From Achilles and Alexander to "national greatness
," the glamour of battle is remarkably persistent. So is the glamour of martyrdom, as any trip through a Western museum or perusal of a Lives of the Saints
(or its Protestant equivalent
) will demonstrate. Nor is martyrdom's appeal to Christians merely historical, as Eliza Griswold reported in this 2007 TNR piece
Glamour appeals to our desires, whatever they may be, and Jihadi glamour offers something for everyone: from historical importance to union with God, not to mention riches and beautiful women. Consider this excerpt on the glories of martyrdom from the Egyptian cleric Hazem Sallah Abu Isma'il (transcribed and translated by MEMRI, my ellipses, video here):
It's a compelling vision. Of course, traditional martyrs--Muslim or Christian--don't deliberately blow up innocents (though religious wars are hard on civilians).
Watching the excellent new movie Traitor, I was struck by another aspect of terrorist glamour: how much it resembles, at least in fictional portrayals, the glamour of heist movies. (Don Cheadle is an explosives expert in both Traitor and the Ocean's 11 movies.) In both, you have a secret and intricate plan in which every team member is important and the goal is to outwit authorities and commit a crime. It's not hard to imagine how appealing that might be to a bored and impressionable person.
As Rushdie suggests, of course, glamour always leaves something out, in this case the literally gory details of the act (and I wouldn't bet on eternal life or crowns and virgins). And in most of its incarnations, glamour proves perishable. Either aspirations change, entropy and boredom set in, or the audience learns too much, destroying the mystery and grace on which glamour's beautiful illusion depends. The question for this September 11 is, How do we puncture the glamour of Jihadi terrorism? The first step is recognizing that such glamour exists.
To save a lucky DG reader from the ravages of winter dry skin, our glamorous friends at KMR Communications have put together a gift package of three luxurious home spa products from Sothys.
SOTHYS Aroma-Sothys Energizing Shower Gel - Softly cleans and tones the skin. It contains essential oils of eucalyptus, cardamom, nutmeg, and neroli for an energizing fragrance while leaving your body feeling refreshed. Retail price: $24 For a chance to win, simply comment on this post (be sure to include your email address, which does not need to be made public). We will select the winner using Random.org on December 22.
SOTHYS Aroma-Sothys Energizing Bath Essences Tablets - Effervescent, playful and revitalizing bath pebbles which enrich the bath with their tonic and energizing fragrance... a particular moment of pleasure and wellness. Retail price: $26
SOTHYS Aroma-Sothys Energizing Essential Oils Elixir - Magical, this very concentrated dry oil is an invitation to happiness: when massaged, it restores tonus and felicity... the skin is divinely satiny and full of energizing active ingredients. Retail price: $29
Contest open to U.S. residents only. Prize package will be shipped from KMR Communications.
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Now that we've complied with federal regulations, how about a little shopping?
With the state’s never-ending budget crises, jammed freeways, and high cost of living, California dreamin’ is out of style. “We are now the state that can’t,” Stephen Levy, the go-to guy for quotes about the California economy, told the NYT earlier this week. Calling the state “increasingly ungovernable,” the WaPost's Dan Balz writes:
The rest of the country has long looked to California as the future. It was once a leader in developing public infrastructure, and it created the most enviable system of public universities in the nation. Now the nation sees California and worries that its economic and political troubles will infect other states.
So the answer to the question at the top of this post would seem to be NO WAY!
But consider the Ferrari California, released last year. Why would Ferrari name its hot new car the California if California symbolizes traffic jams and screwed-up government? (For a higher-resolution version of the video, directed by Michael Mann, see the Ferrari California site.)
And why would Apple label all its products “Designed by Apple in California”? (This unaffiliated Apple reference site even adopted the slogan as its domain name.) Ferraris and iPods are both glamorous products. Why connect them to an unglamorous place?
In a post from 2007, Joel Spolsky gets the psychology exactly right:
You think of California, not the actual state, with its endless dismal boulevards full of muffler shops and donut stores, but the California of memory: the Beach Boys, the Summer of Love, and the beatniks, a utopian land of opportunity, an escape, where you go when you leave behind the cold winters and your conservative parents back in Cleveland.
And “Apple” in California is, of course, on the literal level, a computer company, and not a very nice one, but put those words together and you think of apple orchards, and the Beatles, and you think of how Forrest Gump got rich off of Apple stock. And “designed in California...” It's not made. It's designed. In California. Like a surfboard. Or a Lockheed XP-80.
And, of course, it might distract your attention from the fact that we no longer make things like this in America. We design them, but they pretty much have to be made in China.
Either way, the iPod slogan Designed by Apple in California triggers a flood of emotional responses that just make you happy to have selected this MP3 player.
