I really do. And today, I put some up. In fact, I’ve made a blog.
This is is something I’ve been working on for a little while, as anyone who knows me personally can probably attest. It is, to quote myself, “part of the same investigation (as Roddy’s Film Companion. What it comes down to is that I never know whether this strange connection I feel, this obsessive need to investigate, is in the text, or in me. I never know. But I think that it is somewhere between the two. I am also certain that it is related to narrative, to what narratives are and how they are made. In life, as in art, you know?”
I don’t know much about Twilight. I haven’t read the books. And sure, okay, I think the only sensible explanation for the film is that it received money from the Bush administration when he was still president (but with stipulations: “make it really sexist, guys. Make it look like a man can’t control his sexuality at all, so when he rapes you, that’s a testament to how special you are. And you know what? Throw in some racism while you’re at it!” ) But I’ve been told that the books, while awfully written (“how could he be so calloused, so unfeeling?” is one memorable quote) and very, very gross, do have something interesting to say about female desire. We’re aware, naturally, that the series is marketed at women, and apparently the younger the better. We know that the fans do scary, violent, threatening things sometimes. We know all this, and personally, the whole thing makes me feel really yukky. We know that it wins points for epic Mormonicity too, which makes me cranky as fuck. But my feelings are mixed. I don’t want to fully add my voice to the condemnation choir. I don’t know if it’s the fact that everybody hates Twilight and it’s an easy target so I’m just being cantankerous, or the things Claire told me about how much of the first book is just Bella thinking about Edward’s body, thus allowing straight women the narrative grace of being into hot guys in a sexual way (we are, incidentally) and having sex feelings about them. So I think maybe I’m curious if there’s a difference between the books and the films?
As I say, I haven’t read them, but perhaps there’s a fertile study in applying Mulvey’s ‘Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema’ thesis and discussing the way the male gaze is so fully a part of film language, while also discussing The Novel as the once-upon-a-time pwning ground of women (it’s true, folks. Years ago, novels were considered very low art, and when they first became popular, a lot of the writers were women, because novels weren’t thought of as very good and nobody minded if women wrote them. I’ve linked to something that’s mentioned it briefly, but if you really want to know more, check out Dale Spender’s work.)
That study would take actually doing the research, which I haven’t done, so I won’t go on. I’ll just say that I’m curious. And anyway, this started because I just wanted to spare a thought for our boy Robert Pattinson. Assuming whatever we assume about Twilight – that it’s a slice of cynical marketing, that it’s a catchall for pre-existing gendered ideologies, that it’s a secret space for girls to think about sex without having to be “dirty girls” (instead, they’re just called “Twihards”, so it’s kind of lose/lose), that it’s just hot and fun, and really popular – poor old R-Patz is just a dude. He happens to be the dude that plays Edward Cullen, though, which means he has become a lightening rod for repressed reaction to gender inequity, which means he has legions of fans, some of whom are uncomfortably young, and some of whom do uncomfortable things. And I was going to write about that, because I’m interested in what it’s like to be very, very famous, but when I was googling for reffs, I found that not all of those crazy Twilight fan stories are even true.
I don’t doubt that some of them are, but often times I’m seeing a little bit of “I have a friend who has a friend”. And I think we’re all pretty aware that the attention is such that it sucks to be R-Patz right now. I can’t even begin to imagine how he feels about Twilight panties. But you gotta wonder… what’s the deal here? I believe it, that fan girls are capable of some crazy shit (if only because I remember the letters I wrote to Jonathan Brandis as a wee girl,) but I’m starting to think there’s a bit of media-matter here in the same manner as the G20 protests: the paper writes about the violent anarchists, and it’s not only great news, but it also happens to be a very great strategy for avoiding discussion of the fact that the G20 is a vile bastion of corporate evil (I don’t mean to sound so tin-hat. I don’t mean conspiracy, I mean “recieved ideas” in the sense the Pierre Bourdieu would use the term, in that global capitalism is “situation normal” and it takes reflection to critique it. Reflection is boring, and does not sell papers.)
