For those of you who are new to my world, let me catch you up to speed; I am absolutely terrified of geese. Every once in awhile, I try to pretend that the geese aren’t scary af, but in the end, I always go right back to remembering that geese are the minions of Satan, and are probably out to get me.
Anywho, I often see these dark creatures of evil while I’m running and I normally turn around and run home. Why? Because I don’t want to die. Duh. But yesterday, I was feeling pretty buoyed by the Oilers big win and wanted to get my 5K in. So, I’m running and feeling all good about myself when up ahead I see…that’s right, the feathered horror itself; Mr. Goose. But, as fate would have it, my playlist switched to the greatest icon of my generation; Britney Spears.
If you’ve lived under a rock, let me bring up to speed: Britney Spears is an icon. Anyone you consider an icon that isn’t Britney means that you are wrong. Deep down, everyone likes Britney Spears. You know that you secretly mouth the lyrics to Baby One More Time when you’re alone. It’s okay. But I digress. So, I’m running, and Britney’s Stronger comes on. Again, I don’t care who you are, if Britney Spears’s Stronger comes on, and you don’t feel like a bad bitch, then who are you really. Suddenly, I’m an invincible goddess, much like Britney. If she can survive 2007, I can survive a damn goose! So I jog right past that feathery fucker and keep on going. I can run 5K. Why? Because I slay. Queen Britney has empowered me.
I’ve always said that music can change your mood. That’s why my running playlist is mostly hard rock, Britney Spears, and also Brie Bella’s entrance music (which is also my ring tone, because it’s the best thing ever).
Stuff like this keeps me pumped up. Unlike Crossfit, where I have coaches and teammates to keep me motivated; I have only myself. Sometimes, I want to just give up early. I’m tired. I’m not feeling it. My hips are sore. Whatever. But I can’t do that or I’ll never progress or get triathlon ready. So, I use music that will elevate my spirits and keep me energized to finish my run, just like I choose music during my day to pick me up. Back to the story, I was doing so well. I was making great time, I had Britney Spears and Brie Mode, I was the fittest person ever. I was fearless guys, FEARLESS. I was almost positive that no goose would scare me off from my run…
Okay, so maybe I wasn’t invincible. But part of life means putting on your big people pants and putting up with stuff we don’t like. For me, it’s geese. Eventually, I’ll get to the point where they aren’t terrifying…or I’ll use my fear to run faster. Maybe.
I was once a catty bitch. I mocked celebrity clothing choices, I criticized women wrestlers who were hired as models, I compared myself to other women. I talked about girls behind their back in high school, etc. But I was an insecure, jealous, girl. I was jealous of the popular girls in high school & in the workplace. I was completely jealous of Gwen Stefani’s seemingly perfect life. In 2011, I was jealous of Brie & Nikki Bella’s looks and success. It wasn’t until I grew up (figuratively) and found myself that I realized that I made these statements because I was jealous and insecure about myself. I was projecting my feelings of self loathing onto them. Now, I can look at Gwen Stefani and see a talented singer. I can look at Brie & Nikki Bella and see hard ass work & women who empower other women. I can respect women who wear what they want. You want to rock those booty shorts? Work! I love seeing other women get up and do their thing & kicking ass at life. But there is one thing that I cannot stand, and that is an unreformed catty bitch.
Recently, my daughter lost her Snapchat privileges. Not because of the reason you would think. It was because I found out that she was insulting other girls by calling them bitches. I want to raise strong women. Strong women don’t call their friends bitches. They don’t belittle each other. They work to build each other up. I won’t allow my daughters to treat their fellow human beings like crap, so until she could learn to speak with respect, she didn’t need social media.
But I see an influx of memes on social media where women criticize other women. They mock each other for wearing makeup, their shorts, their clothes, their marital status, their looks, etc. And every time I see a woman call down another woman, I have only one question;
Like, come on ladies. We have to work twice as hard for half of the recognition and THIS is how you want to treat each other? With this kind of childish name calling?
I mean, we live in a world where we are smashing through glass ceilings. Women can be the CEO of Fortune 500 companies. The most successful athlete in history is Serena Williams, a woman. We are watching a powerful, bad ass woman running for the presidency of the United States and we are still ridiculing each other for who we date, what we wear, whether or not we drank too much at the party & if we are telling the truth about domestic violence. Why are we continuing to belittle each other?