I think there’s something else operating as well. California may seem too familiar and troubled to Americans in other states, but it still has glamour abroad. The UCLA student store attracts Asian tourists stocking up on souvenirs. The Ferrari California is aimed particularly at buyers in China and Russia. Is the Golden State still glamorous when seen from afar? And, if so, does distance explain the glamour, or is there something more?
Editor's note: Kate originally published this post on October 16, 2008, but recent events make it worth a new look.
Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic speculated about a Sarah Palin reality show, but you can tell he's not really familiar with the parameters of the genre. (Ophelia Swims came closer.) For a really successful series, you need an attractive protagonist (because they come into your home, every week), a lively and diverse supporting cast, and a location or situation in which conflict, resolution, and emotion can bloom.
North of 60 with Sarah
In this new reality series, former candidate for Vice-President, Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin, a forty-ish, flirty mother of 5 (!), juggles affairs of state, lost homework, disgruntled constituents, injunction-waving lawyers, wedding planning, and putting meat on the table. Think docu-drama meets C-Span, shot on location in the wilds of the frozen north.
In the first episode, spunky Sarah vetos anti-gill net legislation and an extended curfew for Willow with equal aplomb. Piper stows away on a float plane, but a quick thinking state trooper has her home for dinner.
Future episodes include a show-down between Sarah and Putin over fishing rights that's soon eclipsed by the furor raised by Bristol's determination to have a vegan wedding buffet.
Later, French premier Sarkozy shows up for a fly-fishing lesson--without his wife! Thanks to an emergency international call, the First Dude saves the day.
Sounds almost real, doesn't it? Have your people call my people. (Looks like cameras are rolling!)
(Apologies to the CBC.)
This Reason.TV video pokes some serious fun at state laws requiring interior designers to be licensed in order to work or, more often, in order to call themselves "interior designers" rather than decorators. The attempt to justify such laws as consumer protections is lame. The video sums up the obvious motive behind them in a pithy quote: "You make more money if you have less competition." Ah...the glamour of restraint of trade.
Over the past decade or so of observing designers of all sorts, however, I've come to believe that there's more to the lust for licensing than pure economics. Designers crave respect--note the video's derisive references to throw pillows, even as it makes the case that good interior design requires talent and experience--and many imagine that a license will buy it for them: Hey, I'm a professional! Even if it doesn't, more money makes a nice consolation prize.
Happy birthday, Barbie! The hot, plastic blonde has turned 50 and was feted with her own fashion show at NY Fashion Week. (It took me a minute or two, but I do believe that is a real human model in the link's photo, not a giant Barbie doll. Uncanny, though!)
Ah yes, but if you watched the vid of the fashion show and thought, those dresses are great but Barbie was much more buxom than the runway models, maybe you need to be introduced to the newest Barbie... Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Barbie.
The cheerleader has smaller bosoms, skinnier legs, a more vapid stare (perhaps hunger?), and hip bones that portrude from her frame. In other words--she's just like a real model! AT LAST!
Unfortunately, the wet rags over at Commercial Free Childhood don't agree. They have given the new Barbie their TOADY award saying:
"The Barbie Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Doll teaches girls to focus on their appearance, to aspire to an eating-disordered body, and to play at being sexy before they’re even capable of understanding what sexy means."
Look guys, I think we all need to see the silver lining on this new cheerleader Barbie. A) She's obviously overcome a lot of physical limitations to be able to stand--let alone dance!-- on those bird legs, so good for her! and B) she's somehow still got energy even after the tape worm has ravaged her once hourglass figure. Poor girl. She's obviously in the special needs category, let's leave her alone.
"In collaboration with the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, Mattel created a Barbie Doll that makes standard Barbie look like a clerk at Wal-Mart. Complete with toothpick legs and shorts that don’t qualify as shorts on several levels, Cowboy cheerleader Barbie will surely inspire thousands – perhaps millions – of little girls to vomit their cafeteria pizza so they’re still sexy in their P.E. shorts."
Well, there's one thing she's good at-- Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Barbie made the real NY fashion models look fat, for that alone she definitely deserves an award! Congrats!
Cathy Horyn thinks it's bad that Michelle Obama works with a mere retailer, rather than individual designers, to develop her wardrobe as first lady:
Designers should have direct access to the first lady, and not have their work and ideas put through the filter of a retailer.
Yes, I'm sure they'd love direct access--as would a lot of other people. But there's a tradeoff: You can either have one or two designers with direct access or a lot of different designers edited by a specialist who isn't also trying to be a public figure.
Besides, nobody applies that standard to furniture designers or upholstery fabric designers. Everyone thinks it's perfectly normal for the Obamas to employ an interior designer to make the White House suit their style. Maybe we need a "designer" term for stylists--costume designers for playing yourself.
As for the photo, that's no stylist. That's an Interior Department official, wrapping the first lady in an Indian shawl.