Columns & Series 32 results

Pop Culture Decoder: Sexy Halloween

Why the media recycle the same damn story every October By Misty Harris Halloween is surely the most frustrating night of the year for actual hookers – and the riskiest one for men seeking their company. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention in the last two decades. And yet. Every October, it’s the same thing: newspapers, media sites and TV news stations all clamour to report on the sexualization of Halloween. While they aren’t necessarily wrong in identifying this phenomenon, it’s hardly news. At this point, “sexy Halloween” falls into the same class as Nicki Minaj’s butt: significant, but nothing we haven’t seen before.* So why does the media keep recycling the same story, year after year? Let’s decode. Low-hanging fruit: We all know that sex sells. And in reports on the tawdriness of Halloween, sexual imagery is practically a journalistic requirement! Not featuring photo evidence would be akin to reporting ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Mom Boobs

Laying bare the effects that parenthood can have on the pointer sisters By Misty Harris You know how after performing a lot of hard work, you exhale all remaining volume from your chest, slump over and just surrender to gravity? The same goes for breasts after having a child. My breasts, anyway. Like weary warriors retreating from battle, they have been deflated. First, there were the rigours of pregnancy, which saw the twins change size more times than Jonah Hill. Then there were nine months of breastfeeding a tiny human, who paid them roughly the same respect a cheetah does a gazelle. And, finally, there was the post-nursing weight fluctuation, which saw my lady lumps take on so many different appearances, they’ve been cast in the next Transformers movie. But because this is a column about decoding, specifics are needed. With that in mind, let’s abandon all propriety and break down the reasons that “mom boobs” are a thing.* Biology: Although breastfeeding ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Cosmetic Dermatology

Misty Harris suffers the horrors of Thermage so you don't have to By Misty Harris I always intended to grow old gracefully, like Audrey Hepburn or a chunk of parmesan cheese. Things did not go as planned. Around the time I turned 30, a collection of creases made camp on my face – the human equivalent of rings on a tree – and proceeded to mock my age every time I looked in a mirror. Now, I’ve never thought of myself as vain, but I also never thought I’d look between my eyebrows and see skin pleats that resembled a vagina. So there’s that. This is how, about four years ago, I wound up forking over nearly two weeks’ salary for Thermage – a cosmetic dermatology procedure that proved so traumatic, I’m only just now able to discuss it. My consultation went something like this: A physician identifying himself as Dr. Bob* (in the grand tradition of quackery, he omitted his last name) escorted me into his office and asked me to describe my “most urgent” ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Why Cilantro is the Devil

Cilantro has more enemies than Cersei Lannister; Misty Harris breaks down the reasons By Misty Harris There’s an old chestnut about never discussing politics, religion or money at the dinner table. To that list I would respectfully add cilantro, an herb more divisive than the finale of How I Met Your Mother.   I don’t pretend to be an unbiased journalist on this matter. My personal feeling about cilantro is that it’s the Donald Trump of herbs: too loud, always showing up in places you don’t want it, leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The flavour experience can best be described as an unholy marriage between Thrills gum and an old penny – both plucked from the mouth of a rotting corpse.   So before you continue reading today’s Decoder, please remember that it’s not nonpartisan; I’m coming at cilantro with the extreme prejudice of someone who has just bitten into an oatmeal-raisin cookie thinking that it was chocolate-chip. The struggle is ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Pregnancy

Misty Harris deciphers why society is obsessed with pregnant women By Misty Harris People love pregnancy news, which is perhaps why the tabloids are constantly making it up (a good rule is that even if “multiple sources” confirm a celebrity pregnancy, the story is not to be believed unless one of those sources is the woman’s pee stick). To observe this cultural obsession is to assume that having a baby is a kind of superpower – which, in a way, I suppose it is; pregnant women are like NFL players in their capacity to get away with almost anything.   As for why the intrigue prevails after all this time, well, that’s a question for this week’s Decoder. Let’s make like Amanda Bynes and jump into a breakdown:   Housing a human is badass: It’s impossible to overstate the awe factor of knowing that a living being is growing inside someone; just ask the producers of the Alien movies, who are probably still counting their money. Regardless of ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Why I hate 21 Day Fix

