Things that help me, as a modern feminist-artist-anarchist, keep going: The fact that, with an independently-produced zine, Bikini Kill revitalized the Feminist movement after it had been declared “dead” by the mainstream media. The fact that Tori Amos still has a career, after many people told her it was over. The existence of Stevie Nicks. Laura Dern’s performance in Inland Empire, and her over-all awesomeness. The fact that, after suffering through several “sexploitation” films, Sherilyn Fenn chose to write it into her contract that she would not do sex scenes: Though this arguably killed her career, she speaks in interviews about how it has not hurt her happiness in the least, and it is undeniable that she will always be remembered and revered for her amazing and iconic character Audrey Horne, who managed to defy the Virgin/Whore dichotomy. The eternal brilliance of Vivien Leigh’s performances. The fact that Mary Pickford is memorialized by the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study. The fact that Amanda Palmer did punk rock on a piano, and notoriously played so hard that she repeatedly broke piano strings. Tina Fey’s career in general. The way the Kinderwhore style challenged peoples’ expectations of women in music. So did Patti Smith.
So it has unfortunately come to my attention that Miley Cyrus is being painted as the new Feminist Rock Starlet Icon. Because, apparently, humanity has the memory span of a gold fish. In case you are one of the many who apparently forgot, here is something she said onstage during a performance:
“You know, everyone’s a little bit gay,” she told the crowd. “It’s the truth. Everyone’s gay, all it takes is one cocktail. And if that doesn’t work, sprinkle something in their drink. That’s what I always do.” (Source: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/may/12/miley-cyrus-date-rape-gay )
Is this the most ass-backwards attempt to champion tolerance of gay culture, or what? You know, you’re ALSO a woman, so you should be a little more understanding and sympathetic towards a plight that countless women have suffered. Even if you WEREN’T a woman, that comment is cold-hearted, and promotes Rape Culture.
Oh yeah, Rape Culture: I forgot, it’s the in-thing this season. Which leads me to another point about this comment: It’s COOL to joke about rape. When and why did this happen? Fuck if I know. But a pop star like Cyrus making a comment like that is a sad and desperate attempt to 1)draw attention, 2)seem edgy, and 3)be part of the masses, who think it’s hip and funny to joke about rape. That’s called rape culture, kids, and I don’t think you would think it’s so fucking cool and funny if it happened to you.
The next point I need to make is the most difficult one, as many people have a hard time discerning the difference between these two: Sexual Liberation and Self-Exploitation. Yes, there’s a difference, and yes, one is good, and one is bad. When you are sexually liberated, it’s a good and beautiful thing. It’s POWERFUL. It gives you and millions of sexually oppressed individuals MORE POWER AND FREEDOM. Every time someone breaks the bonds of sexual oppression, you are encouraging others to say, “Fuck you, I’m not going to be ashamed of my body or my sexuality.” Tori Amos did this in many ways, by singing about masturbation, talking openly about her experience with rape, and the sexual way she moves at her piano. “Cherry Bomb” by the Runaways is often considered to be an anthem of female sexual liberation with its verse of “Down the street I’m the girl next door/I’m the fox you’ve been waiting for.” And you know what? They didn’t do that shit to be cool, either; in fact, women like this often received harsh criticism (see also: slut shaming) for making such bold statements of sexual freedom. This is what we need more of. I’m all for women being able to sing, write and talk about their pussies, their periods, or anything else the world tries to tell us is “taboo.”
Now that I’ve explained that to you, let me elucidate on Self-Exploitation. For those keeping track, this is the “bad” one I was speaking of earlier. Using Punk as an example, but without getting too deep into Punk Politics, let me give you some quick keys so we can discuss this: Once Punk is sold at your local Hot Topic, it is no longer truly Punk, because it no longer holds to the ideals that define Punk. Got that? OK, now let me say this: Sexual Liberation is like Punk, and Self-Exploitation is like Hot Topic. Still following? Good. Let’s continue.
