A Million Girls Would Kill for This Job

miranda priestley - meryl streep - the devil wears prada

I watched The Devil Wears Prada last Saturday. I’d seen the film on “dibidi” but I still wanted to watch it on the big screen just so I could further gawk at the fabulous garb worn by its characters. Based on Lauren Weisberger’s 2003 novel, the film features Meryl Streep as Runway magazine’s editrix-in-chief Miranda Priestley and Anne Hathaway as Andrea Sach, Priestley’s personal assistant, a job a million girls would kill for.

The film is a lot different from the novel although it still stayed true to the spirit of the story. Interestingly, it’s actually Miranda that one could sympathize with while at the same time realizing that a big part of the character is sadly contemptible. Streep cleverly reimagined the character from the book’s Anna Wintour-inspired fashion editor to a breathy American career-obsessed boss whose own manner of putting someone in her proper place can be reduced into two words: That’s all! Well, that and staring you down should you happen to be wearing grandma’s unfashionable blue sweater.

With all the trappings of glamour, it’s easy to fall in love–or at least believe in the idea of being in-love–with Andrea’s job. Being dolled up is a requirement and budget is never an issue: one could always run to the magazine’s “closet”, every fashionista’s haven of mouthwatering clothes, shoes and bags showcase. Andrea’s story has many parallels in real-world careers: fresh grads forsaking their dream professions for first jobs that while pay well, hardly provide them the intellectual challenge for which they toiled through four years of college. There are jobs and there are jobs that one takes to pay the rent.

Even while reading the book, which seems to me less glamorous than the movie version, I can’t help telling myself that I just might kill for Andy’s job. While her work is less journalism and more of fasion, it is still publishing (which I think deserves emphasis in journalism schools even just as an elective–not all journalism graduates want to be reporters although they still want to be involved in publishing). My first job was with a women’s magazine. Unlike Andy, we were required to wear “smart casual” which was actually a pairing of slacks and a top that was anything that was not a T-shirt. No rubber shoes allowed. What meager, below-minimum-wage salary I earned on my first two months had to be spent on following the company’s dress code. We didn’t have clothing allowance.

anne hathaway - the devil wears prada

Unlike Andy, who runs errands for Miranda in a town car, gets invited to parties just for being Miranda’s gatekeeper and gets to keep her fashion stash, I and my friend and colleague, Tina, had to pick up clothes, shoes and accessories from stores in Makati all the way from Cubao. Back then, traffic jam along EDSA was at its worst since the MRT was still being constructed. We were not allowed to take cabs unless the worth of the merchandise which we had to use for fashion shoots was more than the combined salary of the staff. Otherwise, we had to take those clunky tin cans on wheels parading as buses to and from the stores while lugging bagfuls of clothes and shoes.

To drive home the point that we, the EAs, were at the bottom of the foodchain, not even the security guards would offer assistance to help us carry the stuff from the gates to our second-floor office, which was a good walking distance away in the first place. Tina reached her boiling point when she had to open the heavy sliding iron gates by herself while carrying SIX huge Louis Vuitton suitcases as the guards were idly watching by. The slightest tear on any of the suitcases would cost her four months of pay. I failed to replace a price tag on an 800-peso (roughly $20 back then) dress once and I received an earful from a stores manager like I should pay for the crime with my life. I wanted to scream that my ukay finds look so much better than her rags, but of course I shouldn’t. On an occasion that I could not replace a typewriter’s (!!!) ribbon because the purchasing department couldn’t give me the supply, the editor berated me in front of my colleagues supposedly for not taking her seriously. Her secretary who witnessed it later gave me her extra ribbon for which she still owns a portion of my soul.

Oh yes, computer-to-employee ratio was 4:1 and internet access required a password that could only be supplied by the EIC, the managing editor, and the chief artist. Nobody did the WWW thing unless it was absolutely necessary. We had to work for 6 days a week and had to stay on beyond the required eight hours during fashion shoots. On out-of-town assignments, I had to buy supplies and pack everything that was needed for the shoot until midnight and be back at work by 4:30 AM. I had to pawn my own life for the security of the model, especially if she was some upcoming mestiza teenage starlet whose mom was ten million times nicer than the spawn.