Misty Harris longs to shed the dead weight of dieters from social media By Misty Harris I loathe 21 Day Fix with the fire of 1,000 Hades suns. Not because I’ve actually tried the fad diet, mind you; I have not. I hate it with the special kind of aversion reserved for things so repellent,* you know without a second thought that they’re not for you (think KFC’s Double Down Dog, or Donald Trump’s presidential bid).   Some background: 21 Day Fix is a “lifestyle” program marketed by Beachbody, the multinational responsible for P90X, Insanity, Focus T25 and other previous fitness/diet crazes. People pay to go on it, lose weight, then are given the option to become “coaches” – that is, recruiting others to buy into the program – in exchange for commissions and a company discount.   In summary: Friend goes on the Fix Friend posts fitness and food statuses five times a day on every social media account, and urges you to join his or her ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Top 10 Excuses to See Magic Mike XXL

Misty Harris finds socially acceptable reasons to see summer’s bulging tentpole By Misty Harris With the Magic Mike XXL debut just around the corner, haters are dialling up the discontent to a full Nancy Grace. Their main critique is that while the Soderbergh-directed original was dark and provocative, the sequel appears to be little more than a big-budget manspoitation film.   Incidentally, this is the precise reason I’ve already purchased tickets. The tentpole is real, people, and it looks spectacular.   On that note, today’s Decoder lays bare the Top 10 socially acceptable excuses to #ComeAgain for Magic Mike. Haters, consider yourselves warned.   1. Supporting the arts: This time around, the dance portion of the movie looks to be as enhanced as Joe ‘Big Dick Richie’ Manganiello (if you haven’t seen the trailer, it’s as if Step Up and Flashdance had a baby and named it Ab Flex). Getting your culture on has never looked ...

The Power of Makeup / Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup

Misty Harris plumbs two viral videos, and explains why cosmetics should be approached like sex  

Pop Culture Decoder: Children’s Books

Misty Harris deciphers the hidden messages in beloved kids’ tales to discover the secret meaning of Green Eggs and Ham, and Robert Munsch's ode to Psycho By Misty Harris Read the same children’s books night after night AFTER NIGHT and two things are likely to come to mind: suicide, and questions about what the respective authors were really trying to say.   From Lewis Carroll to C.S. Lewis, scribes of children’s literature are notorious for hiding political, religious and even mathematical messages in plain sight. Is this also true of more straightforward titles such as Everyone Poops and Mortimer? I watched enough Carmen Sandiego as a kid to feel comfortable playing gumshoe on this one.* Let’s detect!   Green Eggs and Ham: If you push something bland and unappetizing on people long enough, they’ll relent and accept it – a timeless message that explains everything from reality TV to the endurance of Gwyneth Paltrow.   Love You Forever: ...

Pop Culture Decoder: American Ninja Warrior

Misty Harris breaks down the appeal of TV’s best competition show that's basically the sports equivalent of dating George Clooney between 1994 and 2013 By Misty Harris American Ninja Warrior is summer’s best competition show that sounds like it was named by a six-year-old who just watched his first Chuck Norris movie. The series features increasingly grueling obstacle courses designed to test the mettle of America’s top athletes, and to shame everyone watching from their couch at home (those who can’t do, watch).   A part of me, childishly, wants to hate ANW for its hyperventilating celebration of all the people who would’ve picked me last in gym class. But as much as I’m a bitter old wannabe who can’t touch her toes, I find myself impervious to the charms of this show – the seventh season of which premieres May 25.   Contestants train like fiends year-round, will often wait days to audition, and have less fat in their entire bodies than I have ...