Sexuality of Women in Renault Commercials & Modern Oblivion

Is it a demented sign of acceptance when lesbian couplings can be depicted in car commercials? The commercial for the Renault Twingo Miss Sixty — a car seemingly marketed at women because it has floral decals on the exterior and comes in a girly shade of metallic pink — features two women at a party who make eye contact and the next thing you know, they’re stripping down in a bedroom and one is blindfolding the other. Then, the next thing you know, the one who was doing the blindfolding sneaks off and takes the other girl’s top and then you see her wearing the top and walking out to her car, which is the same color as the appropriated top. Watch the video for a clearer understanding:

On one hand, yay for not being afraid to depict lesbians in a tv commercial. Treat it as the normal thing that it is. It shouldn’t even be remotely surprising to see gays and lesbians depicted in commercials; it should be as normal as seeing heterosexual people depicted. I figure the more stuff like this happens, the more accepted it will all become and we’ll move away from the hatred and fear.

On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t just a salacious way to get attention, in the way that many commercials often sexualize women as a way to get attention. Particularly when the commercial tells you nothing about the item being sold. Admittedly, the car is being marketed to women, somehow in conjunction with the Miss Sixty brand of clothing, so I suppose they’re less likely to be trying to appeal to men through a bit of nudge nudge wink wink.

For now, I’ll just be happy that at least an implied lesbian relationship can be shown on tv in a commercial. Well, not in Italy. In one of the more hypocritical moves, Silvio Berlusconi’s media companies have banned the commercial. I’ll let that sink in for a minute. The numerous media companies owned by Berlusconi — the prime minister of Italy, who is currently facing a variety of charges stemming from having sex with a underage prostitute — think the commercial isn’t right for Italian television. Have you ever seen Italian television or even some of the poster ads at bus stops there? Yeah …

*For what it’s worth, I was stuck on the title for this post and decided to turn to Leo Steinberg for inspiration and borrowed (tongue in cheek) from his Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and Modern Oblivion.

Upycling

In regard to my last post, I just wanted to add a brief thought …

I’m watching Michael Palin’s New Europe and it drives home my appreciation for how old buildings — like the one from 1584 that I posted earlier — are still used in day-to-day life here. They’re not just museums. It’s wonderful that these old buildings are still strong enough to stand up to everyday life and are just a part of life, even 400+ years later. Talk about recycling!

Water Engineering

Dutch Design
The Discovery channel recently aired an episode about the Rotterdam port on the show called Extreme Engineering (Build It Big is the title in the US, I believe). The program discussed the ways in which Dutch engineers were building new land to expand the port, which is one of the busiest in the world. By taking sand from the sea bed, they’re able to build new, stable land to add about three square miles to the port. They’re expanding the Netherlands without having to invade any other countries! Impressive!

The Dutch are experts at land/water management, not surprising considering many parts of the country are built below sea level. In fact, while we were out driving around last week, we noticed a few times that the water in the canals next to the road was actually higher than the road. It felt like I was back in New Orleans. The Dutch are such experts, that they helped build the Palm Islands in Dubai (hopefully they got paid first) and helped expand Singapore, and are world leaders in dredging and land expansion.

We got our own little close-up view of the behind-the-scenes workings of Dutch management of land and water a couple of weeks ago. As we were trying to find Prins Hendriklaan to make our way to the Rietveld-Schröder House, we soon came across a dead end. Prins Hendriklaan was under some construction. In fact, the road was missing for about a block.
Dutch Engineering
It may not look quite so impressive, other than just a big hole in the ground, until you realize that the road intersects a canal. If you look closely to the left of the following photo, just behind the red machine, runs the canal.
Water and Earth
The street doesn’t form a bridge over the canal. It completely blocks the canal at that point. The canal then starts up again to the right.

It’s interesting to see the physical structures that go into maintaining a balance between land and water. It’s even more interesting to know that there’s a long history and tradition behind these structures. If you get a chance to see the Science/Discovery Channel program, I recommend it. It’s truly impressive on multiple levels.