Why are we still having these conversations? It’s 20 freaking 16. So we really want to teach the next generation of women to be catty bitches? I know I don’t. Sorry, but I remember the girl fights in high school, the petty drama & how much I do not want to be part of that anymore, nor do I want my daughters to perpetuate it. And one thing I’ve learned from being a reformed catty bitch is that I’ve been so much more successful now that I’ve stopped worrying about what other women are wearing & doing. Now that I’m not trying to tear down other women, I’m focusing on how I can improve, not how to be better than that bitch. And by competing only with myself, I’m becoming better than I ever was.
The biggest thing that women need to learn is by tearing each other down, we are giving men permission to tear us down. We all sit aghast at the things Donald Trump says about women, but then belittle a coworker in the next breath. By calling a woman a bitch or a slut, or questioning her qualifications to lead a country based on her pantsuit and not her resume, you are basically giving disgusting creatures like Trump the power to say the same thing about all women. When women tear each other apart, we are giving men permission to mistreat us, belittle our abilities, make vulgar and misogynistic statements about us. Every time we call a woman a slut, we are no better than people like Donald Trump.
But mostly, you’re telling the world that you are insecure, petty, jealous & intimidated by the success of others. Why would you want to project that? When you belittle other women, you show people how small and petty you really are. Why not take that energy and put it into making you successful instead of putting down others all of the time? It just seems like a more constructive use of time.
We have the power to be better, treat each other better, and empower each other. Why waste your time and energy bullying each other about things that don’t matter? Every time you put down a woman for her clothes, her hair, her choices & her makeup, whether she chooses a hijab or not, whether she chooses a traditional family or to reject societal norms, you are doing the equivalent of getting angry about someone putting the peppers you don’t like on the sandwich you aren’t going to eat. It’s not your sandwich. Instead of getting mad or calling them down, just eat your own damn sandwich and let the woman enjoy her peppers.
If more women chose to build each other up, we would have more women leaders, more women heroes and more women making history. If we unite, there would be no glass ceilings, as we would have kicked them down decades ago. So, in a world where in five weeks we will (hopefully) see a strong, bad ass, intelligent woman elected the leader of the free world, let’s make a commitment to stand together to end the stereotype that all women hate each other and show future generations that women can empower each other, no matter what we are wearing, thinking, or doing.
This has not been my week. I’ve been sick. I’ve had xrays. It’s actually super shitty. But I will figure this out in a few days & all will be well.
But I refuse to let dark times cloud my awesome life. My life is the raddest. I’ve lost six pounds this month. My gym dues are paid & I can train. My kids got rad report cards. Oh, and I got some much needed time with some friends this week. It was just what I needed.
But enough about my life. Let’s talk about mindless drivel. Today’s mindless drivel is why the WWE Divas Division continues to piss me off.
It has not been since 2014 that WWE has had a true babyface Diva in Brie Bella. Brie was beloved by fans, as they hoped she would defeat the evil Stephanie McMahon & avenge her husband Daniel Bryan & sister Nikki (she didn’t. She was defeated & aligned with Nikki to reign as bad girls in Team Bella & now is used to elevate the NXT Divas).
Since then, all of the dominant women have been stereotypes. Bad girl Nikki Bella. Jealous geeky girl AJ Lee. Manipulative Paige. Daddy’s spoiled brat Charlotte Flair. All until the unexpected rise in popularity of Becky Lynch.
Becky Lynch has gone through many phases since her debut, but the core of her main roster character has remained the same; she wants to be a champion of integrity. Someone little girls can look up to. She wants to win the right way. All three of my daughters watched the Royal Rumble with baited breath, to see if Becky would overtake Charlotte Flair & become the Divas Champion.
Instead, Charlotte’s father forced himself on her, she was pinned in dirty fashion, tossed out of the ring like trash by villainess Sasha Banks & left to sob alone.
As a mom & a feminist, I find it horrifying that male “advocates for women’s wrestling” like Jim Ross & Mick Foley are more concerned about whether or not the word Diva is problematic than the actual treatment of the women. An old man forcing himself on a woman is a humourous plot point in 2016. Every woman except Becky Lynch is a stereotype, from mean girl to cat lady. They are booked as catty, jealous bimbos who are self serving & petty. Even my 14 year old daughter, who wanted to be a Diva, no longer wants that. She feels like she would have to become a character that her sisters couldn’t be proud of, or end up humiliated like Becky Lynch.
