Sunday, March 24, 2013

Celebrity Culture and its Influence on Fashion

There's no way one can deny the influence of celebrities on American culture - particularly on fashion and the aspirations of their fans. I wish it weren't so. Some of the most popular have proven lately that they aren't worthy role models.

I used to think that Beyoncé had a pretty good handle on her image. She's shown above, glamorous in H&M's new summer advertising campaign - just as her single, Bow Down, marks a tasteless turn in her image. As the Telegraph said, "Say what you will about Beyoncé, this is a woman who throughout her phenomenally successful singing career, has nailed the powerful, sassy superwoman act down to a tee. So much so, that none other than Barack Obama hailed her as being the perfect role model for his two daughters." I wonder if he would say that today.

One could not miss the news this week that she is now calling herself "Mrs. Carter" in a bow to her subservient marital status. In Bow Down, she sings,  "I know when you were little girls/You dreamed of being in my world/Don't forget it, don't forget it/Respect that, bow down, b**ches," with the refrain “bow down, b**ches” aggressively and tediously repeated throughout her song with a message. It's a message that could backfire on her - at least with her older admirers, like me, who thought of her as a classy, independent woman who sang the right message for young, "single ladies." I am very disappointed in her. She's certainly no longer a Gucci-type gal.

What's gone wrong with cute, little Justin Bieber? The clean, parent-approved kid from Canada seems to have morphed into a thug. Why were his fans kept waiting for two hours before he showed up on stage weeks ago? Then he collapsed during a subsequent performance. Were there drugs involved? At that point, I felt sorry for the kid - until he crudely flashed his underwear in a photo he tweeted from the hospital. He has been kicked out of ritzy hotels, fought with photographers, tattooed his body, turned to a vocabulary laced with profanity, and bragged while blasting his critics. It looks to me like he might be on his first steps toward Lindsay Lohan's disastrous life. Child star gone bad? Where are his parents?

Here "she" is, showing up for court with her clueless attorney (the one who told Billy Bush she is an "iconic Hollywood treasure"). Not everyone arriving for a court appearance for a car accident she caused is showered with glitter. Given her shopping habits (she went shopping after she accepted a plea agreement that includes a 90-day stint in rehab), you would think she could have worn something a bit less revealing. The white two-piece dress was gorgeous - and entirely inappropriate. I doubt 90 days in rehab will change her ways. If I had been the judge, I would have given her a sentence she could remember. Apparently she has forgotten the prior ones. In her case, I won't ask, "Where are her parents?"

I'm glad I don't have children. Raising kids today is a challenge. Our society seems to hold out celebrities like these as role models. Beyoncé and Bieber have been cited frequently as worthy idols. LiLo could have stayed on that track, but she jumped off the train long ago.

Back to my original blurb/rant. Beyoncé's H&M campaign will be prominently featured during her upcoming world tour. In the print advertisements and billboards, she will be referenced as, “Beyoncé as Mrs. Carter in H&M.” Known for its edgy corporate branding, is H&M putting its stamp of approval on her message or just her look?

Photos courtesy of WWD, Justin Bieber, and Vanity Fair


Anonymous said...

i agree with you 100% i know this has nothing to due with what was posted but, i'm somewhat under the weather today....which summer collection are you liking best? chanel, dior, or tom ford's. you're not aloud to say all three! :D i'm a bit uneasy about the blue trend for eyes (i'm over 40). i suppose if blended and applied carefully, it will look beautiful for all ages. i'm liking tom ford's because of the neutrality. and of course, i'm loving the others too! did you notice chanel is not showing a new bronzer compact this year? maybe, this collection will suit pale girls well??? xxxxxx wendy p.s. i don't have children but, i'm a teacher so really i have 32 of them! i can tell you that i've been an educator of very young children for 20 years. during our grouptime at school, the children are highly distracted. our "weather and thematic songs" are no longer popular. the children sing and talk constantly about justin beiber, even wearing clothing with his picture on it. i'm still starry-eyed for the olson twins.

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Wendy,

I'm probably most excited about Tom Ford's collection, but perhaps that's because I haven't seen it in person, held it, and played with it. The aqua trend is ultra-big for summer, and I agree that it's a tough trend to adopt. In anything but a very light accent dose, it looks silly on me.

There is a new EL Bronze Goddess (huge) bronzer that is available in Light. It's really nice. I love the Guerlain I purchased recently in 00. Great color for pale faces!

