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Pop culture dilemma: ‘Sex sells’ creates generic music artists

In 2014, it was revealed that Britney Spears was lip syncing her Las Vegas shows.  Then, in 2016, Victoria Beckham admitted that she turned off her mic during concerts with the Spice Girls.  And if anyone happened to watch Mariah Carey botch her New Year's Eve performance in Times Square—which included embarrassing mechanical failures, awkward choreography, and out-of-sync lip syncing—it was another indication that something was amiss with the music business today.    Instead of being art-led, the music industry has become market-led, and “sex sells” is its first principle.  Consequently, popular music is now saturated with generic female artists who require sensationalism to promote their product.   Pop music became more commercialized around the “sex sells” motto when the Spice Girls gained notoriety in the 1990s.  The group was not created to sell music per se; rather, the Spice Girls brand was key to marketing an image known as “girl power.”  Although the concept suggests autonomy and assertiveness, the result was a further commodification of feminism.   Artistry and musicianship were jettisoned in exchange for skimpy outfits and high heels.  Management was less interested in the group’s musical talent and more intrigued by its marketability.  Hence, the stripper chic phenomenon, which is now a staple of Music Television Video (MTV), was a Spice Girls’ trademark.  To sell more, one must dress less, and this “less is more” attitude is thoroughly embedded in the performances of contemporary female artists.   The release of the video “Lady Marmalade” in 2001 is a perfect case in point.  Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, and Pink are dressed to resemble scantily clad hookers in a Moulin Rouge-like brothel.  Aguilera touches her pubic area, all the while perching doggie-style on a bed.  In 2002, Aguilera followed up with “Dirrty,” a classic example of the stripper… Read More

New Haven pit bull attack

Barbara Kay is a founding governor of the Prince Arthur Herald. She has been a columnist for the National Post newspaper since 2003, and is a frequent commentator on television and radio, as well as a public speaker. Her novel A Three Day Event was published in 2015. She lives in Montreal. Author's Note: Since publication, the pit bull victim in my story has died after a week in a medically induced coma. It was announced this month that both Montreal  and Quebec City intend to pass dangerous-dog legislation bills that have enraged pit bull advocates but will, in a victory for public-safety proponents, ban new pit bulls from the general dog population in these jurisdictions. As with bans in other jurisdictions like Denver, which has not seen a dogbite-related fatality since its ban was enacted in 1989, the initiative will eliminate dogbite-related fatalities like a recent incident in Montreal, and will starkly reduce the most serious kinds of dogbite-related injuries. Praise is due to these Canadian municipalities for acting on evidence rather than succumbing to the well-oiled machinations of the pit bull advocacy movement. (Special kudos to Quebec’s largest French-language newspaper, La Presse, for doing real homework on the issue and for its subsequently influential editorial campaign on this front.) By painful coincidence, the announcement coincided with an especially horrific pit bull incident in New Haven, Connecticut, where two pit bulls belonging to Hamilton Hicks, a 36-yr old Harvard-trained psychiatric resident at Yale University attacked a 53-year old woman friend, Jocelyn Winfrey, as she entered his property with him. The dogs also attacked Hicks when he attempted to pull the dogs off Winfrey. His injuries were reported as serious, but not life-threatening, while Winfrey’s are shockingly extensive. In media interviews, a neighbour, Alderman Brian Wingate described what he witnessed:… Read More

Gun availability isn’t gun culture

Ben Peterson is completing a Master's in Public Policy at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. An Austinite and a die-hard Star Trek fan (TOS only, of course), he graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in 2011 with a B.S. in History Pre-Law, Bible double-major, and International Studies minor. Follow him on Twitter at @ben_2_long. The following article was originally published in the Intercollegiate Review in November 2015. After the terrorist attack in Orlando, the most deadly on U.S. soil since 9/11, policy proposals have mostly landed in two broad camps: the first is to call for increased gun control measures; the second is to focus on the ISIS link and the broader conflict against radical Islam. By republishing this piece, we hope to shine a light on an alternative measure for the former, and to think hard about the following questions: why do mass shootings seem to happen more frequently in the U.S. than it did in the past? And what can be done about it? *  *  * Gun violence and gun control have become subjects of frequent conversation and political debate because of high-profile mass shootings, especially school shootings. Even though gun crimes have been declining overall, we have a problem. According to the International Business Times, the United States has the highest level of gun ownership in the world and high levels of gun violence in comparison with other developed countries. Some have criticized “America’s unique gun culture” as the root of the problem. But “gun culture” is not the problem. The problem is gun availability without gun culture. Gun availability and gun culture are not the same. Culture is a way of life, a set of ideas and practices that constitute living in community at a particular time and place. It includes beliefs, traditions, and processes by which one generation passes them to the next. Gun culture, rightly understood, is… Read More

