Archive for November, 2011
We went to Hebden Bridge last week to see a band I love and also half a band that I love. The first was ChumbaWumba and the second was Becky Unthank from The Unthanks. I remembered all over again why I love country and folk music which does not carry with it all the paraphernalia of celebrity and useless stardom baggage. It is all about the music. All the bands were superb. In fact it was a Folk Festival so we also saw Grace Notes and a young band called Maia.
It is quite a while since I went to see a live band and it made me think about a few things. I do love listening to music on my iPod – either playing through speakers or headphones. But there is something important that digital sound cannot do for you. It is seeing the artists and understanding the physical and emotional WORK that artists do to produce their music that makes the live experience so fantastic. Especially when you see musicians who are really into it all because they have written, arranged or researched the music they are playing. I love the way they look to each other, that they produce music that reacts to the other band members that there is a kind of conversation going on within the band and aslo with the audience. I always feel that when you see a musician who is working so hard to produce the music, that you are being allowed to witness something intimate. Sometimes they even look like they are in pain; there is extreme concentration that you see; sheer physical hard work; enjoyment and a sense of fun – a full range of emotional STUFF. For me this very personal aspect of live music is so important and you cannot get it from your iPod alone.
So this is a post which remembers the value of things that digital reproduction cannot do for us and that it has its limitations.
I am looking forward to having my haircut next week … by one of the hairdressers involved in my research project. It will be quite interesting and different – having your haircut is an intimate thing. You have your hair and head rubbed, and combed and pruned, and crimped and it is all very PROXIMAL. I don’t think I have read any articles before which involve having your haircut by one of the research participants.
So that’s cool.
I am thinking about a number of things in the project …. about the way in which the young women immerse themselves not just in a lot of work where they groom themselves in particular ways to fit a very definite hetero-normative style; they also do the same for other women in a serving type capacity. There are lots of photos in their Facebooks which show them posing in ways that have a postural intertextuality – imitative of styles like Beyonce poses; Kylie stuff even; Britney Spears I can see in the styling. But also they have photos of themselves in prom dresses and sitting in stretch limos. These are all images that can be indexed in global ways. Yet there is also something very LOCAL in the photos … the homey ones show them in English pubs; with very English looking boys who have rottweilers on leads; who are in pubs and clubs that have a very local feel. There seems to be a continuum in their lives that they move across and through and this is all displayed in Facebooks in ways that do not acknowledge the different worlds they operate in.
Often their chat online os very girlish; they talk about their Mums and Dads and they present as daughters, as hairdressers and also as sexual beings. They also adopt language that is quite male at times – positioning women in often sexualised and even brutal ways.
I am looking forward to going to Oxford today to give a seminar and to meeting people from the Education Department – and this will be my first time as a visitor to the University.
This image was sent to my husband in one of those emails that has about 25 jpg attachments. All were ads from the 1960s and 1970s collated presumably because they all seem funny now. Each ad seems now being used to laugh at ‘the way we were’. Old ads depicting a different era, helping us to feel sophisticated and clever and think ‘ How naive we were’. And “so glad we are not like that now’. It’s all a bit smug really.
One way of reading this particular ad is the feminist way: the man is the wage earner and he has kindly bought his grateful wife a Kenwood Chef. She worships him; she is so happy. We the latter day feminists feel she is foolish; a dupe who is unknowingly her husband’s slave. We, in the present tense, are apparently superior.
Nowadays though, media representations of women and technology are more of this variety:
Here the technology is sexy and liberating. The dancing figure is clearly female, loving her life and feeling in control. She has leisure time and she has the cash to buy her own sleek, hold-in-the-hand mobile technology. She is able to dance. She is iPod woman. She is certainly not thinking about cooking (or eating). She only knows dance and fun.
I agree the ‘iPod girl’ seems to be a liberated woman. Not to put too fine a point on it though – she is sexy and a fat woman galumphing about woud not sell the product. All is not as liberated as we pretend. The detail of the graphics are like the gadget itself – cool, cool, super-cool and minimalist – pared down as a dramatic but sparse line drawing (in fact animation) against a dramatic coloured background. The background by the way, is the same as the colours available for the ipods … coming in pink, azure, lime green and whatnot. It is woman aligned with product – or even – woman as product . The marketing campaign did a great job. , (I really like the spoofs by the way). And these are not really about liberation but getting your cash one way or the other.
The Kenwood Chef is now seeing a revival and the whole cooking thing has been re-configured. We have all these TV programmes celebrating the frilly apron style of cooking again. It seems that the zeitgeist stuff of make do and mend; of home baking; of home grown; of ditsy cooky cutesy fashion, is also making a breakthrough and we need no longer feel ashamed of our cooking impulses.
Thank goodness because I wanted one and got one this last week. Yes dear readers. My husband bought it for me and I have been making bread, cakes, soups and even mashing potatoes in it. Because I love technology no matter what. And so we turn back again – is this a fresh look at feminism. I suspect not; I think it is a clever marketing move on the back of the recession, which pretends that if you make it yourself, you are doing it cheaper. But the love affair with technology lives on.
Just do this stuff with your eyes open. It is all consumerism. Whatever.