Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Where Are They Now?" Wednesdays: The Spice Girls

I remember when the Spice Girls burst on to the scene. It was probably some time around 1996 or 1997. From the moment I first heard the lyrics to their most popular hit," Wannabe", I was hooked. I'm not ashamed to admit I still know all the words. Sing along with me: Yoooo I'll tell ya what I want what I really want: 

Shortly after its release, this song took over the charts. It's safe to say that the Spice Girls became a second wave of the British Invasion. Not only that, but they became the face of the "girl power" attitude of the 90s, a term often linked with third-wave feminism.

I remember getting not one, but two, Spice Girls barbie dolls at my sixth birthday party held at Skateland. I received Baby Spice and Sporty Spice. Much like Disney Princesses, everyone had their favorite Spice Girl. I think it's safe to say that Baby Spice was the favorite of most girls, but I always liked Sporty Spice. I was hardly athletic, unless you count Ballet and the occasional outdoor kickball game, but I liked her attitude. Plus she was brunette. I guess I'm just always drawn to Brunettes and/or was forced to play as them at Recess? (See all commentary on Belle). Posh was just too prissy for me.

I think one of the best legacies left by the Spice Girls is their movie. Who can forget the classic film that is Spice World? It has everything: an alien invasion, great songs, and Alan Cumming. Who could ask for anything more?

But enough reminiscing, let's find out what the girls are up to today!

Photo Credit:
Emma Bunton (AKA Baby Spice): After the group split up, Emma released a few of her own solo albums.  While these have been relatively unknown in the US, they did have some success across the pond in the UK. She's also done a bit of acting on the BBC equivalent of Dancing with the Stars. It seems Baby Spice is now Mommy Spice since she gave birth to her first son back in 1997.

Mel B (AKA Scary Spice): Mel B used her acting chops from the film to make her way to the stage. In 2002, she starred in a London production of the empowering show, The Vagina Monologues Emma wasn't the only one to give ballroom dancing a try. Mel recently appeared on Dancing with the Stars here in the states, and did fairly well. She also gave the broadway stage a try when she briefly played the role of Mimi in Rent for a few months back in 2004.  Mel is also the mother of two daughters.

Gerri Haliwell (AKA Ginger Spice): In 1998, Geri left the group in order to pursue her own solo career. That didn't work out too well. She did however have success with a line of Yoga videos and an autobiography. She now serves as a UN Goodwill Ambassador. She also became a mother in 2006.

Melanie Chisholm (AKA Sporty Spice): Unsurprisingly, Melanie also attempted to make a solo name for herself when the group split up. She achieved moderate success in the UK. She has dedicated most of her focus to music and touring and has not (yet) made the leap back into acting. She is the only one of the group who doesn't have a child. You can find out more on her snazzy personal website.

Victoria Beckham (AKA Posh Spice): Last, and most certainly not least is Victoria. Victoria has maintained high profile life in the limelight after marrying soccer (or football) star David Beckham. (Just look at that body)  They quickly married and had kids, so Victoria didn't branch out into her own solo career, yet she has found the most success. Like Geri, she published an autobiography. Actually, make that two. She also has her own fashion line.

If all this nostalgia has made you miss these girls, fear not, they're reuniting! It's been announced that they will be performing in London for the Queen's Jubilee. Can someone get me a ticket to london please?!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Memory Mondays: Anatomy of a Disney Princess

Little Courtney Meeting Belle circa 1995. We match! 
Everyone has a favorite Disney Princess. If you don't, well then you need to go ask your parents why they didn't love you and why they didn't buy you any Disney VHS tapes. Seriously, everyone has to have had at least somewhat of a VHS collection.

The 90s were a great time for Disney Princesses. Disney saw the cash cow they could become and marketed the hell out of them. Movies, dolls, books, barbies, dress-ups, playsets, you name it, and chances are Disney made it and marketed it. In fact, they still do. For those of us who have grown up a bit, we can now have Wedding Dresses. Yup. Wedding Dresses.