Foto Vrijdag 2.28

The End
World Cup Celebrations
This is a bit of a World Cup wrap-up edition of Photo Friday. I’m still going through a bit of withdrawal from not having regular matches to watch, and yes, I’m still a bit sad about the outcome. And that’s all I’ll say on that. After all, judging from the parade/party that took place on Tuesday in Amsterdam, you’d never know we got silver instead of gold. There was a huge boat parade of the Dutch team through some of the canals of Amsterdam, with people following along in their own boats, or lining the canals for a view.
Swarm
Dutch Football Team

They even watched from the rooftops.
Oranje Bedankt

The players were having a good time, as well.
Van Bommel en Sneijder
Dirk Kuyt

After the boat tour, they ended up at the Museumplein for another massive orange party.
Museumplein
Oranje Zee
Oranjegekte
It was a fun party to watch, even just on tv. (Yes, I took photos of the television, but it was to help my non-Netherlands-living readers get a better idea of just what kind of party went on!)
For a better feel for it all, here’s a video someone made with clips from the televised festivities.

Giro D’Italia in Utrecht

25 To Go
Just a quick follow-up on the Giro D’Italia that came through Utrecht yesterday. Around mid-day I took Pippo out for his mid-day break and saw that the excitement was definitely starting to build. More and more people were out, especially for a Sunday, and the barriers were out lining the main street through town, down which the racers would pass. All, and I do mean all, of the Italian shops were open and making the most of it! Italian flags were flying, banners were out, specials were on offer. Even our Italian neighbors had hung the Italian flag outside their window. (G’s not that patriotic, so we have no flag to fly.)

A little later, G and I went out to wander around a bit further and see what was going on down at the Neude. We saw the 25km-to-go marker (above) over by Janskerkhof and as the road was still open to cyclists, many people passing under the 25km gate seemed to enjoy pretending a moment of greatness, riding through it with arms in the air. Further down, we found a huge crowd of all ages over at the Neude. There were lots of Red Bull marketing items, including some sort of bouncy toy for kids, but there were also beer stands for the adults. ;) Naturally, there was a large screen so that people could watch the race while enjoying the festivities.
Neude Feest
We didn’t stick around for long, though, because Italian that he is, G wanted to get back home to see the Bologna football (soccer) match that was on that afternoon. It was an important match, after all; Bologna secured its spot in Serie A for next season and doesn’t have to worry about relegation now. It was a close thing. So while he was stressing over the Bologna match, I was watching the bicycle race on tv with my parents. The race would be passing by the end of our street, so I wanted to keep a close eye to make sure I could get down there in time to watch, but still be able to watch most of it on tv. As they got closer, I set the tv to record and finally with about a minute to go, G, my dad and I hurried down the street and then rushed to find a free spot in order to see the racers speed by.
Giro D'Italia

Chase Group

Go Speed Racer
Lousy photos, I know, and that was with the sports/action setting turned on! They went so fast! Watching tv, it looked like there were a lot more of them, but when they passed in person, it looked like a much smaller group. We really did see all of them, though! Blink and you’d miss them is what it felt like. We were surprised at just how fast it was; we were also surprised at just how many support vehicles bring up the rear! I got video of the last few racers and most of the support vehicles, along with a few shots of the helicopters hovering overhead.

Unfortunately, despite recording it, we didn’t get to see the part we were at on tv, because one of the racers had fallen earlier and they were showing him rather than the tiny bit where we were! Still, we recognized Biltstraat and some of the other areas in town, which was kind of exciting.

One of my favorite moments of the whole experience is probably when the last two police went past on bicycle. All of the racers and support vehicles and everything else had gone by, and then these two lone police officers rode past and as they approached, the crowd started cheering in much the same way as they did when the racers themselves arrived. It was a nice moment of group-think humor and even the police seemed to get a laugh out of it.

