blazer
310 GBP – fashionbeans.com

Hayden Harnett black skirt
$198 – haydenharnett.com

LnA lace legging
90 GBP – brownsfashion.com

Demi bra
$46 – journelle.com

Pink ruffle skirt
$40 – amazon.com

Alexander McQueen open toe booty
312 GBP – net-a-porter.com

Sparkly high heels
35 GBP – office.co.uk

Oxford shoes
$40 – modcloth.com

Knotted pearl necklace
$248 – maxandchloe.com

Amrita Singh cross pendant necklace
$150 – amritasingh.com

Drop earring

1928 Jewelry black necklace
$48 – 1928.com

Tarina Tarantino cord bracelet
$30 – tarinatarantino.com

Pewter earring
$14 – amazon.com

Glitter bracelet
$6.99 – tillys.com

Eugenia Kim fedora hat
$295 – net-a-porter.com

Silver aviator sunglass
$150 – kirnazabete.com

$40 – modcloth.com

Fingerless glove
69 GBP – black.co.uk

Hobbs black belt
59 GBP – johnlewis.com

Cheap Monday sunglass
50 AUD – generalpants.com.au

Flower hair accessory
$28 – nordstrom.com

Dorothy Perkins hair bow accessory
6.50 GBP – dorothyperkins.com

Hair bow accessory
$5.98 – sears.com

Striped Boxer
$74 – barneys.com

Pima Dress Sock in Apple
$19 – blackbirdballard.com

Wet Seal skinny jeans


Filed under Beauty in the movies

Beauty in the Movies: A League of Their Own

In honor of the birth of our great nation, this week for beauty in the movies I bring you A League of Their Own.

You’ve all seen this right? I mean it’s probably the most successful female-centered film of the 90’s (seriously, what is up with all the lady flicks from 1990-1993? It’s great—but did we progress and then regress?).

The quote “There’s no crying in baseball!” is in the top one hundred movie quotes of all time. This is one of those films that actually broke into the mainstream as a huge commercial success. Is it because Madonna is in it? Or because guys like baseball so more of them would see it? Maybe it’s because it can in no way be labeled a romantic comedy, or because while there are emotional moments in the movie it avoids being overly saccharine or serious. For whatever reason, this movie side-stepped the “chick flick” label, and has become an American classic.

Here’s a little back story; in 1943 Philip K. Wrigley founded the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League as a way to keep America’s interest in baseball alive (and make money) whist the men folk were away during WWII. Though the league was an eventual success, poor management and the introduction of televised major league games in the 1950s lead to the end of the league in 1954. The film A League of Their Own, is a fictionalized account of two sisters who play on the Rockford Peaches, an actual team that played in Rockford Illinois during the eleven years the league existed.

The movie starts in the 1990’s with Dottie (Geena Davis) as an older woman, packing up to go to what we later learn is a reunion held at The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown New York where an exhibit on the AAGPBL is opening. In a flashback we get to see her story.

In 1943 Dottie Hinson is recruited after scout Ernie Capadino, (Jon Lovitz) sees her play on her local team in Oregon. Dottie’s husband is away at war, but otherwise she’s happy with her life, so she declines the invitation. Her sister Kit (Lori Petty) however is desperate to go, so Dottie agrees that as long as Kit can come along, she’ll go to the try-out in Chicago. The two sisters both make the league and end up on the Rockford Peaches together. Also on their team is Doris (Rosie O’Donnell), Mae (Madonna) and a bunch of other ladies including star-hitter Marla Hooch (Megan Cavanagh). Former pro-baseball player, and fall down drunk, Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) is signed on to coach the team, but more specifically to come out and wave his hat for the crowd before each game. With the total lack of leadership from their coach, Dottie takes over control of the team. The League isn’t doing so well, and PR manager of the league Ira Lowenstein (David Strathairn) comes to Dottie and the girls to tell them they need to be spectacular for the press or the league will shut down due to lack of funds. The girls step up to the plate (come on, I had to pun!) and play the game with gusto, grace, and showmanship. Crowds fill the stands, the girls are featured in national newspapers, and the league owner, candy-bar magnate Walter Harvey (Garry Marshall), is delighted.

Unfortunately with the success of the team, the competition is ramped up, and the sibling rivalry between Kit and Dottie reaches its peak when Dottie sends in a relief pitcher to replace Kit during a game. Seeing the tension between the two sisters, Ira Lowenstein has Kit traded to the Racine Belles. Kit blames Dottie for the trade and the two separate bitterly. I’ll end there in case any of you haven’t seen it, which I highly suggest you do, it’s a great summer movie! And also it has a great female director, Penny Marshall, and it’s always good to support films made by other women, because there aren’t enough.