WWE has an obligation to their female fans to give them a hero. I’m not necessarily about kids role modelling from TV people, my kids look up to me, my strength, tenacity, my work ethic. But little girls deserve to see the heroine win in the story. Celeste Bonin’s Kaitlyn was humiliated by man eating villainess AJ Lee. Brie Bella was felled by her evil twin and then joined her. Paige fought the good fight, but turned bitter. WWE finally has a chance to give little girls a chance for their hero to win, like John Cena or Roman Reigns for boys, as Becky is still fighting the good fight against two evil stereotypes. As the biggest event of the year, Wrestlemania approaches, I hope WWE finally shows that nice girls can finish first, and the big moment can go to the character who wants to show that you can become champion & keep your soul; Becky Lynch.
Yesterday was the best day I’ve had in recent memory.
I have been writing professionally for nine years. During that time the universe has blessed me with some amazing opportunities. But yesterday, I got to bring my daughters with me while I was working. We covered a trade show for female gamers at a comic book store. They weren’t interested in what Mommy does. They bough trinkets for themselves, a Captain America ornament for our tree, played chess & drooled over the Brie & Nikki Bella Pop Vinyls their collection desperately need.
We then went out to my full time workplace in the hunt for Xmas decorations @ their behest. I feigned annoyance, but I was secretly delighted that they wanted to meet my coworkers. During the Target Mobile days, they often came to visit me at work & I would live for the days that I could show off my beautiful, witty & funny children. I think they missed that too & enjoyed that brief return to the normalcy we were used to.
Lately, I’ve been so exhausted & burned out from the commute, the job itself (retail @ Xmas is taxing), and the lack of free time to focus on my girls, the gym & journalism that I’ve just been overwhelmed. I’m starting to feel like I can provide for them or be there for them & I want to be both. So, it was awesome to be able to integrate them into my work life a little bit.
Sometimes I feel like a bit of a failure as a mom. I’ve been a single mom for five years & I still haven’t found that work/life balance? Then I find myself thinking maybe there isn’t one. Maybe it’s about rolling with punches & changing the dynamic as the needs of the house change & just doing the best that you can. Maybe it’s just about teaching them how to be responsible adults by being one & devoting as much time as you can. Maybe that’s all I can do & by doing that, I’m still the mother I want to be.
This past year, I’ve scaled down the material items & focused on being present. I’ve made more of a point to enjoy their interests & encourage them to pursue them. Get to know their friends. Sometimes I’m the mean mom who says no to the beloved material item that they think that they need (like the giant plush fox or the aforementioned Pop Vinyls), which used to make me feel guilty, but now I know that I can’t make up for having to work with stuff. I can give them the time that they need to do stuff that they want, even if it’s travel to work on a Sunday to find a wreath that they might like or embracing the power of positivity with the New Day because they just want me to watch TV with them…or throwing a birthday party for the cat.
All weekend, I’ve beaten myself up for everything from Xmas shopping later than usual to taking a Walmart cashier’s comment about expecting my daughter to do the laundry personally & her doing her own laundry meant I failed as a mom. But I’m not failing. I’m doing the best that I can for my family, while still making them the priority & trying to be a role model. Our bills are paid, we have a warm home. They’re doing well in school. And every day we’re learning how to make our family better. So, I think we’re doing okay.
I’m fortunate that I’m raising a mature & well rounded teen girl. She’s not concerned with gossip. She doesn’t waste days on social media. She likes boys & fashion & selfies & reality TV, but she’s not caught up in celebrity worship as much as her peers (except for Queen Taylor Swift).
I’m perfectly fine with my daughter loving Taylor Swift. She’s a good person who loves her friends and her fans. She promotes the concept of women building up other women. She responds to criticism with class and poise. She isn’t afraid to stand up for other artists. Taylor Swift is a fine role model for young women & I applaud her commitment to retaining her true personality despite her growing fame.