MANY Pop Stars have gone onstage declaring themselves to be sexually liberated. Maybe they believe it, maybe they know it’s BS, but in reality, in the mainstream world of the Celebrity Star-Making Machine, their sexuality has actually been co-opted by the higher ups: Record Label Executives or Agents who told them “Maybe you’d sell more albums/get more movie roles if you sex it up a bit.” Guess what? Sex sells. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But the media KNOWS that it sells, and has been using this against the public for as far back as there’s been advertising. To sexually liberate yourself is an act that helps the greater good, but here’s the thing: Britney Spears (see also: Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Lady GaGa, Jessica/Ashley Simpson, etc, etc…) shaking her scantily clad ass into the camera just to sell you Pepsi is not done for the greater good. That’s not sexual liberation: That’s you selling your body and your sexuality to a corporation and letting them use it for their means. It doesn’t benefit you, your fans, or humanity: It only benefits the corporation who you brainwash people into buying products from. Actually, I forgot: It DOES land the “performer” a few million dollars, and I’m sure their Maserati was getting a little outdated…
My conclusion: Miley Cyrus is not a feminist. She is not a sexually liberated woman. She’s a corporate shill. As the media knows by now, sensationalism sells: If you don’t believe me, have a look at Lady GaGa or Nicki Minaj. Now do you see what I mean? So the corporations are more than THRILLED to have an ex-Disney Pusher acting so outrageously, because outrageous is going to sell more product. And too many people are more than thrilled to make the trade, selling themselves to corporations in exchange for fame and money (see also: attention-starved, narcissism, etc, etc, etc…). The fact that the Kardashians have their own show (and the existence of E! Television in general) is proof enough of this.
By the way, Kathleen Hanna: Fucking shame on you for allying yourself with Miley Cyrus. You’ve spent your life advocating feminism, and women working together for a common good, and Miley Cyrus has spent her (albiet shorter) life decimating these ideals. From joking about date rape, to shit-talking Sinead O’Connor for trying to give some kindly, empirical advice, Cyrus is nothing but a spoiled brat who wants to jump on every bandwagon that drives by, and expects to be treated like a goddess on each one. Kathleen, maybe before you ran to Cyrus’s side, you could have stood up for Sinead O’Connor. I would have respected that.
Today I saw a shirt that said, “I’m not lazy, I just really like doing nothing.” We see that and laugh; it’s cute, it’s funny, we’ve got more important stuff to do. And honestly something that stupid shouldn’t be given merit. Except for the fact that it is being given merit because it’s on a goddamn t-shirt.
“Well, if you think about it, we’re ALL narcissists for making choices to keep ourselves alive…” That’s another thing I read today. Oh please, really? Where were you educated? I’m tired of this absurd “logic” or lack-thereof that states “Well who’s to say a wheel is round/a rock is hard/chickens are chickens/garbage is smelly/pink is pink? Maybe a wheel can be flat/a rock can be fluffy/chickens can be moose/garbage is potpourri/pink can be green?” One thing does not equal another just because you want it to. For the love of fuck, please, if people keep talking like this it’s gonna drive me out of my damn mind. Everyone’s reality is not defined by your terms. You are going to perceive things differently from someone else. That’s how it’s gonna be. Don’t try to convince them that your perception is true by saying “nothing is anything and everything can be everything.” I’ve had so many people trying to use this method to avoid serious discussion/justify their own ignorance/justify their own inability to do something/justify their rudeness/or generally cop out of life. Look, if you suck at something, please have the guts to admit it, don’t say “I’m just being alternative” because there REALLY are alternative artists and you’re giving them a bad name by pretending to be one JUST BECAUSE you can’t do what you’re actually trying to do properly. “Who’s to say getting up onstage and vomiting on the microphone isn’t art? Maybe it’s alternative music/comedy/performance art?” By NO DEFINITION is vomiting any of those things.
While I’m at it, stating an opinion and proceeding to clarify it when someone does not understand is not “getting upset,” as you so put it. And you are also not superior to me because you “don’t like to get upset about things.” I don’t like to get upset about shit either, except there are frustrating people (like you for one) in the world.
I recently engaged in a discussion which allowed me to rant about things that angered me. Of course, talking about why music today sucks is going to attract some heated arguments against my points. After mentioning that the last new band I heard that I liked was the Dresden Dolls, people became distracted by that single statement, ignoring everything else I said. They attempted the excuse everything away by saying that I was just not looking hard enough for good, new music, which was not my point at all. My point is that I have heard the music of today, and it is lacking something that its predecessors had. I came back to explain my points further. The resulting two posts are duplicated (with some editing to help for context) here for your consumption:
“I’m not necessarily a fan of cabaret music, just (what I define as) good music. It can be punk, jazz, blues, rock, alternative, industrial, goth, post-punk, new wave, pop, electronica, or whatever… I’m just not finding anything nowadays that matches up to the quality of stuff that I like from the 90’s (like Marilyn Manson, Tori Amos, Tool, Le Tigre, Hole, etc…). I mean, as far as I’ve seen, the new Kathleen Hanna/Tori Amos/Marilyn Manson/Maynard James Keenan hasn’t reared their head yet, and music is suffering for it. Florence and the Machine was interesting, but doesn’t really hold up next to stuff from the 90’s. Queens of the Stone Age is awesome, but they technically came out of the 90’s as well. Brody Dalle (of Sourpuss/The Distillers/Spinnerette) used to be hardcore, now she’s trying to go the sell-out-pop-hipster-rock route that just sounds like everything else and I just don’t think it sounds good. People tried to paint Lady GaGa as a new Tori Amos, saying that they’re part of the same thread of evolution, but as far as I’m concerned, that would be DE-evolution. I’m happy to hear Garbage’s new album was pretty much up to standard as their other albums, which rock, but, again, they’re 90’s. No one seems to be breaking new ground. I guess you just have to go way underground to find good new stuff.