Parents bought all the toys, and little girls bought into the fantasy of being a Princess. I'm sure I'm not the only one who played some form of a princess game back on the playground. Oh the innocent joys of recess. Usually, most of the time spent playing "princess" entailed arguing over who was to play which princess. I always fought long and hard for the right to be Belle. I had brown hair, so obviously I won. (However, while looking into this topic I took a Disney Princess Personality Quiz, and apparently I am Ariel. Um hello identity crisis. Not ok.)

I never really considered the lessons Princesses teach children, until I stumbled across this picture on Tumblr:
Credit: Tumblr, Pink-Martini
This really got me thinking. It's great to see how the princesses have grown over time. I think that it's clear that these princesses are all reflections of their time periods.

Now, some would go back and criticize the original three, Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty, for being so passive. I don't think you can really do that. It's important to consider the time period. When Disney created those princesses, that's how most people viewed women. To say that a woman's place was outside of the home would be blasphemy. Betty Friedan didn't even promote the idea until the early 60s. (Note that we don't see any princesses from the 60s or 70s. Interesting)

The next bunch we see feature stronger role models, but they're not quite there. I think this reflects the fact that the glass ceiling was just starting to be chipped. (Some would argue it still has yet to break). If you're familiar with these films, each Princess is rescued by their Prince Charming. Now, obviously I didn't over analyze this as child. I just wanted to be Belle because she liked to read, too. I never thought critically about the Beast saving her from the Wolves. But now I can because I am an English major! Yay critical thinking skills. 

Clearly, Disney is now moving in a better direction. I like these three new heroines just as much as the old ones. I'm glad girls can admire their independent spirit as well as their intelligent minds. This trend seems to be continuing with the latest Disney Princess, Rapunzel.

However, it always comes back to Prince Charming. Yet, it looks like Pixar is moving in a different direction. Not much is known about Brave, but from the looks of it, this Princess seems to be the completely independent spirit some girls are looking for. (Side Note: Watch the trailer. The animation is spectacular. They might as well just hand Pixar the Oscar already)

While it's great to examine these characters and criticize them accordingly, I think the more important thing to keep in perspective is the great lessons that princesses do teach. It isn't just about love and fairytales. Ok, maybe a little bit, but we still have to give them credit for the way they inspire girls.  Belle taught us brains are beautiful. Mulan taught us the importance of family and pride. Cinderella taught us how to dream, and Tiana taught us how to achieve those dreams.

So I say let the girls (and boys too if they want!) play with the princess toys. Disney can market the princesses as long as they want, because they're marketing important lessons too.

May All Your Memories Be Meaningful (and sometimes critical),

Friday, February 24, 2012

Flashback Fridays: Furbies

Photo Credit 9Gag
Every Christmas, there's that toy that every kid absolutely has to have. First there was the cabbage patch doll, then of course Tickle Me Elmo. In the winter of 1998, there was Fruby. No one was exactly sure what a Furby was, but it talked and "interacted" with you, and that was cool enough. You didn't even have to be reponsible for it like those annoying, needy Tamagotchis.

 However, there's one thing many buyers overlooked: the thing was so fucking creepy. Seriously. Was I the only one who though Furbies looked like some weird, devil spawn, cousin of Gremlins?

I remember my first, and only Furby. It was the pink "baby" one. It was just as creepy only allegedly cuter. Someone "generously" gifted it to me at my birthday party when I was seven. Like most toys, the novelty ran out fairly quickly. I soon moved on to cooler interactive toys like DivaStarz, not as creepy, and far more trendy.

However, my Furby somehow managed to live on...I swear Furbies continue to just keep going and going and going even after the batteries die. Case in point, a few years ago, I journeyed into my basement to retrieve something. As I made my was down the dark stairs while fumbling for the light switch,  I heard the little voice I can only equate to nails on a chalkboard screeching some gibberish of a language. My Furby had somehow resurrected itself. It was probably asking, "Why don't you love meeeeee?" Answer: because you're so creepy!!  You can bet I grabbed whatever it was I needed and made my way up the stairs faster than I ever had before. That thing went into the trashcan the next morning for sure.