One of the most notable points of the film is the way the women are sexualized and feminized in order to promote the league. Firstly, they try to limit their recruits to attractive girls, then they are sent to charm school, groomed, and put in short-skirted uniforms, which makes everything you do in baseball (like squatting) look all kinds of dirty. Doing some research into the actual AAGPBL, the women had to wear lipstick at all times, could not have short hair, and were given beauty kits with a detailed list of instructions on how to use them. They were also not allowed to smoke or drink in public, breaking any of these rules could mean a $10 fine or suspension.

This movie has a lot of great moments, many of them between the women who come to act as a family. Probably one of the sweetest mini-story lines is that of Marla Hooch, a sheltered girl raised by her father who is almost passed over by the league because while she is an astounding talent (she’s a switch hitter!), she isn’t deemed attractive enough. On their way to the try-outs in Chicago Ernie Capadino stops in with Dottie and Kit to see if Marla is any good, and when he won’t take her, Dottie and Kit drop their suitcases and refuse to leave. When Marla’s father is talking to Ernie he tells him “A coach from the American legion team said if she was a boy he would’ve taken her to the state tournament, and I said, if she was a boy I’d be in New York talkin’ to the Yankees” I’ll add that if she was a boy nobody would be thinking twice about her appearance either.

I like Marla’s storyline because it also shows us what women can do for each other. Here is a girl raised without any other female influence, but once she finally gets to be around other girls she blossoms, comes out of her shell, falls in love, and finds happiness.

Hanging over the film is the constant threat of WWII, most specifically the death of the player’s husbands. It makes for a compelling backdrop to a story about female achievement and sisterhood, and draws fuller attention the the fact that these women are just replacements for men who should be there. Much like Rosie the Riveter, the AAGPBL showed that women could take on the same challenges as men and be successful at them. Unfortunately as soon as the war had ended, the same women were expected to revert back to their former selves. The 1950’s marked a progression backward for women, as men returned to their old positions and women were left in the kitchen to forget all they had achieved. It was a sad moment in feminist history, and an important one to remember.

It’s interesting that despite the success of the league, and the film as well, women’s baseball has never been brought back in any real way. It’s unfortunate, because if their were such amazing female players then, there must be some great ones out there now who never get the opportunity to play.

I don’t think the attractiveness of these women is what made the AAGPBL popular, I think people just love baseball, no matter who is playing it, which is why it would be great to see another all American woman’s baseball team turn up one day, I hope we’ll all be around to see it when it happens.

Have a great holiday weekend everybody! Eat some BBQ and pie, see some fireworks, hang out with family and friends, and celebrate being free and being American!

I’ll see you back here on Tuesday, I’m taking Monday off for the holiday. Go have some fun, and thanks for reading—tell your friends!

Oh, and here’s the shopping list if you want to get the look:

Prince Blazer
98 GBP – julesb.co.uk
More blazers »

Enchanted Compact Mirror in Sparrow-
$12 – modcloth.com

Converse 110738 Ct As Seasonal Hi
59 CAD – gravitypope.com


Filed under Beauty in the movies

The Trouble with Popstars

Let’s talk about popstars. I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately, probably because they tend to saturate the radio, television, magazines, and internet, but also because they have a huge influence on style and culture, and both of those things have an obvious effect on the rest of us.

So what really makes someone a popstar? I think a pop artist creates danceable music, and has a certain persona they embody, they’re of course also marketable in some way, usually because they’re all sexy. The making of a popstar is a curious thing. Most of them start as something else and then transcend. Gwen Stefani started as a ska queen, Cyndi Lauper was a downtown rocker chick, and countless others have ascended to the throne of pop-stardom from complete obscurity, or from the Mickey Mouse Club.

Like I said, a big part of being a popstar is being sexy (I’m talking mainly lady popstars here), yes there are some who might not use it as much as others, but as a general rule, sex sells, especially in the record industry. I can’t get into the way that sexuality plays into pop and celebrity in general, but it must be noted that most of the women considered popstars have benefited from their sexual magnetism, is it exploitation? Well that really depends on how they feel about it. In the case of Britney Spears, I always thought there was some exploitation going on, but I can’t be sure. In the case of someone like Katy Perry or Lady Gaga, I think they’re both completely aware of how they use their bodies and make those choices for themselves, or at least I hope so. Either way being a popstar does mean a fair amount of showing skin, gyrating, and sultry, pouty-lipped, flirting with your audience and everyone else too.