Arithmetic divinity

When I was in England decades ago, researching the history of the British scientific elite, I loved visiting Trinity College, Cambridge, although I was green with envy of its students. It was, and is, a matchless centre of mathematical and scientific achievement. It has also produced half a dozen prime ministers, and many great writers and poets. But it was above all the college of Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, Ernest Rutherford (and 31 other Nobel prize winners), and the mathematician-philosophers, Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead. Trinity was also attended by trio of gifted mathematicians in the early 1900s: two Englishmen, G. H. Hardy, J.E. Littlewood, and the even more talented, physically frail Indian, Srinivasa Ramanujan. Their friendship and close collaboration in the years 1913-1920, especially that between Hardy and Ramanujan, is a remarkable story familiar to mathematicians for many years, and Ramanujan is a national hero in India, but their tale was little known to the general public before the appearance of a good 1991 biography of Ramanujan by Robert Kanigel, The Man Who Knew Infinity. Now Matthew Brown has made a film based on the book. I went to see it as soon as it opened at the Forum multiplex, not sure it will be around for long. Despite a good script, fine performances by the three leading actors, and an important story, I doubt if this film will compete in grapevine buzz with the more melodramatic portrayals of brilliant mathematicians in A Beautiful Mind and The Imitation Game. Both of these used a reliable mythic formula, the tale of suffering and misunderstood genius on the borderland of saintly madness, set against the backgrounds of World War II and Cold War cryptography. Brown's film is set in the years of World War I, but that war has only occasional relevance… Read More

Constraining personal identity is not the government’s job

      Tom Kott is CEO of the Prince Arthur Herald, having previously served as Editor-in-Chief from 2012-2014. He studied political science and history at McGill, and now works in public relations with HATLEY Strategy in Montreal. Follow him on Twitter @TomKott.   Last week, Québec Solidaire Member of the National Assembly Manon Massé presented a private member’s bill that would allow minors as young as 14 to alter the sex marked on their birth certificates. This reform would bring Quebec laws in line with those in Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia, where such changes are already allowed. Transgender youth in Quebec already have the right to legally change their names to reflect the sex with which they identify. The new bill seeks to remove the burden that transgender teens feel when forced to choose between their legal identity and how they truly feel. In an op-ed that appeared in the Montreal Gazette, Kimberly Manning gave the example of a young student losing 20 minutes on a high school entrance exam to decide whether to check the M box or F box. This type of hardship is one that most people will never be able to comprehend, myself included. The world is changing, and the notion of identity is much more fluid that it used to be – which is arguably a good thing. The days where people are discriminated against based on their identity is waning away. But this evolution puts into question the government’s role in our lives. If we agree as a society that people have a right to freely determine their own identity, which is so far the trend, then what authority does the government have to stop it? And in that case, why should the law affect some people differently than others? It seems archaic then that couples in Quebec… Read More

The Liberal big brother Is watching & the Usual Suspects

The never-ending quest to fulminate outrage in the United States of Bernie Sanders has many iterations. The most baffling, to Canadians at least, is the concept that showing photo ID before voting is all just a racist plot to suppress the black vote. In an Esquire piece by Charles P. Pierce entitled “North Carolina's Voting Laws Are Conspicuously Suppressing the Vote”, Pierce blames a George W. Bush-appointed judge for upholding a law that, he says, represses the black vote in the“consistently insane state of North Carolina”. All to solve “a virtually non-existent` problem”, claims Pierce. How was this insanity cultivated? By making citizens wear a yellow star? By holding elections in secret locations? By having militias beat up anyone voting the wrong way? Of course not. Pierce’s monumental grievance is the insistence that citizens produce an approved form of photo ID to vote in state elections. He cites tales of bureaucratic incompetence in recent elections to buttress his case. Pierce then applies the progressive conceit that it’s somehow harder for blacks to obtain a driver’s license or passport— the same IDs required to legally purchase liquor, beer or tobacco in the state. While Pierce alleges voting numbers from blacks don’t seem proportionate to their population in North Carolina, similar declines are not reported in the purchase of these products requiring photo ID. For Canadians who have used photo ID in elections, this outrage may come as a surprise. But the patrician attitudes of white Northeast U.S. liberals like Pierce in “protecting” rights of blacks or women or transgendered are essential to maintain their positions as the well-funded advance troops of enlightenment in the media. Pierce is particularly virulent about the judge saying that perhaps North Carolina has made progress in race relations the past quarter century. “The conservative movement has… Read More
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