As with Twilight fans – I’m not trying to say that some of them act normally, and popular media parlance tars them all with the same brush (other people make that argument, but it’s not my focus here,) I’m trying to say that talking about, and often times exagerating the behaviour of Twilight fans may belie the structural conditions that produce the fandom. It’s a book about sex for girls, for godsakes. And it’s horrible, and it’s regressive, and it’s sexist and I hate it, but shit, is anybody really surprised that young girls might be all “fuck! sex! I WANT that!” and having very few tools to express that with pride and power, ask for validification from R-Patz in ways he’s not comfortable with?
Shit, y’all, I don’t know. This was all written on the fly, and I don’t really have a lot else to say except this: sorry, R-Patz, and I hope it gets better. But also, if you are not R-Patz, perhaps it is more fruitful to discuss one’s disapproval of Twilight fans with the knowledge that popular coverage appears to be taking the actions of very young fan-girls as indicative of being something other than very young fan-girls negotiating wanting to fuck boys (or maybe each other) in a world that frequently tells them their desire to do so is dirty.
In addition, I’m not sure what the alternative would be to screaming fan girl style behaviour for a young woman growing up in our whacked out “fetishism of the commodity” world. As a grown-up, I guess I feel that a healthy sex reaction to a text FOR ME PERSONALLY is to own and accept the fact that commodity is what’s going on, and that I am, in fact, objectifying someone. But in the interests of full disclosure, I actually find that ownership quite hard to do, being as I have to admit that I’m horny, and also that my desires might impact upon somebody else. Neither of these admissions are hugely comfortable for a lapsed Catholic girl.
And I sure as fuck couldn’t have done that at ten. No, my love for Jonathan Brandis was clean and pure and maybe I would kiss him a little but mostly we would be boyfriend and girlfriend. Compare this to my recent re-watch of BSG, where I suddenly, for the first time, noticed that Jamie Bamber was really fucking hot. And hey, Jamie Bamber, if you’re a Roddy’s Film Companion fan, please be assured that I don’t want to date you, and I’m sorry if I’m making you feel weird. I just like looking at your body when it’s on TV. Yes, it’s that simple, and BSG knows all about it, which is, I assume, why they kept putting you in those tiny, tiny towels like in the pic. As Sam Beckett would say, “oh boy!” So there’s that.
Look, the point is, whatever the fuck Twilight is, the trusim of “sex sells” applies to women too. And there are a shitload of problems with that, but they’re not any of the ones the papers are writing about.
Rewrite my dissertation’s introductory use of Foucault’s History of Sexuality to “activate the theory”, as it were (right now it kind of just says “you know Foucault, right? Okay, moving on…”)
What I’m doing instead:
- I found Sharon Valerii’s myspace today. I have no particular reason for telling you this, except that in my perfect world, fanfic Sharon would be written by Felice Marshall, a bio-ethicist in my acquaintance. I really want this to happen. I keep dropping subtle hints. Felice, are you reading this? If so, please send me emails as if you are Sharon. PS: See you tomorrow for BSG and excellence.
-Also BSG related, I made the following:
Because I am THAT LAME.
- I hung around on facebook for a bit. There was this:
As Kurt Vonnegut Jnr. once wrote, children of suicides seldom do well. My own father took this particular option when I was eleven or so, and I guess I’ve done variably. I was angry with him for a long time, but eventually I started to miss him. One of the things I miss is that he used to be really fucking good on the 12 string. He sang beautifully too, and his music taste was about the same as mine eventually became. He had a band for a while (he was at University in Dunedin in the late seventies and early eighties, after all) but I haven’t got any recordings of that, nor any of his own songs, if he ever wrote them. The only tape I’ve got has him playing and singing ‘House of the Rising Sun’ and ‘Sounds of Silence’ like a true-blue middle-class hippie. I play guitar and banjo but he and I never played together, though sometimes back then I used to sing along – I sang in church, and with choir, and for Christmas, and sometimes with him. Though not often, since he preferred an audience to a team.
So this post is for Dr. David Kenealy. There’s a lot I wish we could have said to each other, Dad. Here are some of the things I wish you’d said to me.
