“Beauty is not important,” she said. “You have to be interesting, someone who is different to other people. Otherwise you just turn up and look beautiful, and there’s nothing more to you.”
I’m not defending Miley, her choices look like desperation to me and it’s sad she can’t find a more productive way to challenge audiences if that’s what she’s aiming for.
She’s rejecting the burden of being a role model. Flaunting her right to selfishness. And I personally find that a weak, uninspired choice.
She has successfully managed to get everyone talking about her, if that was her goal.
Regardless, the discussion of cultural appropriation is larger than her.
it’s disempowering to continue to portray black culture as a sort of inert, powerless thing that is capable only of fluttering feebly as it’s plundered by privileged white people.
The problem with Miley may not be that she is inspired by “black” culture but that no one believes it. No one complains about Eminem rapping because number one (even if you don’t like him) he is talented and because we believe him. It feels genuine. Miley lacks authenticity, and that’s annoying people. No one likes a poseur.
And somewhere in all of this, I suspect, we are questioning marketplace value. The outrage is the sound of self-respecting, hard working Americans struggling to make ends meet asking, “She’s making millions … for that?”
“What were in effect doing is training children to see that women and girls are less important than men and boys. Were training them to perceive that women take up only 17 percent of the space in the world,” she says. “And if you add on top of that, that so many female characters are sexualized, even in things that are aimed at little kids, thats having an enormous impact as well.”
-Geena Davis, founder of The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Reno describes the 3 am movie. (It is Barbara Loden’s Wanda):
A baby crying in the arms of a woman whose face was puffy from sleep. Her hair matted and pillow dented. The scene was familiar but I could not place it. The camera moved to a prettier woman on a couch. She sat up, thin and blonde, with a weed-like vitality, looked out the window at a front loader pushing coal waste around.
The prettier woman had ditched her husband and kids and was about to set off on a series of sketchy adventures with a jumpy, anxious man.
The point of the film was not the stark life in a coal mining town, although that was how Sandro had read it, the human element of industry.
It was about being a woman, about caring and not caring what happens to you. It was about not really caring.
Coal came in different sizes, Sandro had explained after we saw the film.
Names like lump, stoker, egg, and chestnut.
The woman in the movie goes to court and tells the judge she’s no good, her kids are better off without her. Her calm and snowy face. A person quietly letting her life unravel. Because of her beauty there would be no unnecessary detours through vanity.
The woman in the film was already beautiful and had to confront her life directly. She was driven to destroy herself and because of her beauty, free to do so.
She tries to collect the rest of her pay at a sweat shop.
What can I do for you, Lover?
The shift boss in thick glasses, his eyes big jelly orbs rolling over her.
Behind him, centering in the frame, the employee punch clock
The woman in the film drinks in a bar
She’s in hair curlers. A chiffon head scarf tied over them like a tarp over a log pile. The hollows of the curlers spaces for hope, something good might happen.
A man bought the woman a beer. She took dainty sips in her hair curlers in preparation for no specific occasion. Curler time seemed almost religious. A waiting that was more important than what the waiting was for. Curler time was about living the now with a belief that a future, an occasion for said hair, existed.
But then she was putting on her ratty underwear and the rest of her clothes and chasing a traveling salesman out of a motel room, abandoning the curlers for good.
Hey, hey – wait up.
I came to rehearse parts of this film. My memory of the scenes returning in more detail as I watched. I began to anticipate – not the lines – though I remembered a few of them, but looks on the woman’s face.
Gazing at department store mannequins as if the possessed something essential and human that she lacked. Mannequins were carefully positioned to look natural, looking off in this direction or that, but never at us.
This was part of the Sears mannequin standard. My mother had worked for a short time as an assistant window dresser at the Sears in downtown Reno. She was given a booklet with a list of instructions. The most important being the no eye contact rule. If the mannequins made eye contact with shoppers they would disrupt the dream. The shoppers’ projection. The mannequins’ job was to sell us to ourselves in a more perfect version for 1999.
But the woman peered at the mannequins for guidance. Examining their enameled makeup. A purse dangling from a stiff arm. A pole supporting each life size figure from behind, disappearing into a hole cut into the rear seam of her slacks.
They each have a pole up their ass, says the sudden wryness in the woman’s face, How bout that?
