these badasses, fireflyforest crossed my path when i was on tour with my band, antioquia. i think their album deserves a grammy, honestly. the instrumentation is exquisite, the execution and production totally professional, yet innocent. this album, these artists, offer, they don’t demand. there’s a humility and a playfulness that is heartbreaking. this song in particular gets me every time. enjoy.
just quickly.. more fun facts innocently omitted from the birthright tour! remember sderot? it was built on the palestinian village of najd. the palestinians were driven out of that village and into gaza. so when you form a mental image of gazans brutally firing rockets on the people of sderot, add to your mental image that they used to be the people of sderot.
some things about yesterday…
thanks for all the positive feedback everyone! i will keep writing. we were up til 2am last night, everyone trying desperately to record what they’d been through during the day because we all knew it was way too much to just remember. elliot and brett were struggling with whether to post their pictures and opinions on facebook, wondering if they would offend their new israeli friends, or start an online conflict that they weren’t up for. i think they ended up going for it.
my mind is blown. i’m going to impose on all of you a little diary of my experience in the west bank since even i, the skeptic, feel like some unlearning is already taking place.
ok, enough! i can’t take it, not in one day. first i see the hobbit, a movie which has exactly one named female character, then i look at juxtapoz’s “best of 2012” display featuring bic pen illustrations by juan francisco casas and i see the portrait that you can observe above. funny, right? isn’t it edgy? i mean, it pushes the envelope, right? because you see, it’s a pretty woman, half-naked, with a bag over her head. deep, right? it’s offensive and dirty, and yet, it’s well done. isn’t that just radical? doesn’t it just make you want to study art history and third-wave feminism all at once just to begin to even digest it?
1) juxtapoz, god damn it. this is bullshit.
i used to like juxtapoz back when it was all about graffiti and cutting edge art. now every single fucking issue has disturbing masogonistic art in it. every issue. women only appear in that magazine as sex objects, usually reduced to parts of their bodies, sometimes portrayed as the victims of violence or ridicule. and pretty much only one body type. the portrait above was done entirely in bic pen. so juxtapoz encourages us to “focus on the skill involved,” but how can i, when half of the magazine is mid-coital naked women? what is this? erotica? it’s not even that. it’s porn passing as art, stupid porn at that. and i’m tired of being expected to be impressed. apologies are in order.
2) why is there only one woman with a speaking part in all of the hobbit?
what, there’s no women in middle earth? no female orcs? how do they reproduce exactly? do they spawn from each other’s weird orc and dwarf genitalia? are female elves relegated to playing the flute for guests? ok, fine, so no women are on the journey with them, well what about flashbacks? there’s no dwarf queen to speak of? and of cooooooourse there’s no female wizard! i mean, that would be unthinkable, right? an old, wise, and awesomely powerful, woman? who ever heard of such a thing. even in fantasy, that’s really pushing it. and sure, you could blame all of this on tolkien. he wrote the story and it’s a classic so no messing with a classic. except, they did mess with it! they totally freakin’ messed with it!
according to this article, which cites 19 differences between the novel and the movie, geladrial (the only female character in the film, played by cate blanchett), wasn’t originally in the hobbit at all. the producers actually thought they needed to add a female presence to the movie to get people to watch it. well, good for them, but why stop there? after all, they were also willing to change the main character, thorin from a fat, greedy, insolent, and inexperienced leader into a dashing, noble, and completely virtuous king. the pale orc, his arch-nemesis, barely played a role in the book, so pretty much all the details about him were made up. also radagast, the animal-loving, mushroom-munching, brown wizard doesn’t appear at all in the book. so clearly hollywood is willing to insert characters, embellish characters, change characters, etc… for the sake of saving the box office. geladriel was inserted because most people don’t like watching a bunch of smelly dudes for two and a half hours. they need some beauty. but beauty isn’t the only thing women are capable of, and i believe, that’s not all people want to see women do.
an interesting part of bilbo’s history was that his mother might have been part-faerie. when gandalf reminds bilbo that he is “a took,” he’s referring to bilbo’s mother, belladonna. from the article in the beast, “while the mixing of hobbit and fairy blood in bilbo is never confirmed, it is his mother’s remaining influence that is said to give bilbo his increased spark for adventure.” wouldn’t it have been fun if the producers had decided to expand on this mysterious little nugget of information for the film? what a perfect way to explore an interesting female character! but no, they actually left this detail out completely.
my point is, if you’re willing to modernize the story a bit, then you should also take into account the fact that women deserve better. they deserve to be portrayed truthfully, even in fantasy. and that means showing them strong, showing them conflicted, showing them fat, showing them short, showing them fighting, showing them gross, showing them wise, etc… i actually don’t think anyone would be amazed or offended. and who knows? maybe if more film-makers made it a point to have a larger and more truthful female presence in their films, the consistent income inequalities and difference in opportunities between men and women would shrink as a result.
