Category Archives: Society

A little girl connects with someone outside.

Can you handle it?

As I watched this video (below) with my jaw half-dropped, I wondered how many girls will look at this without blinking an eye?

When the main words in a song are “video phone,” and there’s a woman — actually, two — writhing around with virtually nothing on, stroking giant, plastic, phallic guns, purring “if you want me, you can tape me on your video phone,” I have to wonder how desensitized North American teens are to this BS — and how many will look up to this ‘superstar’ and want to emulate this crock of crap.

I’m a huge fan of catchy pop tunes, and I love a good dance number as much as anyone, but this is beyond. Utilizing video — perhaps our most powerful medium for conveying information and ideas to the masses — to create epic works of socially constructed, gendered lies is criminal — this is the Male Gaze, personified. (Literally: there are men with video cameras in place of heads.)

I realize that there are SO many videos like this, and ones that are much, much worse; I simply haven’t paid attention to any of them for such a long time, and watching this one today, after several years of cleansing my palate from mainstream junk, set me right off.

Well, onward. It only fuels my fire to move forward with my own aspirations of making video and films filled with conscientious, positive content that lifts women (and men) up, rather than dragging us down to this tickity-tack level of lo-fi kitsch so glaringly deprived of any wit, intelligence, or style — and, ultimately, respect.

The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.

Marshall McLuhan

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Opposite Ends

Super excited to share two recently published articles – on opposite ends of the content spectrum no less!

I had a lot of fun writing for Yeity because their style is sarcastic and cheeky. Site tagline? Travel that will put hair on your snatch. Ha! It felt good to vent about my experience jogging in Kampala and share some pics. Here’s a peek at what running through town looks like:

A little bit hectic, a little bit rock n' roll...

A little bit hectic, a little bit rock n’ roll…

And now for something completely different…

My favourite Kampala-based publication, Start Journal, is an arts and culture magazine a bit outside the box in terms of content. It publishes many local Ugandan writers’ work on happenings in the art scene here, The criticism in it is meant to question the social-political context in which art (all types) are created.

 And yet, like so many other dictators, not only was Amin a frightening, deeply disturbed man, but he was also effortlessly capable of ineffable charisma and charm. The president clearly enjoyed putting on a show.

The Bad and the Beautiful is my review of the filmic portrayal of former president and mass-murderer Idi Amin Dada in The Last King of Scotland and General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait. The piece is the result of a discussion on this topic with some of my fellow cinephiles here at 32 East. My essay ended up also being influenced by David Foster Wallace’s brilliant write-up of his experience on the set of David Lynch’s Lost Highway. That is – literally – a topic for another post.

“Art film is essentially teleological; it tries in various ways to “wake the audience up” or render us more “conscious.” (…) An art film’s point is usually more intellectual or aesthetic, and you usually have to do some interpretive work to get it, so that when you pay to see an art film you’re actually paying to work (whereas the only work you have to do w/r/t most commercial films is whatever work you did to afford the price of the ticket).” -D.F. Wallace

Distortions

Photo from Distortion series by Andre Kertesz

Photo from Distortion series by Andre Kertesz

In a photo historical context, it is natural to place Kertész’s nudes in line with later experiments by Brassaï, Hans Bellmer and Paul Strand, wherein different forms of manipulation created distortions of forms.[…]

Kertész’s pictures can also be read as a comment on the space women occupy; a space which is completely destabilised due to the use of mirrors. Usually, we have no problem with identifying the physical frame around the body, but here it is not the body that is photographed, but the reflection of it in its physical surroundings. In that sense, one may argue that the pictures are not at all about the body, but about the disintegration of a spatial perception to which one has become accustomed. In that sense the pictures can be argued to have developed from the Cubists’ deconstructed and fragmented spaces. The ruling disorder becomes an attack on the endeavour to instil the human body in a lucid space, which provides it with a defined place. The body is, in Kertész’s photographs, transformed into an object we no longer have a firm grasp of; the body avoids us as a slippery bar of soap. Consequently, it escapes the kingdom of the gaze.

Pg. 9, ANDRÉ KERTÉSZ • DISTORTIONS

What an excellent interpretation of Andre Kertesz‘s innovative, seminal Distortion series. Women – and men, for that matter – certainly live in an inherently destabilized space. Consumerist-driven irrational social and gender constructs create this unhealthy, upside-down environment that has devastating effects on people.

In these works, the image is not about the subject itself – instead the focus is placed on the lens through which the subject is seen. This distorted manifestation becomes how the subject – in this case, ‘woman’ – is perceived, questioning the fragmentation that has occurred between a more authentic ‘reality’ and this final perception (distortion). The series points out how ‘true’ – real – these perceptions seen. Our fragmented, distorted view of women (‘woman’ as subject) seems organic when it is indeed not. Rather it is the result of myriad fragmented pieces haphazardly – yet meticulously and purposely – reconstructed by consumerist social constructs.

I highly recommend reading the write-up in its entirety if you are interested in learning more about Kertesz’s fantastic work in general or his Distortion series specifically.

#1 from Distortion series by Andre Kertesz

#1 from Distortion series by Andre Kertesz

Yangon Calling

A few months ago I wrote an article on the documentary Yangon Calling, a film about punk in Myanmar.

You can read the article via South East Asia backpacker here. Scroll to page 58, under Arts. Here’s a brief excerpt from the interview..

Over the years, hundreds of documentaries have been made on colourful chaotic punk life. The best ones give us a look at the vulnerable, passionate people behind the hard-edged exterior. Penelope Spheeris’ The Decline of Western Civilization does this for LA’s early 80’s hardcore scene, while Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten shows an intimate view of the complex person behind one of the most influential punk bands ever. Yangon Calling, a film by German-based filmmakers Alexander Dluzak and Carsten Piefke, now adds to the list, offering a look at the challenges faced by punks living in the capital city of Myanmar. Filmed in 2011, just before the country began undergoing significant socio-political change as it switched to an open economy, the documentary explores this lesser-known side of the country…

Love & falling into space

You don’t fall in love like you fall in a hole. You fall like falling through space. It’s like you jump off your own private planet to visit someone else’s planet. And when you get there it all looks different: the flowers, the animals, the colours people wear. It is a big surprise falling in love because you thought you had everything just right on your own planet, and that was true, in a way, but then somebody signalled to you across space and the only way you could visit was to take a giant jump. Away you go, falling into someone else’s orbit and after a while you might decide to pull your two planets together and call it home. And you can bring your dog. Or your cat. Your goldfish, hamster, collection of stones, all your odd socks. (The ones you lost, including the holes, are on the new planet you found.)

And you can bring your friends to visit. And read your favourite stories to each other. And the falling was really the big jump that you had to make to be with someone you don’t want to be without. That’s it.

– Jeanette Winterson

(From Brainpickings)

PS You have to be brave.