Monday, March 18, 2013

Links: Vida’s The Count, Spring Breakers, Ryder Ripps, Akwafina

Hi there.  I usually never post links on this thing because I think the internet is entirely too full of them but I’m making an exception today because what I’ve been doing this past week is a whole lot of computer gazing and not much anything else.  Below are some highlights and lowlights of what I’ve been perusing online or have encountered.  Enjoy.

Vida’s The Count - - I was listening to a radio show, Gabfest, a program produced by Slate, and in their Cultural section they talked about Vida, an online “Women in Literary Arts” website which for the past three years does this thing called The Count in which they break down, via pie chart, the contributions and publications of some of the top literary journals.  Things are looking a wee bit better in some publications, like the Boston Review from pervious years but others are stupendously still uneven, like Harpers and the London Review of Books.  These types of graphs are always a bit compromised as there are factors at play like publishing houses’ acceptance of books etc. that are not included but nonetheless, it is a quick revelation of a disparity that could be and should be done for any field.  It is still a man’s world out there and this will take time and training to overcome.  I have also been thinking about this separately in the context of the visual art world.  The idea of personality and how men are still dominating figures in all sectors of visual arts as they possess an authority that very few women attain.  Is it bravado?  Is it a capacity for confidence? Is it the ability to be highly opinionated and vocal but not being deemed a loud mouth or a bitch?  I think it’s a mix of these things and also the way in which ‘smartness’ is perceived and the way in which this is translated in tone and presentation.  This is mutable though, as much as it seems stacked, things are progressing.  To whine about anything is more then useless but it is good to see little pie charts like Vida’s to watermark what still needs to change and to think about why it is this way and how this can be altered.

Spring Breakers, Amy Taubin Review in ArtForum- - I watched this movie this past weekend and it was not a movie I would say was “good” but it is something that people curious about it should see.  Spring Breakers is the new movie by ciné wunderkind Harmony Korine who is now 40.  It’s a film about a group of girls, four to start, two by the end, who steal there way into spring break hedon-heaven, get arrested, get bailed out by a guy named Alien, played by the charismatic James Franco, rob other spring breakers, engage in gun fellatio, swimming pool threesomes and then shoot lots of rival gang members, who are black, in bikinis and pink ski masks.  Amy Taubin wrote a short review, nay synopsis, of this movie for ArtForum and it is a bit odd to read.  Her overview is correct as most overviews are, but her seemingly enthusiastic? And I say it as a question, because I’m not sure of this either, seems a bit befuddling.  The movie in itself was failing in movie basics, like acting, visuals, and sound design.  There are things in it that I think were intentional, like using ex-Disney stars with sub par acting chops to be improvisational and having very little dialogue to make things significant/insignificant all at once.  What Taubin seems to be doing though is just ‘liking’ this movie and this is probably what most people will also do as it is just weird enough and arty enough to possibly be perceived as “good.”  This ‘liking’ is an interesting reflex.  It has become the new norm in seeing and processing things and it is reductive, and I think a detrimental trend but it is what is real and what is actual to our current time.  Taubin’s review is safe in that is does not do much to consider or to delve into Spring Breakers beyond its surface signifiers and that’s actually just fine but to read it and then to see it is a bit unsettling in that it “drinks the kool aid” of alterna-culture with giant gulps of applaud and almost need.  Film is a form; it deserves at least a challenging conversation. If we stop doing this then things will keep chugging along at the scale and content that we see in all the hit flicks and that is very depressing indeed.

Ryder Ripps, “The Accidental Artist” - - Ryder Ripps wrote an article, of sorts, in response to Brad Troemel’s article, “The Accidental Audience” published in The New Inquiry.  It is a to the point synopsis of what is going on right know regarding ironic uses of consumer culture and how humor changes its contexts and how art can be made from it.  It’s quick enough to read on itself so no need to overview it here.  What made me happy to read it was that it is well written and that it was verbalizing what I think a lot of people think but don’t want to say because the internet is a bully and shit storms are not weathered well by most.  I don’t think a shit storm will brew from this as Troemel actually would thrive from this but it is nice to see a counter voice and it being by Ripps is essential because two bulls of the internet world are the only suitable matches for each other.  The thing that this touches on that I think is most essential is the way that language and the jargon of recent philosophical thought like Foucault, Baudrillard, Žižek etc. are mined and mimed to give authority.  This is something that happens in bulk in academics and in critical writing of the arts and in some instances it makes complete sense to do, but in others it is just a costume for the naked king.  To use words and footnotes of this sort in critiques and analysis of art may merit it to a degree but in large part this results in didactic and dull writing.  One can speak of, refer to, frame, anything the way that they choose, this is fine and should always be abstract, but when others accept this is a definitive proof of worth, then that is possibly one of the most detrimental things to art and in addition is egomaniacal in proving most people are just wankers who need to be corralled.  Troemel is a very smart guy and so is Ripps, I hope greater conversation in this vein occurs between the two.

Akwafina, “My Vag” - There is an Asian girl from New York that is rapping.  I am an Asian girl myself and I’m all about breaking ground on that front but I have to sort of make this face :/ when I watched her videos recently.  In her video, “My Vag” she raps about her vag (vagina for all you over 50s), and how it is way better then yours. It’s goofy, video wise and lyrically, and she is a competent rapper with clean and simple beats which makes it catchy to a degree.  She is sort of like the girls I wrote about in a previous post, Brooke Candy and JUNGLEPUSSY, but Akwafina is like Target while they are like BDSM specialty shops.  Her rap style and presentation is like the every-white-person-loves-him Mackelmore, who also makes goofy raps.   This is fun and fine and actually seems to have a place and makes total sense in rap evolution but it is just sort of blah to me.  I’m not even sure why.  It’s totally catchy and could be talked about in so many meaningfully subversive ways but maybe that’s why I think it’s so blah. It can be but it isn’t.  Call that hating, call that lazy critical thought, all I know is that we will see more of this and that hipsters will love it and in twenty years it will feel like how Cake’s “The Distance” feels today.