Den Haag Is Where?!


We generally watch BBC News at 6 p.m., and CNN’s International Desk at 7 p.m. to get our nightly news fix. Last night, while watching CNN, the show presenter was talking about what they would be discussing after the break. The topic was Karadzic’ trial in Den Haag (The Hague). The presenter said something along the lines of, “Up next, news from Belgium about the trial of Karadzic.”

*crickets*

Belgium?

Who knew Den Haag was in Belgium?! It turns out I’ve been to Belgium and I didn’t even know it! That’s where we bought out sideboards! I must say, though, the border crossing is not well-marked at all. ;) Giovanni and I had to laugh about it, because we’re always half joking that the Netherlands never gets mentioned on CNN, even for the weather. So now, when they have reason to mention the country, they still manage to avoid it by saying that the International Tribunal is in Belgium. Oy! I know it was a slip of the tongue, but even worse, he didn’t even correct himself after the break.

I Be Trippin’

Thanks to Aga, one of the lovely people who actually reads this blog, I recently received the opportunity to start blogging for Trippist.com, a site designed to help visitors to the Netherlands find out about some of the events going on throughout the country. It started primarily focusing on Amsterdam — what else is new — but they’ve been branching out and I get to do my bit for Utrecht.

Today marks my first post — for those who know my art history background, you won’t be surprised that my first post is about an art exhibit — and I should be posting a few times a week from here on out. Surprising how gut-churning it was to actually click the “publish” button! Despite years spent working in publishing, it’s always a bit nerve-wracking to send stuff out for public consumption. This blog doesn’t count; it’s just me rambling.

Hopefully, as I try to get out and visit some of the events myself, I might have more to write about here on a slightly more regular basis. I blame the recent heatwave and an allergy attack for the lack of recent posts here. That and my recent introduction to True Blood, the tv series. It’s Louisiana vampires; of course I’m going to watch! I didn’t live in New Orleans and get an Anne Rice book autographed for nothin’! ;)

Bigger Than I Thought

The inaugural concert at Lincoln Memorial is being aired live on tv here. Not on CNN International, either, it’s on one of the “networks”. I’m honestly slightly surprised that it’s being aired, but it’s kind of cool that it is.

That said, why waste Herbie Hancock by pairing him with Sheryl Crow and Will.I.Am? Tsk.

I will, of course, be watching the actual inauguration on Tuesday.

Random Observation

You know how they start Mythbusters (and the return from most commercial breaks) with Jamie and Adam saying not to try this at home? I don’t remember seeing that at all when it’s aired here. Of further random interest, here, the voiceover is also done by someone with a British accent.

For that matter, Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations doesn’t seem to start with the parental advisory warning here, either.

As much as people (Americans) complain about the nanny-state of Europe, Americans are the ones more protective and obsessive, in many ways. As a very minor example, the drinking age here is 16 for beer (and wine, I think) and 18 for hard liquor. With as many university students as there are around here, I still haven’t personally seen anything that would make me question that age limit. I haven’t even seen them in the bars, really, although the ones we go to tend to have a slightly older clientel — you know, my age.

I’ve just spent a lovely evening sitting here on our terrace, enjoying a nice bottle of red and watching the latest episodes (don’t ask how) of Project Runway (Project Catwalk, as it’s called here) and No Reservations (the Spain episode) and having a wonderful time. It’s beautiful weather, and there are people in the building next to us enjoying the terrace weather, as well. As the Italians would say, la dolce vita! Oddly enough, it’s only 10:30 p.m., according to my computer, but the clock is chiming. Maybe it’s a half-hour chime.

Scotland in the Netherlands

As I’m sitting here as the clock moves close to 4 p.m., the church bell chimes that play a variety of different songs before each hour is currently playing Auld Lang Syne.

On a similar train of thought, we watched some of the Military Tattoo from this year on TV the other evening, followed by a bit of this year’s Proms. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was performing pieces by Prokofiev.