Her face when Mr. Denis, the jumpy man, tosses her new lemon pants out the window, childlike disappointment.
When you’re with me, no slacks. No slacks.
Tosses her lipstick.
Makes you look cheap.
When you’re with me, no curlers.
Why don’t you get a hat?
You don’t want anything. You won’t have anything. He tells her. You don’t have anything; you’re nothing. You might as well be dead.
Everything goes wrong when they try to rob a bank.
Nearing the end of the film, morning in a deserted sand quarry, the woman wakes up in a car. A soldier unzipping his pants and forcing himself on her. She escapes, runs screaming into the woods in her white sandals. Sling backs Mr. Denis had borrowed from the trunk of a car in the Woolworth’s lot. By luck they had fit her perfectly. She tears though the bramble, scratched, frantic. Half-dressed, half-raped. And falls face down crying. Night at a roadside tavern. Someone fits an unlit cigarette behind her ear. She’s given a hot dog
Chews it, Meek and grateful. Her beer glass is filled and refilled. Honky tonk music plays.
Fiddles eking out cheer as people shout and smoke and drink,
their voices pelting the woman.
You don’t want anything.
You won’t have anything.
You don’t have anything.
The cigarette in her long fingered hand.
Her snow faced beauty, the light of it dim.
The camera frames the woman
Her eyes toward the table.
That’s it. End of film.
The iconography favored by steampunkers—aeronaut goggles, stylized corsets, clockwork gears, mad-scientist laboratories cluttered with Industrial Revolution sprockets and pipes—has found its way into a number of recent stage productions. When Arena Stage artistic director Molly Smith mounted My Fair Lady at her D.C. theatre this winter, she and costume designer Judith Bowden (who had previously collaborated on the musical at Canada’s Shaw Festival) opted to dress the musical’s Cockney characters in sassy steampunk attire.
Every time I watch Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva (hey, it’s one show Francie and I can agree on, don’t make fun) the back of my head is preoccupied trying to figure out who Jackson Hurst who plays Grayson reminds me of…
Duh. The resemblance to Monty Clift is outstanding!
It just so happens that next weekend we’ll be seeing a production of Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit (1944) continuing in Duryea (Luzerne County, Pa.) while at the same time (on Saturday, July 21), 64 miles away, Kicking Mule Theatre Company will present its NYC Fringe bound production of Jean Genet’s The Maids (1947) at NACL Theatre in Highland Lake, NY.
That’s all I need to justify my theater column in next week’s ec/dc.
Sarte was a huge champion of Genet and in the early ’50s would base first a character (Goetz in The Devil and the Good Lord) on Genet and then write an entire book about him- Saint Genet. (Which I just ordered even though I can’t afford such luxuries. It’s probably the nicest thing I’ve done for myself in months so… blah.)
Researching lead me quickly to the page of an experimental theater company from Seattle named Saint Genet, most likely with respect to these French artists.
I’m entranced with its “mission statement,” not entirely because I’ve been asked to write at 13 point “No Manifesto” for John Bromberg’s annual Mudball Festival (this year reimagined as the “NoBall Festival” in August. Naturally, I’m jealous we can’t go see a production of this conmpany’s work in NEPA- another sort of nothingness altogether, but I’ll take the inspiration.
It – the Saint Genet mission, not my yet-to-be-written manifesto- follows here:
Being nothing Saint Genet posses nothing, while secretly pursuing the the emanate possession of everything.Saint Genet is the truth of the blood- marriage between our patriarchal, existential mind, and our maternal, essential ever breaking heart. Both Satan and pestilence. Preferring nothingness to being, tension to enjoyment, substance and will, soul and consciousness, magic and freedom, concept and judgment collide, gnash, beat upon, and scream out again and again our cursed black history. We steal everywhere, against everyone, no one is spared.
Our work is directed with a war like fury and aimed, one may say, against an audience. With a mechanical violence our audience has died, over and over again they have died, and still we keep hacking away at the bloated waxy corpse. In the end, exhaustion and suffering lay our murdering hands beside our victim; the murder is a suicide. Quietly me, you, all of us our hearts pounding, know that no one has the right to forgive, no one has the right to forgive, and tomorrow dawn will break, no one has the right to forgive, tomorrow dawn will break, and nothing is beautiful save that which is not.
We must believe that. Must we not?