First off: Loudon Wainwright III, Rufus is a Tit Man
Okay guys, I know this is a creepy as fuck song, but this seemed far more appropriate than any of those ones where Loudon tries to prove that he doesn’t *ahem* suck as a parent. Dad didn’t smoke, of course (because it caused cancer) but he was a giant child, just like Loudon, as well as being reflexively sexist. I’d love it if, somewhere, there was record of him admitting that!
And while we’re listening to Wainwright, I’ll admit that I prefer his cover of
Peter Blegvad’s, Daughter
It’s the line “I lost every time I fought her” that really gets me. In my little girl heart, I sometimes imagine my dad would have been proud of how smart I am. And I know we would have fought like fuck about politics. But I would have won, because everything I believe is a logical extension of things he taught, or failed to teach me. He, like me, was a science fiction humanist, so he wavered between accidental libertarian-nerdcore and bleeding heart fucking liberal. In some quarters, particularly in low-income areas that weren’t getting the attention they needed from public health, my dad is still remembered as a hero. In this fantasy, he offers me his respect.
As I say, I’ll admit to preferring the Loudon Wainwright III cover, and I was going to compound the uncomfortably intimacy of this post by using on of the many YouTube vids made of people’s daughters, to the song (usually as gifts, apparently.) There are so many, but I couldn’t decide which one. Not to mention the fact that it seemed a bit off to imbricate a loving gift to a child into an adult’s blog post about suicide. So you’ve just got Loudon. (UPDATE: And bonus daughter, Lucy Wainwright Roche, singing with him on ‘You Can’t Fail Me Now,’ if you care to stick around.)
Next up we have Miley & Billy Ray Cyrus singing Butterfly fly Away
As my husband puts it, Miley is singing to everyone else, but Billy Ray is singing to her.
And now for Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Rest of the Dream
I wasn’t a planned child at all, it’s just that my dad was Catholic. But then, my mum says they really, really loved each other, so maybe it wasn’t all bad. Maybe they would have gotten married anyway, even without me. She says they were happy together, some of the time.
And then, Bruce Springsteen’s Long Time Comin’
We’re all fucked up by our parents, you know. I might have been fucked up by mine, but they were fucked up theirs just as much. Dad and I might have talked about that, one day. We’re pretty similar. I’m a lot like my mum, but I’m my dad’s kid too: a combination of comic books, Warren Zevon, and being extremely suspicious of people that love you. The difference is, I’m trying to change. Dad might have done that too, maybe.
Lastly, Dave Dobbyn, Beside You
I always liked this song, even as I fully acknowledge its twee, advertisey kiwiana-ness. It’s just that lyrically, it reminds me of my Dad. My mum agrees, and in fact that’s why I first heard it.
You see, Dad was pretty useless a lot of the time. He was wildly intelligent, but he was also very selfish, and applying his intelligence to overcoming this selfishness, for his kids, or for whichever one of his wives, never really occurred to him. I think he regretted that though, (in fact, one assumes that committing suicide was probably indicative of some of those regrets.) But that’s kind of what this song is about.
Also, I like it because I remember travelling with him on the “blinding Desert Road” when I was little. Dad liked James Taylor a lot, and I remember him thrashing the shit out of ‘Fire and Rain’ while the sky got darker and the layers of rock seemed higher than I could see. They were shot through with orange sunlight, like the dusk was carrying them away to some other place. I was so small then that the world was huge, and my dad always drove like he was in a road movie.
My Dad did a lot of shit like it was a movie. Then it ended. I guess that was what happened. Movies end. So do blog posts.
I am a person for whom the world’s smallest violin continuously plays. I whine a lot, often via email. Or, hey, on this blog. But this is why there are people who give wise counsel. This little series is a token of my appreciation to those people.
Good Advice #2
“French fry when you pizza, you’re gonna have a bad time.”