However, my daughter’s new school friend recently teased her (good naturedly) for her obsession with the E! Reality show Total Divas. She adores the Bella Twins (Brie & Nikki) and enjoys their adventures as they climb the mountain to become the most dominant Divas in WWE history (a feat they’ve accomplished as Brie is the only Diva to co-main event a PPV, and Nikki recently held the Divas Championship longer than any Diva in history). But her friends are more concerned with Keeping Up With the Kardashians, most notably, their “style icon and role model,” Kylie Jenner.
My daughter argues that her reality show is better, because Brie & Nikki Bella have an actual skill, whether their skill is respected by mainstream entertainment fans or not. Brie & Nikki can wrestle; they train to wrestle. Nikki has continued to compete through three separate injuries over the 301 days she was Divas champion. Brie & Nikki travel often, missing weddings, family functions, all in the name of entertainment. Brie most recently missed her first wedding anniversary because she was touring. My daughter often points out that Kylie has no discernible skill, nor do any of her sisters. They don’t have actual jobs, or a talent, or anything that makes them special, so why are we keeping up with them. But I overheard her friends this week telling her that Kylie Jenner is an icon & they should all aspire to be like her, get her signature pout & her relationship with rapper Tyga are “relationship goals.” All of this sort of makes me sad.
I don’t know Kylie Jenner. I’m sure she’s a very sweet girl. She’s quite pretty. If she is a wild child, it’s probably more due to a lack of adequate supervision from her parents, Kris & Caitlyn Jenner. But there are so many more interesting things for young girls to aspire to be than pretty with a full pout. There is so much more for young women to accomplish than dating a 25 year old man while underage and bikini selfies and launching an app with makeup tips. These girls are 13 and 14 years old. They can grow into women of distinction; they can change the world. Why are they limiting themselves by wanting to be more like a woman with no discernible talent & her only goal is to be pretty & desired by men? Is this how my parents felt when I was all about Madonna?
Girls, please don’t sell yourself short. If you must look up to someone famous, why not Hailee Stenfeld? This young lady was nominated for an Academy Award at the age of 14. She recently released her single “Love Myself,” which is quickly climbing the Billboard charts. The catchy song is an anthem for self love, reminding people that as long as she sees her worth, she doesn’t need anyone to validate her. What about Malala Yousafzai, who took on the Taliban, survived a gunshot wound & now advocates education for women in underdeveloped countries. Both of these young women are the same age as Miss Jenner & their messages are so much more positive. Love who you are, grow as a woman, seek knowledge. While neither may have Miss Jenner’s perfect pout, they have something so much more: goals & aspirations & a desire to make the world better.
Somewhere, did we as parents fail our children? We can blame the media for giving the Kardashian-Jenner clan attention, but we are responsible for their infamy. We comment on their articles, we download their games, much like the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Episode, if you ignore them, they will die. We keep them alive with every retweet, click and comment.
But maybe it’s deeper. Maybe we as moms have failed our children by our own example. Why do our daughters aspire only to be pretty? They don’t learn from celebrities, they learn from us. We can blame Barbie, even Kylie Jenner, but we have to ask what kind of example are we setting? Do we acquiesce to our husbands? Did we abandon our goals? Do we focus too much on our own aesthetic so that out daughters see us fearing aging & obsessed with being “Cougars” because either we are single moms hoping to meet a mate or because we still want to feel sexy? There is nothing wrong with these things on the surface, know there are times I’m too caught up in my appearance, especially my weight & my weight loss journey & I need to be mindful of that for my daughters. But perhaps we need to use them as talking points, while aspiring to be more; professionally, personally. Perhaps we as moms need to start setting goals for ourselves to showcase that we as moms are strong, brave, smart and beautiful. Then perhaps our daughters will look up to us, admire us, and not Kylie Jenner. Because your daughter’s role model should be you, not the flavour of the week on TV. Maybe if we kept up with being the best version of ourselves, our kids could keep up with us, and not the Kardashians.
You don’t know me and I don’t know you, but we sort of grew up together. I’m only a couple of years younger than you and I grew up watching WWE programming and loved the entertainment your family brought into my home each week. As a teenager, I loathed your onscreen character for being married to my childhood crush, Triple H (although I promise I got over it haha) and much like you, I have three daughters of my own. You’ve gone from being the bane of my teenage existence to becoming a role model for women like me; you’re a hardworking mom who strives to be a role model. You don’t make excuses; you find time to keep in shape, run a company and still be there for your daughters. You inspire women like me every single day. I’m actually a huge fan of you and your work ethic.