After four months at the magazine, we both knew that it was not the job we would kill for, but that it could just kill us. And we were simply too young and way too virginal to die. Thank God, the title folded up in less than a year and in spite of being out of job for a month, we were happy to not return to the publishing house that still asked us to work as account managers. I believe life’s so much different in fashion magazines nowadays. Our lives are so much different nowadays.

And so back to the book and movie, I can’t help but wonder what all the whining is about. There are tough jobs and there are those that suck absolutely. If this were in real life, Andrea just might have finished her one-year tenure instead of telling Miranda to naff off, the latter’s seeing a bit of herself in the assistant, notwithstanding. At least she gets to keep the shoes.

The Tipping Point

Malcolm Gladwell‘s phenomenal book, The Tipping Point. Having encountered the phrase “tipping point” in many magazine, news and blog articles as it had become a by-word among writers, economists and analysts, I thought I’d better buy the book to better understand the subject. I made the right decision. I have finally found time to make a short review of

Gladwell’s work is a gem. It explains how trends and phenomena happen, the processes and people involved, and how small changes can influence large sections of societies. It reaffirms the idea that humans are profoundly social animals that affect, and are affected by, their immediate environments.

Tipping Point is when “an idea, trend or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire” among societies. A social phenomenon has three dimensions, namely, people, stickiness and context.

There are three kinds of people that start off trends: (1) connectors whose vast expanse of personal connections cover an assortment of social, professional and cultural groups, embodying the adage, “It’s not what you know but who you know”; (2) mavens are basically your know-it-alls who collect knowledge and information about products, services and whatever strikes their fancy; (3) salesmen are those who are gifted with the power of persuasion. All these three have the ability to “click” with nearly anyone who happens by their orbits.

Stickiness, the second dimension, refers to the power of a message to remain with an intended receiver. It not only catches one’s attention, it stays in the mind of the message’s recipient. Stickiness is that little detail that sets the difference between a message’s acceptability and its tendency to be disregarded.

Context is an important factor in tipping point, in that people’s actions and decisions do not happen in a vacuum. Environment not only refers to the physical surroundings but also the actions of others. Epidemics are built upon recurring social issues in the times and places in which such happen. And while there are those who trailblaze, much of humanity still find comfort in acquiescence. Moreover, people’s decisions are often affected by the quality and quantity of the groups to which they belong. The rule of 150 suggests that groups under the size of 150 persons are more effective; beyond 150, personal bonds and lines of communication among members start to deteriorate.

In the end, the tipping point is about that slight change, the small detail, that sets an idea, behavior or product towards wider social acceptance. And the trick lies in finding it.

So We Can’t Hurt Anymore

You won’t see me hanging around like a long lost friend
With my ear glued to some pay phone calling you up again
Cause I’ve had all of the one last times
I’ll crawl in or out that door
And this pointing finger’s all crooked and worn
And it won’t shift the blame no more
We’re out of pictures to hide the fist holes
Covering this bedroom wall
And I’m out of whiskey and I’m so out of touch
That I don’t give a damn at all
And I’m not sure when our love went south
But it left a long time ago
And left us stranded like a dog in the rain
And we keep diggin up old bones
Oh the words we’ve tossed around
Like a leaf in a storm
Until we broke each others hearts so bad
That we can’t hurt anymore
And what a low down crying shame
The walls we build around our souls
Just to protect ourselves from the ones we love
So we can’t hurt anymore.

Jon Randall

Identity Production in a Networked World

Danah Boyd, a PhD student at School of Information (SIMS) at the University of California, Berkeley, presented a paper about how teenagers are using MySpace, which lately has been  receiving a barrage of negative publicity due to the death of a New Jersey teener who fell victim to an online predator whom she met in the biggest social networking site. MySpace boasts of at least 41 million members (including moi!) and is probably the hippest site of its kind as it also features profiles of music artists, downloadable and streaming music, videos and other newfangled widgets that make staring at one’s profile either eye-straining or simply pleasant. The network, which receives more page views than Google, was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp last year for $580 million.