I thought the Bibes would be a good thing for kids. He was so wholesome. Then, I watched as he made this turn. Given his formerly wholesome image, I hoped it was temporary. I read some Internet boards this week, and all the girls are still professing their undying love for him - despite his recent antics. Go figure.

Time for a new kid on the block!

Hooray for teachers! Maybe you could sneak in a lesson on proper role models?

Anonymous said...

I too do not have children as I spent the years following university and beyond working in the trenches and building my career in the 80's and 90's. I think CG we perhaps we share some similarities both in lifestyle and outlook. I abhor celebrity culture and do my best to stay ignorant, but of course the Linsday Lohan and Justin Bieber--a fellow, but entirely irascible Canadian--debacles have filtered through and reached my world. Now, I am absolutely horrified to read of these misogynistic lyrics being sung by the likes of Beyonce. *Gasp* I rather liked her mostly squeaky clean image. Sometimes I feel frustrated and believe woman came so far in the 80's and 90's only to have the ball and momentum seriously dropped in the millenium. Have you ever heard the line "When women started pole dancing for exercise, the battle of the sexes was won... by MEN".. It riles me beyond belief and my head almost explodes when I hear it.

Ack, when I start ranting on the state of things, sometimes I fear I sould a little like my parents. I hit the big 50 this year and have never been happier in my own skin, but at the same stretch I question the values, or should I say lack thereof exhibited by our 'modern' culture. I was really lucky and retired quite young from my previous whirlwind heavy travel and even heavier work lifestyle and have been fortunate enough to be able to make changes and choose a lifestyle which is very quiet and simple and yet very fulfilling. Sadly, I see a lot of people just going through the motions and sometimes when I spend far too much time thinking and analyzing everything, it quite breaks my heart.

angusmum1 said...

I have a lot of mixed feeling on these issues. I am a parent of one 10 year old boy and work as a school social worker. I had my son a little later in life, it is hard as parents often feel like we are drifting without a liferaft. I know that one thing is that if you are the type of person who likes predictability and order(we all do to some extent) you have to fllow your instincts, mistakes in parenting will happen. Also I worked with elementary student population until recently, am now at a high school, what a difference, scares me but I also see a ton of wonderful young people. given my role it is easy to get caught up in the "troubled" youth thing as that is who I get to know then when I do have interactions with "average" young people they seem like saints!! Anyway my two cents, recent events in my life have been taxing however emphasizing the wonderful people out there.

Charlestongirl said...

Hi wwendalynne,

It crossed my mind that I sounded like my parents. I just think it's worse today than it was when we were very young. Then, there were still good kids who just sang and acted without all the celebrity worship.

Charlestongirl said...

Hi angusmum1!

I think there are still plenty of level-headed, wonderful young people with their heads screwed on straight. My comments were aimed more at our entire culture that seems to consider some bag eggs worthy of our attention. Why do they get so much attention? Do I care to hear about the Kardashians every day on the news? Nope!

Meredith said...

My husband and I have raised two wonderful sons and we've been married for 29 years next month. He and I both have many of the same basic values with respect for others and yourself, at the top of the list. Respect for yourself is not to be confused with being arrogant. When you respect others, you are respecting yourself because it's your own behavior. I'm probably not making my self very clear, sorry. This kind of sums it up: A Buddhist was asked if he would speed if he knew no one could see him. He said no. They other person asked why not? His answer:Because I would know. We all own our own behavior and also what comes out of our mouth is a reflection of who we are inside. Some people feel that God is watching, but whatever your stance on that subject, all of us are aware of ourselves. It's not always easy or possible to be at your best, but I do try.

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Meredith, and congratulations on your upcoming anniversary! That's fabulous.

Anonymous said...

Re beyonce- it's not a "single", she's just trying to remain relevant with the young crowd, or as they are known as "the ratchets".

I don't think she's being offensive, as the word bitches isnt really a curse word anywhere, and an aggressive attitude is okay. I think sometimes people get out off by a black woman being aggressive, but I don't think that's the case with b. I think some just may be shocked...but the days of cookie cutter celebs are dead and gone. The trend is flawed ", I'm just like you" celebs. Those we have talent and convey this message, stand to make millions. Take a look at Rihanna for more on this.

Meredith said...