The WWE Network is the most popular channel in my home, but it’s not for me; it’s for my three daughters, who are 13, eight and five. My eldest daughter’s goal in life is to become the youngest WWE Divas Champion in history and is already training for her goal. She runs 5Km with me three days a week, joins as many sports teams a possible and carries her replica title around as practice for when she wins the real thing, skipping like her idol, AJ Lee. The highlight of my eight year old daughter’s life was when she met WWE Diva Paige in our hometown in Ontario, Canada last year. Paige told her they were best friends and to this day, my daughter swears that she and Paige are best friends and begs to stay up late every week to see Paige wrestle and is waiting with baited breath for Paige to get her Wrestlemania moment @ Wrestlemania XXXI. My youngest loves the Bella Twins and sported her “Fearless Nikki” shirt on her birthday so she could be “Fearless Five.” They were excited beyond belief this past Summerslam, when you and Brie Bella co-headlined the second largest event of the year. They pleaded for Brie Mode and Fearless Nikki shirts so they could watch Divas kick butt just like the guys. They were so happy and as a longtime fan of WWE programming, I thought we were finally going to see a change, where women would get equal time to the men on programming and no longer would little girls all over the world wait all night to see the Divas just for them to be trucked out for three minutes and then leave…
..until last night.
Paige and fellow Diva Emma sat in the ring for several minutes while Raw aired a promo for male Superstar Sting. A promo that was long and unnecessary and could have aired at any point in the show. The Divas were given less than 10 seconds to wrestle and maybe three minutes to perform before they were shipped backstage. Ironically enough, you made a statement in a backstage segment questioning if male superstar Seth Rollins would defy you simply because you’re a woman. You make a bold, femminist statement and then have your Divas compete in less than 30 seconds with a promo in between. You stand up for powerful women, but your company disrespects their female athletes less than two hours later by saying that a video package for a male superstar is more important than their time.
I’m not talking as a disgruntled fan; I’m a mom just like you. My daughters adore the Divas, only watch WWE programming for the Divas (and Daniel Bryan. They really love Daniel Bryan) and each week they wait for hours for their beloved Divas just to see them for less than two minutes in storylines that insult their intelligence. The Bella Twins hate Paige because she looks different, AJ Lee hates the Total Divas because she wants to be on the show and wasn’t invited? Why can’t they have a storyline that is deep and meaningful? Trish Stratus and Lita had a rivalry that eclipsed their male counterparts, why can’t the current women? While I appreciate that Paige has sent a strong message about being true to oneself, why can’t women have storylines that make them strong, powerful women, and not high school bullies or jealous vixens?
I guess the part that confuses me is that you are such a strong woman and you take such pride in representing women in such a strong capacity. Why wouldn’t you want the Divas to be a reflection of your work ethic? My daughters as well as daughters all over the world look up to these women, they deserve more than two minute matches and storylines that demean them. When you became an active member of the creative team, moms like myself had such hope that you would show the world that the women were just as strong as the men. Total Divas is a successful franchise and brings new viewers to WWE. Why wouldn’t you capitalize on that and allow the viewers of Total Divas to see just how strong and athletic these Divas can be? We can’t see that in two minutes. The Divas work so hard. They deserve so much more. And you know how strong and talented they are, that’s why you chose to wrestle them yourself. Brie and Nikki Bella were talented enough to work a match with you, sell a pay per view event with you, and make history as the first women’s match to co-headline a PPV with you, but they’re not good enough for twenty minutes of airtime for Nikki to defend her title or cut a promo? That feels so hypocritical and I know that’s not how you would want fans to see you.
On behalf of every fan, I’m asking you to please let the Divas have airtime. Monday Night Raw is three hours long, surely you can give thirty minutes to the Divas. Every time you don’t, you cheapen the goals of little girls all over the world just like my teenage daughter, who want nothing more than to hold that title. You cheapen the hard work of women like AJ Lee, Paige and Nikki Bella, who work so hard and train so hard while working long hours and travel long days to hold that title and devalue Brie Bella, your handpicked opponent. You make them appear unworthy and beneath the men, and I know a woman like you, who conquered a man’s world would never want that for women.
I hope you’ll listen to the fans and #GiveDivasAChance, so my daughters will never have to say “Please let us stay up for the Divas, they’ll only be on for a minute!” ever again.