I created a Myspace profile not as a means to hang out but to network, and then eventually for downloading mp3s or getting updates about indie musicians which are a dime a dozen on Myspace. In the short span of time that I’ve been keeping a profile which I visit once in three to four weeks, I’ve experienced receiving a sales pitch, comments on photos, getting-to-know-you and hi-hello private messages. No proposals for sex so far, thank you very much.  Should the occasion arise, it’s best to alert the Myspace team should they be inclined to ban possible sexual predators. At one point, I was a social networking junkie and spent countless hours on Friendster which happened to be the most popular SN site in the country, and chatting with people of similar interest in online forums. However, I’d like to think that I’ve graduated from such pursuits as I find other facets of Web2.0 more interesting.

“So what exactly are teens  doing  on MySpace? Simple: they’re hanging out. Of course, ask any teen what they’re  doing with their friends in general; they’ll most likely shrug their shoulders and respond nonchalantly with “just hanging out.” Although adults often perceive hanging out to be wasted time, it is how youth get socialized into peer groups. Hanging out amongst friends allows teens to build relationships and stay connected. Much of what is shared between youth is culture – fashion, music, media. The rest is simply presence. This is important in the development of a social worldview.

“For many teens, hanging out has moved online. Teens chat on IM for hours, mostly keeping each other company and sharing entertaining cultural tidbits from the web and thoughts of the day. The same is true on MySpace, only in a much more public way. MySpace is both the location of hanging out and the cultural glue itself. MySpace and IM have become critical tools for teens to maintain “full-time always-on intimate communities” [4] where they keep their friends close even when they’re physically separated. Such ongoing intimacy and shared cultural context allows youth to solidify their social groups. “

From: Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth {Heart} MySpace

Just for fun: Pinoy jokes

Some forward from the IBC Badminton egroup. PCs beware. Bato-bato sa langit, ang tamaan sa presinto magpaliwanag. 🙂

Prospective Employer to Applicant: ” So why did you leave your previous job?”
Applicant: ” The company relocated and they did not tell me where!” ______________________________________________________________
Bisaya 1: ” Gara ng kutsi, siguro kay Miyur iyan.”!
Bisaya 2: ” Dili bay!”
Bisaya 1: ” Kay Hipi?”
Bisaya 2: ” Tuntu ka man. Kay FATHER iyan. Gisulat niya sa likud o, “’SAFARI’.”  _____________________________________________________________
Misis: ” Sir, mananawagan po sana ako sa mister ko kasi dinala niya ang limang anak namin.”
Radio Host: ” Ok, go ahead!”
Misis: ” Honey, ibalik mo na ang mga bata, isa lang naman ang sa iyo diyan!”  _____________________________________________________________
Hello! Heto na naman ako. Gulung-gulo ulit ang isip ko. May nais lang sana akong itanong sa inyo. Alam ko matutulungan niyo ako Ang BIRDS FLU ba ay past tense ng BIRDS FLY?  _____________________________________________________________
AMO: sagutin mo ang telepon inday!
INDAY: (baligtad ang hawak) hilo? hilo?
AMO: baligtarin mo!
INDAY: lohi? lohi?
AMO: telepon ang baligtarin mo!
INDAY: Puntili, puntili
______________________________________________________________
Pedro: Galing ako sa doktor, nakabili na ko ng hearing aid. Grabe! ang linaw na ng pandinig ko!
Juan: Talaga?! Magkano bili mo?
Pedro: Kahapon lang
______________________________________________________________
Teacher: We are descendants of Adam and Eve!
Student: That’s not true! My dad sez we are descendants of an Ape!
Teacher: We are not talking about your FAMILY! > > > ______________________________________________________________
KRIMINAL1: “Pare, sigurado ka bang dito dadaan yung papatayin natin?”
KRIMINAL2: “Oo, nagtataka nga ako, 1 oras na tayo dito wala parin siya! Sana naman walang nangyaring masama sa kanya.”