IMO, the "b" word is certainly offensive. It is one of the two worst words you can call a woman. When my older son was a teenager, I heard him use the "b" word. I calmly asked him if he would call a black person the '"n" word or one of his Jewish friends a "k___". He said, "Of course not!" I asked, "Then why is it OK to call a woman a "b"? He got it and learned an important lesson. I think we all learned in Kindergarten that it's hurtful and not OK to call people bad names. Either it's OK to call everyone bad names, or no one. Could be a generational thing, but I prefer to go with courtesy instead of insults. We've all heard men ask the question, "What do women want?" We want what all people want, respect. I don't think there is anybody out there who doesn't like to be treated with respect. Words are also a reflection upon yourself. Just my opinion, as we're all entitled to our own.

Julia said...

Since I'm only 24 years old, I'd like to think I still have a pretty firm grasp on the youth culture, particularly as I have two younger siblings.
I probably am not in the majority among people my age, but I think a serious disconnect has developed between my generation and the ones below me. I grew up being the Spice Girls' number one fan. Granted they might not have been THE best moral influence on a person, but their message was one of girl power. I would say it all the time. They were loving and respectful of all types of girls around the world and made you proud to be a woman.
Pop stars and celebrities now have become so overly narcissistic it just makes me really dislike them. The obsession with material gain, the lack of educational references in their work, and the way in which they generally live their day to day lives is pretty deplorable. You used to see celebrities acting naughty-- but at least they had a good book in their hand. Now so many mainstream artists and celebrities are hailed for being wild and selfish and hardly educated, I really think it's starting to have a recognizable negative influence.

Charlestongirl said...

Totally agree, Meredith.

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Julia,

Thanks for that observation. I think it's insightful.

Tracey K said...

While I don't think there is anything wrong with taking your husbands last name, but subservient, I think not! Keeping your independence in any relationship is what makes a marriage work (28 years for me). As far as parenting, while it is hard and they make bad choices (had that situation) you have to try to establish boundaries and how to be a good human being! Not try to turn the spot light on yourself, aka the Lohan's.
On a lighter note looking forward to spring and no snow!!

Charlestongirl said...

Hey there, Tracy!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a husband's last name. It was how and when Beyoncé did it publicly, with the release of the song, that got me.

I could write volumes on the parenting folly of the Lohans, but I won't. Sparing all of you. :)

It's showing here right now. Has been since the wee hours. I am so annoyed. When I went to bed at 10:00 last night, they were still reassuring us that it would be rain in and near DC. Not! When I went out at 7:00 am to feed the birds, I had 4" in my back yard. Now? Who knows? The snow as supposed to taper off at 8:00. That didn't happen. It's now 11:15. Hate this stuff. Welcome to spring.

Meredith said...

Julia, you are very wise to see this at your young age. It just keeps getting worse as time goes by. They are all in competition to push the boundaries and they think they're being "daring" and bold, but I just see a lot of deplorable behavior and a race to the bottom. They should be ashamed but I guess it's what ever makes the money and feeds the ego. Madonna very publicly took her husbands last name and insisted on being called Mrs. Ritchey. I have no quarrel with a woman taking her husband's name, but when a celebrity makes such a public display of it, it signals that the man feels threatened by her success. Madonna ended up divorced and I wonder if this may be the first sign of B getting divorced in 3-4 years. We'll see. By the way, I was shocked at B's performance at the Superbowl. She is talented but her performance here had some pretty crude movements which I was surprised at due to the venue with people of all ages watching. Perhaps she was trying to give a more memorable show to top Janet Jackson's pretend fake showing of her breast. Rihanna, don't get me started on that woman. Just bad taste, IMO. B is at the top of her game and it would do her well to give performances that would credit her such as Whitney Houston's singing of the National Anthem at the Superbowl. Poor Whitney succumbed to drugs as we all know, but when she was at her best, she was magnificent.

Anonymous said...

Meredith, Tracy and Julia: I just wanted you to know your posts were a breath of fresh air for me.

And yes, Whitney was just magnificent, wasn't she? :) Her voice always managed to give me goose bumps.

Anonymous said...

Beyonce is a megalomaniac no-talent crude trash box. She stomped around a stage at the superbowl wearing leather, lace, and constantly pointing at her lady parts. It was seriously the worst performance I've ever seen. The morons in the US led by the president have christened her as a diva, but let's be clear that she's a has-been and history will reveal the mediocre cretin that she is.