People are very protective of their popstars, we love to pit them against each other, Madonna vs. Cyndi, Britney vs. Christina, Gaga against just about everyone. Just like sports teams, we maintain a certain loyalty to them, but then we turn on them when they fail us. They’re more real to us than actors because they open themselves up to us on stage. They invite us in, they write about their lives in their songs, and we connect to them (if you were a teenage girl in the 90’s tell me you didn’t blast Gwen Stefani singing Don’t Speak at full volume at least once), after all when you sing you bare your soul right?

Popstars are overblown characters, they have to maintain their persona constantly. Actors, reality TV stars, socialites, most other celebrities are not asked to do this, but popstars are more to us. They play a bigger part in culture and we expect a lot from them. Think about how many actors just continue to play the same part over and over again, Jennifer Aniston comes to mind. Likewise for comedians, as we can see from SNL, people just love to watch the same joke over and over again. The same goes for the success of Will Ferrell, or Jack Black movies, people seem to love them, sure we get sick of them too, but it takes longer, and we never really tear them a part for it.

Take Lady Gaga right now, in October when I mentioned her name to people, I was getting blank stares, now everyone and their mother (by this I mean my mother) talk about her regularly. Yet, I think we’re already getting a little bored by her, partially because of over-saturation yes, but also because we’re ready for her to do something new. I was so excited for the Alejandro video to come out, and then when it did, I found myself disappointed. I guess because like her recent  Rolling Stone cover, it just seemed like we’d seen it already, it wasn’t fun anymore. After getting annoyed and yelling “Boo! Gaga give me something better!” loudly at my computer while eating toast in my PJs  one day, I started to wonder why I already wanted something new from a girl who hadn’t been in my iTunes rotation for more than a year. Then I felt bad, and then I started to wonder why we expect so much from these people? Maybe because we know they have production powerhouses behind them, or maybe we are turning into a society that needs instant gratification. We want something new, we want something both entertaining and mind-blowing, and we want it now. But we don’t know what it is and we expect someone else to figure it out for us, like now. I think we’re a little harder on someone like Gaga too because she takes credit for a lot of the creativity and process in her work, and when you claim creative control, you open yourself up to a whole bunch of criticism.

With someone like Britney Spears, we all knew someone else was writing her songs and putting words in her mouth and she was pretty much left out of all the decision-making. So maybe we were a little more sympathetic, but that still didn’t stop us from being fascinated when she had a nervous breakdown (a nervous breakdown is after all something new and different from anything she had done before). We still wanted more from her, and of course the only thing we love more than a fallen popstar is a comeback (take note Lindsay Lohan).

I don’t think we’re as harsh on male popstars, I also don’t think we have as many male pop stars. I certainly don’t think we scrutinize Justin Timberlake nearly as much as we do Katy Perry or Beyoncé. I’m not sure what this says about our culture, probably a whole hell of a lot more than I’m even touching on, but I think it’s interesting to note our relationships with these women. We love them, we are annoyed by them, we are fascinated by them, we hate them, we want them to succeed, we love to see them fail—it’s all just insanity! They are just women like the rest of us, they’re trying to succeed, they use their sex appeal to do so yes, but that’s a choice, it may be a choice that allows some to justify treating them as less-than-human, but people tend to do that in the internet-age regardless.

Speaking of which, Jezebel had an interesting post the other day about the backlash that successful stars (pop or otherwise) face after over-saturation. If you dare go in the comments section, you’ll see many make the argument that Gaga and others (particularly Megan Fox) are boring and replaceable and that is why it’s OK to lash out against them. To me, that seems like over-justification, do we really need to put energy into hating these performers, is it our duty? Won’t they fail on their own if they’re so boring and awful?  I guess I just can’t see a reason for putting so much venom out there, it makes me wonder what you get back from it. If we aren’t happy with what is out there, it seems a much better approach to support the music or artists we love (shout out to Joanna Newsom, La Roux, and Laura Veirs) that aren’t as successful, that’s got to be better karma.

My point is that in order for my perfect world where we all love each other and accept our bodies and ourselves to exist, we have to let go of all the judgment and the hatred. They’re just popstars, they’re supposed to be fun, they aren’t running for office. They’re role-models sure, but speaking of politicians, when did being held up as a role-model ever mean you actually conduct yourself in manner befitting of one? Maybe I’ve just been in the comments section of Jezebel a bit too much lately (it can be a scary place), but I got myself all worked up about it, and this has been therapeutic for me, so thanks! Lets all try to be polite, popstars or not, surely it can only aid in making us more beautiful people.

What do you guys think of popstars, do you sympathize with them? Do you guiltily read US weekly whenever you’re at the nail salon just because you have a sick fascination with their lives…oh wait, that’s just me, or maybe it’s you too. Maybe you could give a damn about any of them. Either way let me know!


Filed under celebrity