3) women have a place in fantasy too
it’s really, really important that women occupy space in the fantasy realm. it’s ironic, given all the fantasizing that men do about women all day, that they have such a hard time finding roles for them in fantasy art. but look guys, women do more than get naked or look beautiful. and if you don’t know what else it is that they do, maybe you should get some more female friends. i don’t believe that artists should think purely about being politically correct, but i do think that if you look at a huge amount of your work, and find that it consistently neglects the role of women, or provides a consistently damaging portrayal of women as mere sex objects, or pure providers of moral guidance, then you need to rethink your attitudes and maybe consciously start confronting those attitudes in your art. better yet, collaborate with women! women have great ideas about how women should fit into your story, or your art! the sooner women are truly capable of anything in our imaginations, the sooner little girls will start to believe that they are truly capable of anything in reality.
i hear it so often… “i just love that song’s lack of pretentiousness!” people say it as a way of justifying their delight in a stupid song. usually it’s enjoyable, digestible music that doesn’t push any buttons or ruffle any feathers. well i say pooey to that. ruffle my feathers, damn it! give me something to puzzle over. i want pretentiousness over frivolity any day! why? because
1) people who get offended by art are insecure and need to get over it
i know i know. some art is pretentious because it “looks down” on its audience. it acts “superior” and “snobby,” its meaning dancing around you like a cat toy that you’ll never catch. ok but here’s the thing: though it may seem like that’s what is happening, art is in fact, inanimate. and very, very rarely were the intentions of the artist to actually make you feel like an idiot. the artist is almost always trying to express something personal to you, whether they were on the mark or off it. however, just suppose for a second that the artist did want you to feel like an idiot. that wouldn’t hurt your feelings unless somewhere deep down you worried that you might actually be one, right? so listen, you’re not an idiot, but if you continue to listen to dumbed-down music just because it doesn’t ignite your fears that you might not be quite so culturally sophisticated after all, then you’re kind of sealing your own fate.
2) art should be risky business
it’s totally legit to write a song with the goal of making someone shake their booty really hard on the dance floor. that’s just great. but there’s plenty of music out there already doing that. what about a song that makes you want to bang your head against the wall, or a song that makes you want to climb a tree and hang upside down, or maybe even a song that makes you want to end war and plant gardens? we need that kind of stuff, and art, like nothing else, has the ability to inspire people to act. however, to do that, art must take risks, and one reason why artists sometimes don’t take risks is a fear of coming across as pretentious. we have to accept their unintended pretentiousness with ease if we are going to encourage artists to be risky, and risk is what we need!
3) cool is over-rated
cool is amazing! cool is great! cool is rad! but it isn’t everything! one thing that’s going on when someone says a song is “pretentious” is that the song wasn’t quite cool enough to make them sit through it. it didn’t press all their little neon, sunglassed buttons enough to keep them interested. we need to let go of those buttons, because ultimately, those buttons put art in a box and dictate how we are supposed to enjoy not only art, but also life. cool is a shortcut to our limbic system, a magic bullet designed to fill our penetrate quickly and fill our brains with pleasure-shrapnel. but its effects can also be short-lived and superficial. if a piece of art doesn’t press those cool buttons, then it often takes you a second to figure out how to digest it. it isn’t prepackaged for you like a christmas present. the process of perceiving it can then be a lot more active, which in turn might even spark your creativity, or just wake you up and remember that you’re alive.
4) the world needs pretension
perhaps a reason that pretension bothers people is that it signals that the artist believes they are more than a mere mortal. perhaps the artist thinks that they are amazing, genius, “god’s gift to music,” whatever. i think, isn’t that a better thing to believe than the former? granted, it’s obnoxious when someone’s belief that they are brilliant includes a belief that you are not, but i think that the embedded offense is usually not there, but rather a projection born of insecurity (see point 1). what would the world be like if we all believed we were brilliant and weren’t afraid to make art that showed everyone just how brilliant we were? i like the idea of that world much better than one where everyone’s falling over themselves to appear unengaged and average.
so you know what, guys? bring it on. i can take it. show me something absolutely amazing, and i won’t call you pretentious, i’ll call you brave!
and while i’m at it, here are some of my favorite pretentious videos.
from left: gabby la la, rachel (aka lark for the purposes of this blog), micropixie (aka neshma friend), and drea roemer what an incredible night! neshma (micropixie) threw the whole thing in her micromuseum, a special little nook full of … Continue reading
hi everyone! i’m really excited about this wordpress page. i think i’ll upgrade it soon to a .com but for now this will do. i’ll try to post as much interesting stuff as i can so that you keep reading it. and eventually that will make me famous. and if stuff isn’t interesting enough, you can tell me, or you can post your own interesting stuff. that could be cool. enjoy!