Apparently, some people still have their Furbies. I have no idea why; maybe they put it out as decoration for Halloween. Our interactive technology has vastly improved, but I suppose they're a nice novelty for some. Watch as Furby meets the latest interactive technology, Siri:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Where Are They Now?" Wednesdays: That Kid from Home Alone

Photo Courtesy 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Ok, so his name is actually Macauly Culkin, but let's be honest; he will always be known as "that kid from home alone." Can you believe Home Alone came out 22 years ago? Then they made that sequel. I never understood that. Seriously? You lost your kid again? Lose your kid once, shame on you. Lose your kid twice, seriously reevaluate your parenting skills.

Anyway, parenting skills rant aside, let's see what this kid has been up to! Well, obviously he's not a kid anymore. He's actually turning 32 this year. Around 1994, Mr. Culkin stopped acting. Like most child-stars, he basically dropped off the face of the earth. But fear not, this is America. We love a comeback. Just ask Britney Spears. While Macauly hasn't had quite the successful comeback, he's still grabbing headlines.

Did you know Macauly dated Mila Kunis? Yes, that Mila Kunis. Not only did they date, they dated for eight years. Eight years is basically the equivalent to fifty-six years when you're counting in Hollywood. (It's like dog years; you just multiply by seven). Like most Hollywood splits, it was "amicable." We'll chalk it up to the age old divorce cop out "irreconcilable differences." More likely though, she reached A-list status with Black Swan and decided to dump this C-list chum. Poor kid. 

Very recently, Macauly made headlines for appearing way too thin:
Photo from Entertainment Tonight
According to his rep, he is fine. Looks like we have a rather subjective view of fine. It seems someone was left Home Alone for a little too long. I think he could afford to indulge in a Twinkie or two. (Or seven). Well, let's hope he gets well soon. I'd love to see a Home Alone trilogy. Have no fear, if Britney Spears can get through 2007, Macauly can get well too. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Memory Mondays: I was born to be an English major.

Little Courtney Writing Her First Novel
I remember calling my Mom some time last year in order to inform her that I had finally decided on a major. When I blurted out that I was going to become an English major, she retorted, "well, I'm not surprised." I fortunately dogged the age old question, "what are you going to do with that?"

Thinking back, it seems that the signs were always there. Take for example my favorite childhood film, Beauty and the Beast. Disney released Beauty and the Beast the year before I was born. In an effort to build our VHS collection of Disney Classics, my parents quickly purchased it before I could even recognize what a movie was. I remember I used to watch that film over and over. This was when we had to actually rewind films. I'm sure I completely wore that VHS tape out. I absolutely idolized the film's heroine, Belle. Not only was she pretty, but she shared my love of books. My favorite scene is definitely when the Beast unveils his sweet surprise to Belle: a huge library filled with thousands of books. I wanted that library. I still want that library. As a huge reader, it's going to be a perquisite for any future home.

I've just always been a reader. Most parents punish their children by sending them to the dreaded corner of silence otherwise known as time out. Some resort to a firm spanking. My parents were different. They took away my bedtime stories if I ever misbehaved. All it took was the mere threat of losing my beloved bedtime story, and I would instantly behave.

Eventually, my love of reading gave way to my passion for writing. Fun fact: I won a poetry award in third grade. It was an angst filled poem that could only come from the mind of an eight year old. It's rather ridiculous, and much to my dismay, my mother has it framed somewhere. How embarrassing. I would most definitely say I've grown since then, not just in height but as a writer...hopefully. If not, that's what my major is for! As an answer to the original question of what I'm going to do with that, I respond, "I'm going to do what I've always enjoyed." 

May all your memories be meaningful,

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Millennial Memories - An Introducion

Hi, I am the girl who still thinks the 1990s were about ten years ago. The one who grew up watching the golden age of Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. I am the girl who has an irrational fear of Furbies. The one who was torn between wanting to grow up to be either a Disney Princess or the Pink Ranger. I am Courtney Guth, and this is my personal residence on Memory Lane.
Photo Credit:
According to social scientist mumbo jumbo, I am a Millennial, better known as Generation Y. This means I was born somewhere between the late 1980s to the mid 1990s. I am a baby of the baby boomers. My generation is more culturally liberal and less responsive to religion. We have grown up with technology, and witnessed many changes.

As I approach my 20th birthday, this is my chance to re-examine my childhood and all the memories that came with it. So, join me on this stroll down memory lane. You'll find some snippets from my past, a few fad flashbacks, and answers to those burning questions like "who let the dogs out?!"