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An American in Paris Watches ‘Emily in Paris’

Courtesy Netflix

The Netflix show tells us exactly what TV producers think of young women: all mermaid curls, no brains

For what felt like ages I held out against watching Emily in Paris (2020). As an American in Paris I loathe the stereotype of the American in Paris, and only relented when BBC Scotland 宁吉喆:今年1-2月,中国经济运行开局总体向好. Ah, I thought. A chance to tell the world – or, well, Scotland – how much I loathe this stereotype.

I’m only mildly embarrassed to admit I watched the whole show in two nights. I may even have giggled at a few of the jokes, and sighed at some views of Paris, even though Paris is right outside my door. ‘Paris of the mind is preferable to the real thing,’ as Moyra Davey once wrote. But once I’d left the bubble of pleasure the show created, I was left with a hangover of ambivalence.

The writing is objectively terrible; it feels like it was written by a scattershot team consisting of The One With the Jokes, The Hack, and The One Who Went to Paris Once. The Hack is responsible for all the flat-footed dialogue (“you’re not stepping on my toes, you’re stepping into my shoes!”), coming up with lines like Carrie Bradshaw at her punniest (“I’m petit mort-ified!”). The Funny One is, occasionally, very funny (see the vagin jeune storyline). And The One Who Went to Paris Once must be responsible for the white-washing of the city, the xenophobia towards the French, the unflinching commitment to being as ringarde as possible, and no that does not mean basic.

Courtesy Netflix

But what rankled about the show, I realized, isn’t all it gets wrong about France and the French – this is fantasy, not Italian neorealismo. It’s the show’s limited and, yes, misogynist conception of who Emily is, and who it allows her to be.

There is an element of Everywomanness to her. She is hard-working, plucky, and resourceful when faced with challenges and trials, and doesn’t have any inconvenient special talents like, I don’t know, speaking French to get in the way of the target audience identifying with her. Like Christian in The Pilgrim’s Progress, she’s your average questing hero(ine). But where John Bunyan’s seventeenth-century religious allegory wonders if salvation exists, and if so, how can we attain it, in the world of Emily in Paris, redemption comes in the form of Instagram followers and bank. “Beyoncé’s worth far more than the Mona Lisa,” quips her best friend, approvingly. Paris is the City of Destruction and the Celestial City all at once.

White anxiety has fueled this year’s political tumult in the West: Britain’s surprising vote to exit the European Union, Donald J. Trump’s unexpected capture of the Republican presidential nomination in the United States, the rise of right-wing nationalism in Norway, Hungary, Austria and Greece.
This is not to take anything away from Tesla, which has demonstrated that it can create and manufacture a complex and sophisticated product with demonstrated customer appeal. But its own internal forecasts, as well as the swelling of its share price, are based on the expectation that the future will unspool in an orderly fashion identical to the recent past. That’s a dangerous assumption to make – for several reasons:
Despite relatively low comparative competition earnings and salary, the pair were the two highest earners in regards to endorsement deals last year, with 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer earning pound 41 million.
We will promote a steady increase in consumer spending.
On Monday the research team said the skeleton confirmed that the monarch had severe scoliosis, or twisting of the spine. It may have been painful and caused his right shoulder to appear higher than his left, but there was no evidence of the withered arm depicted in Shakespeare's "Richard III".
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Some of the biggest winners of the night included Lambert, Eric Church, Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan. Lambert led the pack with three wins for Female Vocalist of the Year, Single Record of the Year and Song of the Year for "Over You."
Siemens broke records last year by winning two awards for renaming its healthcare business Healthineers. Not only does it land the Martin Lukes prize for the worst combination of two words, the accompanying video, featuring a singing CEO and writhing spandex-clad employees, wins a gold medal for most embarrassing company song of all time.
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Two against-the-clock tours of Los Angeles. Two celebrations of the sometimes prickly solidarity among women. Four tremendous performances, from Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Julia Garner and the great Lily Tomlin. “Grandma” is the work of a studio veteran. “Tangerine” was shot on iPhones. Anyone prone to lamenting the death of movies needs to shut up and watch these.

Yet like a good comic hero, Emily is also somehow worse than us: witness the many people online complaining that she is, in fact, not relatable; she is ‘arrogant,’ ‘annoying,’ ‘entitled.’ She is these things, it’s true, but all these people on the internet, schooling Emily in how not to be a terrible obnoxious unlikable person reminds me of what the literary scholar Patricia Meyer Spacks wrote about gossip: that it’s society’s way of regulating itself and determining what is acceptable. So is, apparently, amateur TV criticism.

