Monday, September 29, 2008

Kant Attack Ad.

In the spirit of elections season philosophy graduate students, who do not have to teach composition and therefore have too much time on their hands, put together this faux ad.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Bruce LaBruce Film and the Question of "Emo"

The below is a trailer for Bruce LaBruce's new film Otto; or, Up With Dead People, set to CocoRosie.

(watch it before youtube bans it again)

Bruce LaBruce is a Canadian art-porn director whose former films Skin Flick, No Skin Off My Ass, and Hustler White sparked a great deal of controversy. This was particularly the case with his focus on gay sex between nazi skinheads, in the skin titles above, and a scene where an amputee penetrates another man with his leg stump in Hustler White (rumor has it someone had a heart attack in the Homo-a-Go-Go Festival whilst watching said scene).

The film looks like the highest production value LaBruce has had thus far, although I haven't seen all of his films. And it includes shots from an abandoned amusement park in the middle of Berlin, which I broke into last summer with a friend.* However, stylistically (and this may be a result of it being a flick focused on Zombies) the characters and the themes circulate around what may be understood, in the contemporary, as an "emo" aesthetic, which is to say some combination of older 90's "emo" fashion and the goth subculture's german expressionist, sex fascist visual iconography.

The reemergence of "emo" from the grave of the 1990s I have to say I find strangely troubling. What first started with bands like Moss Icon, Rites of Spring, wool sweaters, Winnie the Pooh imagery, and an emphasis on the power of punk-influenced crescendo has somehow gleaned, in its movement in the undercurrents of the internet, etc. the lace umbrella, and oddly over-gelled 1970s razor hair styles, and an emphasis on suffering. The musical and political trappings seem to have been all but lifted out of this new zombie "emo." I remember as a teenager watching the emo bands play with hardcore and crust punk bands in dirty basements, because Columbus had few venues for such bands so they all aggregated under the few that existed, I never could have predicted the strange places "emo" has sprouted up in. And despite the clashing aesthetics at times there seemed to be a kind of solid set of principles (critical of authority and exploitation) that underpinned these different genres or movements.

A student of mine this semester explored the emo riots in Mexico City. Where emo kids were targeted by the children of the bourgeoisie.

Here is an MTV report on the issue:

According, to the video the emo fashion seems clearly unconnected to observers from a politics or a clear musical aesthetic. Rather, it is a subculture often linked to "suffering" and also some interaction between bisexuality (goth) and homosexuality. The historical connection to the earlier version of this subculture, the importance of the archival knowledges that are commonly associated with (musically based) subcultures, are almost altogether absent. Instead, the word "emo" and the visual markers of the movement have survived the graveyard of cyberspace. This is clearly an instance of a purely postmodern subculture. At the same time the search for a meaningful type of expression for queer youth in Mexico (where machismo continues to rule) seems to have some exigence. For me it is difficult for me not to see that this is clearly a kind of need for queer youth and allies to have some social glue (be it aesthetic, etc.), but I have a difficult time dealing with my ambivalence to the subculture's undead status, wiped free of all memory of historical precedent, and lacking in contextual markers, like a postmodern zombie lumbering and hungry for consumerism.

*We seemed to be constantly fleeing from the grounds keeper who sped around in a black honda.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tranny, Please!

The statement above I hope encapsulates the videos below which prominently feature trans folks. It supposedly originated with Project Runway's Christian Siriano, who is perhaps one of the more embarrassing members of the family to be featured in the show's programming, particularly noteworthy for his over use of the word "fierce" and his horrific interpretation of a beehive combined with a '70s razor cut, by way of early 90's emo.

Here he is fetishizing Asian's:

Cazwell, "I seen Beyonce at Burger King."

Calpernia "What not to ask a transperson."

Although, I think Calpernia is right in offering a corrective to seemingly well meaning people who read her as a transperson and want the details, she is at times surprisingly condescending, and possibly a classist. I don't really want to make a judgment about whether Calpernia is actually a classist, but I realize there is often problems articulating critique and elevating one's self or group in the mode of humor or comedy. I tend to think that comedy is largely a reactionary mode of expression (the comedic narrative often demands a wedding at its conclusion).

My suspicions, I guess would jive with Henri Bergson's theory about laughter, that it is a fundamentally social gesture, "it's function is to intimidate by humiliating." He links this in particular to how slapstick comedy tends to render individuals as behaving as "mechanisms." So laughter operates as a social corrective to what Bergson calls "antisocial" tendencies. Regis Debray, author of Praise Be Our Lords: A political education, notes that Che Guevara and Fidel Castro were suspicious and horrified by jokes and were never seen laughing. For Debray this suggests their assumed relationship to the "divinity" of history. I am not clear on what to make of this connection however.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sarah Palin Supports Brutal Ex-Gay Ministries

Check it out here.

Ex-gay ministries and religious demands that one submit their sexual needs to the behest of their religion have produced immense psychological problems and higher rates of suicide for the gays caught in the cross fire. As in Stuart Mathis who committed suicide in front of his LDS Church in an effort to change hearts of those at his church. Let's also not forget the four times rate of teen suicide amongst queer youth in the United States.

Also, this video looking for the mythical gay republican, does a little shit talk and is a little over done with regards to the "sassy" quotient (forwarded thanks to lil' john).

Personally, I've never understood why anyone who is queer is anything but a full fledged left-wing radical. It seems to me the different type of sociality that emerges from same-sex desire demands a rethinking of the social in general. For more on this check out Leo Bersani.