The funniest/most depressing thing to me is when people say, “If you like this artist, you’ll like this artist.” The unspoken ending to that statement is usually, “because they’re a cheap, talentless imitation of that artist you like.” People kept telling me, “If you like Joy Division, you’ll like She Wants Revenge.” That band is just Joy Division’s music ripped off, with lyrics that hold no substance. The thing I love about most artists is their originality and their substance. Don’t give me pop versions of visionaries. I want depth and innovation. I want PASSION and ORIGINALITY, not soulless reverb played while some kid whines about how his shoe lace broke in front of a girl he liked.”
Then, of course, came more arguments that missed the point: “Those bands are derivative, too.” “Riot Grrrl is just basic punk.” What people got out of my post was that, “Oh, so you’re saying that the 90’s are the best musical decade?” This led me to wonder if they were actually reading, or just skimming over and picking up keywords. I responded with this:
“I’m just saying that the 90’s had my favorite music in it, and that, to me, it seems to be the last era that really had creativity and soul to it. I also love the Dead Kennedys (80’s), Joy Division (70’s), Stevie Nicks (70’s/80’s), The Cure (80’s, mostly) and Nick Cave (80’s/90’s). So I’m definitely not saying one era is better than another.
It’s not about it being a derivative, musically: It’s about the content. The argument that Manson was just ripping off more obscure Industrial bands is moot, in my opinion, because he did some really groundbreaking stuff. His music has depth to it, which, as far as I’m concerned, a lot of the industrial bands that are listed as being better because they’re obscure, lack. Just because you were the first to do something doesn’t make you the best at it. Trial and error. You deserve credit for it, but it doesn’t mean you did the best version. And to say that Riot Grrrl is just punk, seems to me to be missing the point. The Riot Grrrl movement was about reviving feminism, which people were already calling “dead.” Go watch the documentary “The Punk Singer” about Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill, and you’ll understand it better.
The truth is, there are only so many different notes and sounds. Queens of the Stone Age borrows heavily from Iggy Pop, Tori Amos from Kate Bush, Nirvana from the Pixies, Hole from Stevie Nicks and Sonic Youth. Having influences is not the point. I’d argue that Tori Amos is better than Kate Bush, honestly. It’s all about the message, to me. I’m not saying influences are bad: I’m just saying that the huge majority of the music nowadays is not being inspired by their predecessors: I’m saying they’re imitating their predecessors by not adding any passion or soul of their own. What’s the difference between Kate Bush and Tori Amos? Tori had a new voice. She wasn’t Kate Bush. She took influences from Kate Bush, as well as Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, Carole King, and so on, but she added her own experiences, trials and passion to it. When I listen to music today, I don’t hear that: I hear a bunch of kids who never developed mentally or emotionally past 12 years old, and who all want to sound like each other.”
Like an Ouroboros/Endless Human Centipede, the music of today is primarily a bunch of imitations of imitations. Some band named Vampire Weekend/My Morning Jacket/Baked Potatoes Rule comes out sounding bland and pointless, and then it spawns a millions of imitation bands, trying to sound like another bland band in a sad attempt to get signed. At least when punk bands imitated each other, if they did, it was not to get signed and get rich, because it was pretty much guaranteed by Ronald Reagan that you would not be signed (at least by a US label). The point of the youth is to rebel against the unjust laws and restrictions of the previous generation. This is where the music movement of today falls short. Hipster music is the new movement, following Hippies, Punk, Grunge, Riot Grrrl, Goth… and now Hipster? This music does not rebel against anything in any way. And it isn’t for lack of injustice in the world. So why do Hipsters mostly sing about “boys” and “girls” who refused to go to the prom with them? Well… my analysis of that would be best saved for a later date. Until then, go watch “The Punk Singer” documentary about Kathleen Hanna, and listen to Joy Division. Just because.