I watched WWE as a kid & still dig the camp factor. My daughters love it though, are very invested in the storylines & I’ll have to keep my two eldest in neutral corners as their faves AJ Lee & Paige compete for the Divas title tonight @ the Summerslam PPV event (yes, they are well aware it isn’t real, it’s all scripted & they’re all friends in real life, but you can get hurt if you try it. My middle daughter will tell you this is the best cartoon on TV & Daniel Bryan is everything).
However, I often complain at the lack of proper representation for their female characters. The Divas (until recently) were one note characters, either kind of trashy or innocent ingenue & their only storylines were bad girl wants good girl’s Divas title or is jealous of good girl. The only exceptions were the long & storied feud of Trish Stratus & Lita & the mean girls style antics of Laycool (Michelle McCool & Layla El). As a parent of daughters , it bugged me that there were no characters they could really get behind or rally around. Well, it’s as if Stephanie McMahon (the company’s principal owner & mom of three daughters) heard every mom’s concerns & did something about it.
The women have complex characters now. Divas Champion AJ Lee went from one note man eater jealous of the girls from the reality show Total Divas (on the E! Network) to complicated heroine struggling to keep her composure after an onslaught of machinations created by her “friend”. Newcomer Paige is a sweet young girl…or a master manipulator. The Bella Twins went from wooden bad girls to heroines protecting each other & their family (namely Brie’s real life & legitimately injured husband Daniel Bryan) from the aforementioned McMahon. Nikki put up with unfair advantage week after week believing that she could overcome & Brie, having had enough, challenged McMahon to stand up for her family & Brie vs. Stephanie is going to headline tonight’s PPV.
That’s right: the main event is two women! Something unheard of in the sexist & misongynistic world of wrestling. Women are normally relegated to less than 10 minutes & put in the spot known as the “death slot,” so you can get nachos before John Cena appears. My daughters were heartbroken @ Wrestlemania XXX when they waited all night for the first Divas title match in the history of the event, only to see there were no entrances (save for AJ Lee) & their match was shorter than the time it took for the Undertaker to walk to the ring. The Divas disappear from TV for weeks while little girls sadly hope for a glimpse of Brie or Nikki & last year, a Divas t-shirt was a mythological thing. If little girls wanted something to represent their idols, they had to make it themselves.
But not anymore.
Seven women have merch for little girls to buy. There are two women’s matches a night. TWO. The women have actual storylines & Brie Bella, who’s match was famously pulled off a PPV to make room for Machine Gun Kelly to play John Cena to the ring is considered more important than the men. My daughters pleaded for their Bella shirts & I relented (& got one too) & they are excited for tonight like it’s Super Bowl Sunday with their Fearless Nikki & Brie Mode shirts. They’ve counted down the days for Bellaslam as they call it & tonight, they all get to stay up late to see if their beloved Brie can defeat the evil Stephanie McMahon.
While to those who don’t watch, it doesn’t seem like a big deal; it’s just a campy, stupid TV show designed for rednecks & children, but to every girl who was told that they only watched wrestling for the hot guys or for the soap opera like atmosphere, this is our moment. For once, the girls we cheered for aren’t being marginalized in a dumbed down storyline that makes women look like shrews or like they only care about pleasing men or like women secretly hate each other & it’s all about jealousy. This is the equivalent of A Disney Princess grabbing the sword from Prince Charming & saving herself, or the Cubs going to the World Series. Fans waited so long & gave up hope that the day would ever come. Suddenly, for every little girl who aspires to be a Diva (including my 13 year old daughter), the main event, the star of the show, is an option. It’s attainable & kudos to WWE for realizing that girls can kick ass, girls do have feelings, & girls can star the show & people WILL care about them. Between this & the successful reality show Total Divas, it’s like WWE finally gets what they seemed to have forgotten since Trish Stratus & Lita retired; women are people; strong, resilient, confident, brave & emotional people & not just objects for men to ogle.
Now, I’m well aware that WWE will likely screw this up & break up the Bella Twins or something & turn this into a one note jealous sister storyline & remind me why they are sexist & can’t write for women, but right now I’m feeling very girl power for them & for my own kids, who get to ask to stay up without saying “if they don’t get cut” or “it’ll only be five more minutes,” because for the first time ever, the Divas are the star of the show.