My feelings about South Park go up and down. Sometimes I really like it (The Britney Spears episode, for example) other times (the motorcycle “fags” episode) I just feel like sending Matt and Trey DVDs of Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me a River, since it seems like a lot of the episodes are about *whine* how annoying it is that *whine* not everybody is cool enough to be cynical like them. It must be so hard to be Matt and Trey in a world where not everyone is a privileged American white-boy :’(
But they’ll always have a special place in my heart, if only for saying this:
This is good advice. Really. Not just for skiing. Since basically what it says is, if you set yourself up with a structure that cannot perform the task you ask it to, it won’t work. French fry cannot help you stop, and pizza cannot help you go. If you start an argument where the first proposition is unresolvable, you’re gonna have a bad time. If you’re trying to reassure yourself against a false assumption, you’re gonna have a bad time. If you tell yourself that nobody likes you, even though it is physically impossible to read people’s minds and know for sure, you’re not gonna have fun skiing.
My husband and I say this to each other regularly, often about destructive thinking patterns, particularly those built around those special, cyclic logical fallacies at the centre of low self-esteem. What we do is, after identifying the problem at the heart of the emotionally flawed argument our beloved is making about why they’re a shitty person doomed for failure, is to say: “…you french fry when you pizza, you’re gonna have a bad time.” “Yes but this is all based on you thinking you’ve got to be perfect. French fry when you pizza…”, “Uh huh, sure, but what I’m hearing is that we must solve all of the world’s problems by tomorrow. French fry when you pizza…”, ”trying to reassure yourself you’re cool by making South Park episodes that are basically you arguing with your critics? French fry when you pizza, guys, you’re gonna have a bad time.”
Look, I just keep forgetting to take my folio to work, so I can scan some stuff on my break. Also, there’s a lot of hate out there for webcomics that don’t update properly so part of me wants to be cantankerous and avoidy just because I can. Let me get get record straight here, y’all: there is no way I will ever make a living from art. This allows me to rule my own webcomics fifedom in the manner I see fit.
But here’s some stuff to tide you over:
1: You should totes go and download issue 4 of Radio as Paper if you haven’t already. I have an article in it – it’s part one of my American Triptych, even. Before I wrote about 2012 and BSG and the end of American Days, I wrote about Bruce Springsteen, and the case for judicious nationalism. Here is the first paragraph:
If I had to pick one song to explain to you what Bruce
Springsteen was all about, I’d pick ‘Reason to Believe’. It’s
the last song on Nebraska, the four-track acoustic album
that I usually use to make a convert out of a critic. Patriotic
pop trash, is he? (this is how the argument always goes.) Not
on this fucking album, bub. On this album, he is Woody
Guthrie. Yes, Woody Guthrie. Okay, so maybe every song
isn’t written in ‘D’, but this land is for surely his fucking
land. Listen to the damn album! (I get quite forceful here,
because I’m usually drunk by the time I put the record on
the turntable, hence my judicious use of the word “fucking”.)
Listen to this, motherfucker! And learn!
2. God fucking damn I miss geology. This is what the class of 2007 made for their end of year thingie. It is HILARIOUS, and for me, bitter sweet.
But, Vampires, you are also, as a cursory glance through the source text has reminded me, a bit about capitalism. Actually quite a lot about capitalism. I mean, Louis is New Money, right? Middle-class. He is a rising member of the bourgeoise. Then Lestat comes along, and he’s like, “hey Louis, you wanna be an aristocrat? I’m one, it’s totally cool.” And then Louis is like, “well, I am miserable… okay, I guess. But wait… do I really have to drink the blood of the worker?” and Lestat is, like, “Louis, that’s, like, the whole fucking deal.”
This isn’t the only reading, obviously, but when my husband and I were watching the movie again last night, it was one we found very satisfying. You know, how Lestat makes Louis stay with him by making him a baby daughter? And then Louis has to stop self-flagelating about killing because he wants Claudia to be happy? Yeah, that’s kind of Foucault’s whole thesis about the family unit right there. ”God kills indiscriminately, and so shall we,” Lestat eventually says, “AND NO I DID NOT STEAL THIS SPEECH FROM AYN RAND.” Oh, it goes on. You’re still sexy, vampires, don’t worry. But you’re sexy in a capitalist way, and I think that is going to be a problem.
Wow, that was a really long preamble for the fact that this fan-video by stckytree I found is kind of about that, and also is really fucking funny. Enjoy!