Call them asskissers, brown noses, or suck-ups, we’ve all known them. We’ve all recognized them in their various ways of pretending in order to get ahead in the world. These incarnations of fakers may seem like the most innocuous, but their presence is noxious to me.
In my experience, I’ve noticed that these people, in general, are much less likely to treat you like a human being if you have nothing to offer them. They’ll treat you like shit because, hey, you can’t pay them, you can’t fire them, you can’t put their names up in lights, so what do you matter? They are only interested in those who are in positions of some kind of power. Asskissers are the most likely to have weak personal relationships, as their energy is dedicated to faking friendships with “the power people.” You can recognize an asskisser by the way they disregard you when you have no power over them. They circle around the “alpha wolves” of their cliques, whether their clique exists in a job environment, or in another kind of social strata. Comedians suck up to promoters or more successful comedians, hoping to get booked for a show; musicians suck up to record executives hoping to land a deal; employees suck up to their bosses, hoping to get a raise; on and on, in every type of social circle.
Asskissers see their actions as harmless, as their actions don’t cause obvious, immediate damage to those around them. It is my opinion, however, that asskissers may not be the worst plague in society, but their actions promote “fakeness” in general. If it “hurts no one,” as these asskissers claim and believe, then why should you tell the truth to someone’s face? Why can’t we just pretend to be everyone’s friend?
This is a breach of trust, and once you know about it, it makes you suspicious. Maybe you’ve had an acquaintance who claimed to be your friend, who you were always kind to out of the goodness of your heart, only to find them talking shit about you behind your back. Maybe when you tried to approach them as a friend, they rebuked you. This is because you have nothing to offer them: Neither money, status or opportunity. You’re just a person, not a boss or patron. I have had this happen to me in devastating ways, multiple times, and has led to me being very distrustful of people, and has made me think twice about befriending anyone. How do I know they are sincere and won’t stab me in the back? The sad thing is, you don’t know until it is too late.
Asskissers are basically shitting all over society. While they do not destroy it, they have promoted breaches of trust, and advertise this as the best way to get by in life. If you call them out on it, they’ll either deny it all together, or insist that their actions are harming no one. I can’t trust people like this. I’ve seen bosses ask their employees to spy on their own co-workers, and these employees not even question their actions before complying, even when they know it’s wrong. It may lift you up in the minds of your paranoid bosses, but you are breaching your co-worker’s trust. You may pretend to be a true friend to someone’s face, then tell someone else about all the person’s flaws, and mock them behind their back.
It’s a vicious cycle of betrayal, suspicion and unbreakable walls being built. I have never gone back to trusting someone once I know they are a snake in the grass: It’s even worse, because all of the people who betrayed me, I approached in an earnest attempt to be a real friend. I have not found a solution to dealing with these people, other than avoiding them for life and ceasing my trust of most everyone around me. I don’t know how to convince these people that they are harming themselves, the people they suck up to, and all the people around them by behaving this way. They are self-centered, and always have themselves convinced that it’s a harmless action. They may even delude themselves into thinking that they do like the people they pretend to like: However, it is all a plastic facade, which gives off toxic fumes.
Try your best not to inhale.
Quick one here.
I saw both 300 movies for the first time today. Some things I would like you to consider, if you have seen one or both of them:
1) Did the sex scene in either part add anything to the story?
2) Did Gorgo offering herself sexually to the politician benefit the story? Or would it have been more interesting for Gorgo to have thought the situation through more clearly, known that she would ultimately be betrayed, and formulate a much more clever plan with her intellect (like the men in the movies) and ultimately reached the same conclusion that she arrived at anyway, without allowing herself to be sexually abused? Wouldn’t that have made her character stronger?
3) What were Artemisia’s motivations? How did they change throughout the movie?
4) Is Artemisia more abuser, or victim?
5) Who was the real villain of the story?
That is all. For your consideration.
Right now I am sitting with my sister, watching an old documentary on transorbital lobotomy. This is a good metaphor for the kinds of things you will, in the future, see on this blog. My writings will not always be sane, they will not always be coherent, important, brilliant or politically correct, but they will always be unusual, and that, I think, is of particular importance.
In a world where so much of media is a copy of an imitation (to copy the great Marilyn Manson), uniqueness is particularly special. It is important, for anyone who wants to call themselves an artist, to push the envelope, to do something different and not always popular. I see it as my duty, therefore, to present to you and everyone else, something different. Something which may change your outlook on the world in some obscure way. Anything, as long as it is different.
That is all for now, but the horror will progress very soon.
Hair, make-up and photography by Jenna Marie Hall for Fringe: The Cutting Edge of Hair Design (Magazine)