28 posts tagged soc
Let’s just leave it at that this was the best 35 minutes of reading I had so far today: Moe Tkacik discussing at great length everything from the economy, American Apparel, Gawker Media and Jezebel and that Redbook cover that put Jezebel on my (and probably your) daily radar to begin with, that whole Emily Gould scandal, personal vs private, journalism vs branding/advertising, The Wall Street Journal, personal psychology of being a writer/journalist/blogger in this day and age, New York and microfame, the effect of the internet on journalism, thing which are tangentially related to about 18 conversations I’ve had about these things in the past two weeks, and a lot of crap which probably interacts with why I’m sitting here keeping a fashion blog laughing sarcastically at any lofty/naieve/stupid writerly/arty childhood dreams I had and breaking down over journalism vs photojournalism vs art photography vs fashion photography vs fashion media vs “real media” vs offensively targeted “women’s media” vs my rusting English major vs this sentence isn’t even making sense anymore but basically it was a great read.
Dear readers — of which there are, somehow, thousands of you (why?! how?! when!?) — I know you’re all here from idle clicking or to look at photos of my shoes and of skinny girls in absurd dresses or whatever, but this is the stuff I want you to read and want you to talk about — and want to know what you think too. This is important, this is what I actually want you to read and care about and comment and talk about.
And another disclaimer: nothing I’m going to say here is new; everything are ideas expressed by other people as well, often more eloquently, and many of which I’ve posted before — Jenna at Jezebel, the girls at Threadbared, a lot of the wonderful ladies on my blogroll, some of the other commenters at Contexts, some of the lovely folks who also post at TFS — everyone has these ideas, and there is a lot more to be said about it. I’m just getting it out there with how and why I agree.
I am sick and tired of hearing that fashion is stupid, silly, inane, shallow, for girls, a waste of time, consumerist, idiotic, antifeminist, misogynistic, pathetic, etc, etc, ad nauseam, and this is why.
In honor of NYFW starting on one of the most abysmally bad-weather days of the year to date, two (totally unrelated, but equally awesome!) things. First, above slideshow of ladies managing to look put-together (and warm, and not prone to ankle-breaking) despite presumably terrible cold and icy conditions.
And second: 1888 saw one of the worst blizzards in NYC history, which dropped almost 2 feet of snow (with drifts up to 20 feet) over the entire eastern seaboard in March of that year. It destroyed telegraph wires (which at the time were all above ground — easy to forget that the whole city was once crisscrossed with even more wires than you see now), totally knocked out transportation in the city for weeks (big yellow plows: not around then), froze the East River solid (interfering with shipping and business across the nation), and caused hundreds of deaths. There’s a ton of fascinating stuff on this all over the internet, partially due to an exhibition on the storm in 1998 — plenty of incredible images here, info and personal accounts here, and a handful of newspaper articles from the time here.
So how is this relevant to today’s street fashion shots? One of the above articles from the Sun mentions the difficulty of maneuvering in a snowstorm in petticoats and hints at the discomfort and shame of having to gather one’s skirts to clamber over snowdrifts. (Though of course, only working-class women needed to do this — and besides, it wouldn’t do to mention a wealthy woman showing her ankles in the street!! Note that the Sun was apparently the most politically conservative NY paper at the time.)
Few of the women who work for their living could get to their work places. Never, perhaps, in the history of petticoats was the imbecility of their designer better illustrated. “To get here I had to take my skirts up and clamber through the snowdrifts,” said a wash-woman when she came to the house of the reporter who writes this. She was the only messenger from the world at large that reached that house up to half past 10 o’clock.
“With my dress down I could not move half a block,” It was so with thousands of women; the thousand few who did not turn back when they had started out. Thus women were seen to cross in front of THE SUN office and at many of the busiest corners up town. But all the women in the streets assembled together would have made a small showing. They are said to be much averse to staying in, but they stayed in as a rule yesterday. At half past 10 o’clock not a dozen stores on Fulton street in this city, had opened for business. Men were making wild efforts to clean the walks, only to see each shovelful of snow blown back upon them and piled against the doors again.
“Have the girls come?” an employer asked of his partner. “Girls!” said the porter: “I have not seen a woman blow through Fulton street since I’ve been here.”