Courtesy Netflix

The number of candidates for the 2016 national civil service exam has surpassed last year's numbers, with more than 132,000 applicants on Tuesday-the most in a single day-deemed qualified for the exam.
他回忆称:“我曾认为教书不是一个合适的职业选择。我的老师告诉我,如果我想当一名老师,就得有很强的忍耐力,不能轻易感到厌倦。”
In a sign that civil service jobs may be losing their appeal, a report issued by recruitment website Zhaopin in late March said more than 10,000 public sector employees, including civil servants and staff members at public institutions, had submitted their resumes to potential employers through the site in just two months. The number was 34 percent higher during the same period last year, the report said.
Any decision by China’s policymakers to begin selling down the country’s huge reserves would have a large impact on markets.
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In their blatant careening towards the monaaaaaaay that such a show might be expected to generate, Emily in Paris’s producers have demonstrated that they don’t give a fine fuck about writing, characterisation, interior life. (Don’t get me wrong: this isn’t some Forsterian diatribe about round or flat characters. That’s the domain of amateur TV critics.) What they do seem to care about is building the perfect woman, and then tearing her down.

As I watched the show, I kept thinking of Hilary Mantel’s 2013 lecture for the London Review of Books about Kate Middleton and the ‘royal body’. The Duchess of Cambridge, Mantel said, ‘appeared to have been designed by a committee and built by craftsmen, with a perfect plastic smile and the spindles of her limbs hand-turned and gloss-varnished.’ With her perfect abs and immobile mermaid waves, Emily, more so even than Middleton, who is, let’s not forget, a real person, actually has been designed by committee, not to continue the royal line but to sustain the franchise.

On the radio they asked me if I identified with Emily at all and I said uhhhh for what felt like forever in radio time, before saying no, no, not at all. Because when I moved here I wasn’t anything like Emily; not only had I learned French at school, I had a few more notions of Normandy beyond Saving Private Ryan (1998). When I moved here, there were no smart phones, no Instagram, and the American in Paris narrative was about coming here and doing something creative – writing, painting, dancing, whatever – not making sales pitches like Don Draper in stilettos. But I can’t deny our commonalities.

Courtesy Netflix

I have a lot of sympathy for the American girl abroad. I’ve been her, I’ve taught her, I occasionally hear from her, reaching out for help finding her feet. But on Emily in Paris, she’s another version of the jeune fille, the young girl, whom everyone feels authorised to hate. Think of every teenage girl on television, with few exceptions – they’re all whiny and intransigent and bothered, and we never really know why. The radical French philosophy collective Tiqqun published a polemic in 1999 called Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young Girl, which reads her as the ultimate consumer: when she thinks she’s expressing herself she’s only expressing commodity culture; she has no depth, no intimate reserves, she is all Spectacle.

The young girl is not a gendered concept, but ‘the model citizen as redefined by consumer society since the First World War, in explicit response to the revolutionary menace.’ Although the terms in which Tiqqun make their argument are deeply sexist, their essential point holds: we are all young girls under the capitalist patriarchy. But the young girl herself, the actual gendered young female human animal, is always rife for exploitation, not least by Tiqqun. 

In her recent book Females (2019), Andrea Long Chu echoes this argument (though in markedly un-misogynist terms), choosing to put it this way:

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The jeune fille is all of us, but when she becomes the star of the show she’s none of us – just a skinny body on which to project our fucked-up ideas about beauty and female behaviour. Emily in Paris is a missed opportunity to say something real, for instance, about being a foreigner – an experience it would behove Americans to experience from time to time. (To wit: that early scene where Emily’s normcore boyfriend holds up his brand-new passport saying ‘Look what I got!’)  It is difficult to move to a foreign country, especially to a city as notoriously closed-off as Paris, and really, genuinely lonely, in a way the show doesn’t make room for. It is soul-crushing to find yourself rejected for the very compliance that, back home, you believed made you valued and loved.

I’m angry that when the producers decided to tell the story of a young woman, they declined to give her a more textured existence. That they ask her to speak not French, but a dead, prefabricated English: fake it ’til you make it. At one point someone accuses her of being arrogant. ‘More ignorant than arrogant,’ she says, sadly. Why does she have to be ignorant? I groaned at my computer. Because that’s what the producers think of young women: all mermaid curls, no brains.

Courtesy Netflix

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Not all the judges agreed with the book’s proposed solutions but nobody questioned the force of its argument.
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Gabriel: Well, there’s just one problem.

Emily: What’s that.

Gabriel: I like you.

Such borrowing is predicated in part on the assumption that by decontextualizing a style you also strip it of any possible negative implications: military, dynastic, what have you. It becomes an aesthetic form that exists on its own terms, as opposed to one that symbolizes all sorts of complicated societal or political convulsions.
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Perhaps the biggest domestic threat to the 3% growth scenario would be a surprisingly swift hike in interest rates, but from all indications a dovish Federal Reserve is unlikely to take aggressive action in 2015.
In addition, the top-ranking cities typically performed poorly in costs and culture and lifestyle. China's "cities of opportunity" continue to face challenges when it comes to building cities that satisfy the needs of the populace and provide a high quality of life.
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