I know I for one have a tendency to romanticize those hoop skirts and corsets and hook-and-eye boots and whatnot, but the fact is that for centuries, the link between women’s clothing and their oppression in society was undeniable — they were physically limited by the social limits of propriety in fashion, making even the most basic of tasks near impossible. Shorter, looser dresses, pants, less restrictive undergarments, less ridiculous hats, easier hairstyles, and more practical shoes were things women actually fought for and which took years to turn around (let’s not forget how revolutionary Coco Chanel was at her time) — and a conservative newspaper’s recognition of the “imbecilic” design of petticoats fascinated me here. I also was surprised by their choice to blame of women’s required fashion (and to dismiss those requirements as idiotic!) rather than their inherent laziness/smallness/immorality/stupidity/whatever usual excuses to explain their staying in — there just was no respectable or possible option other than to stay in when the weather was bad, and everyone accepted that as fact. (Though perhaps the male writer was just excited to have a reason to express a frustration he’d met with petticoats in the past? Wink wink, nudge nudge.)
Point: I’m pretty psyched about my jeans and combat boots today, and would also like to extend a personal thank-you to my Rodarte-for-OC sweatshirt. You were worth the money.
…being anti-fashion leads to a false notion that we can be in bodies that aren’t modified, and that any intentional modification or decoration of your body is politically undesirable because it somehow buys into the pitfalls of reliance on appearances…..
…More importantly, when we appeal to some notion of an unmodified or undecorated body, we participate in the adoption of a false neutrality. We pretend, in those moments, that there is a natural body or fashion, a way of dressing or wearing yourself that is not a product of culture. Norms always masquerade as non-choices, and when we suggest that for example, resisting sexism means everyone should look androgynous, or resisting racism means no one should modify the texture of their hair, we foreclose people’s abilities to expose the workings of fucked up systems on their bodies as they see fit.
More of that “fashion is for smrt people too” quote-mongering habit of mine….
I’m not saying that fashion consumers are “fashion victims” (a sexist and anti-feminist description that implies irrational consumerism); I’m just suggesting that fashion consumers are not only political-sartorial actors but are also market actors whose range of consumer choices are embedded in a larger ethical-economic system that has long produced and managed consumer citizens by moralizing consumption. To celebrate sustainable fashion or inversely to denigrate fast fashion (the term itself inherits all the negative classist associations of fast food) is to forget that these sartorial spheres are stratified across class differences. Eco-fashion is expensive! So are the most coveted “vintage” fashions….. I get that the temporal trajectory and logics of thrift/vintage aren’t the same as Fashion but I’m not convinced that thrift/vintage is the feminist answer to fashion consumption…. That view presumes that Fashion is inherently anti-feminist; it also demands that we have a nostalgic relation to the past.
— Minh-Ha of Threadbared, from an extremely long and interesting conversation on the politics + motivations of shopping and thrifting. Just in case you too are an asshole who gets off on phrases like “politics of sample sales,” “sartorial-ideological positions,” “commodification of ephemerality” and “valorization of vintage as postmodern historical borderlessness.”
This is exactly the kind of garbage that I end up creaming my sociology-pants over for days: interactive maps of Netflix rentals and queues in twelve major metropolitan areas, and the fascinating endless cultural/demographic/social/economic/movie-distribution-budget-etc information you can glean from that. Guess what, guys? Mad Men is for urban rich white people, mostly in NYC (Denver doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Don Draper.) Will Smith movies are for the suburbs and middle America! Nobody outside of very major metropolitan areas (the only places where, to the best of my knowledge, the film was in theatres) cared about Man on Wire! My current zipcode rented Milk most this year, whereas in the area where I grew up that honor goes to, uh, Twilight. The distribution by critics is also interesting and makes it pretty obvious that critical reception and public reception/interest are, uh, not exactly clearly correlated.
In the desert 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles is a suburb abandoned in advance of itself—the unfinished extension of a place called California City. Visible from above now are a series of badly paved streets carved into the dust and gravel….The uninhabited street plan has become an abstract geoglyph—unintentional land art visible from airplanes—not a thriving community at all.
My minor/correllate in college was this completely fabricated (and completely awesome) linguistics/anthropology/media studies track which I somehow got the anth department to approve and call “langauge, new media, and expressive culture.” Which basically came down to a lot of crap about, like, what languages people use on their Facebook walls, how blogs perpetuate certain linguistic style amongst their commenters to create a community (Gawker vs Perez vs HRO), the fact that abbreviations for texting/tweeting etc are creative adaptations to constrants and not the end of the English language (fuck you, prescriptivists), what the actual logic of cat macro text (“LOLSPEAK”) is and academizing other various 4chan garbage and memes, and then an awful lot using Google for statistics on when and where phrases or alternate spellings became popular. Man, was that all useless and awesome or what.
Point of all that was that I totally miss it a few years later, which is why things like this make me cream my linguistpants. (Also, you know, links including Monty Python sketches never hurt anyone.) Top records / videos / films of the year? Yawn (though I’m sure I’ll post my own lists at some point.) Top searched words of the year at Merrimam-Webster??! Hell yes! Dictionary.com’s top lists are a bit less reassuring though - I’m not sure if I should be depressed or proud of the American public that so many of them needed to look up the definition of “socialism.”
AND FACEBOOK IS CLEARLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEGRADATION OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE! KIDS TODAY!!11!!!11
Always interesting for perspective on beauty standards — a diagram of the perfect/ideal beauty type from 1930. Bit different than today. [via Buzzfeed]
CMJ this year was a bit more laid back for me than usual, with less client, photography, and friend obligations than in the past, meaning I had more freedom to run around and see what I wanted as I pleased. I managed to catch The XX again, twice — check out above the most feed-back free youtube video of one of last week’s performances I could find. My boyfriend and I have had a conversation about 47 times about how we think The XX and Fever Ray are probably the only two records this year that we really, really loved. And so, being unable to do anything without constant hyperactive metanarrative, I keep trying to figure out assorted reasons why precisely I think this band is so awesome.
Before we get into anything, let’s admit that much of my iPod is white-boy indie rock (there’s no dislike for many of the bands mentioned here) and that I am specifically talking about precisely that genre. And let’s also put out the disclaimer there that I know this disregards complex analyses discussing hip hop vs indie rock and all kinds of issues surrounding race and music, the band’s self-proclaimed R+B influence and penchant for covering artists like Aaliyah means that the cultural/racial aspect of this can’t be denied either. Which also raises more uncomfortable questions about racial/cultural fetishization… as well as bringing up other issues such as white artists covering - and thereby making commercially marketable - songs by minority artists in the early days of blues/jazz… and its inverse in the segregation of the music industry into ‘rock/pop’ and ‘urban’ as argued somewhat questionably here by Sascha Frere-Jones.) So let’s put ourselves in a useless, hypothetical vacuum of American college radio bands, and The XX.
When we’re talking about “indie rock,” it’s difficult to not acknowledge that most of it is clean and sterile and, well, waspy; it’s a bunch of overeducated rich kids feeling sad and anxious about everything, deconstructing and analyzing their role in the universe (uh, Arcade Fire?) or reflecting cynically on boredom and indifference (‘sup, Wavves?) or bemoaning dirge-like on illness and life (hey Antlers, Bon Iver) or musing quasi-poetically on some Americana bullshit with no personal or intellectual meaning (Fleet Foxes, anyone?). Let’s pretend that all stands alone in the universe and disregard all possible racial/cultural/genre commentary (we could and maybe should write a few dozen dissertations on sex and gender and race in music, I’m sure) — fact is, “white boy indie rock” is largely desexualized, depersonalized, overintellectualized, and far, far too self-aware. What do we have for songs about relationships? Get Up Kids records hidden under the bed? Some hip hop or pop record we despicably brag about liking to appear diverse and quirky?
The XX (to quote infinite terrible reviews which probably just basically re-hash their press release) write ‘stripped-down minimalist pop songs’ with ‘an R+B influence.’ Which mean they’re based on slow grooves, simple hooks, and alternating male-female vocals with primarily cheeseball relationship and sex references for lyrics: “I am yours now / so I don’t ever have to leave… I’m froze by desire” or “Maybe I had said something that was wrong / Can I make it better with the lights turned out?” or “If you want me / why go? / I can give it all on the first date.” Too straightforward and blatant, maybe, but oddly refreshing — no concerns here about little gods turning every good thing to rust, or blood banks or cancer hospitals. These are simple, catchy songs about doing it, or wanting to do it, or having feeeeeelings about people you may or may not do it with — appealing primarily to an entire generation and audience trained to have a panic attack or three when any of those concepts come up. And I think that’s pretty awesome.