Girls Being Raunchy for No One but Themselves
So International Women’s Day happened, and it got us thinking about certain trends in girl culture right now.
So International Women’s Day happened, and it got us thinking about certain trends in girl culture right now. ¶ In a recent episode of Roderick on the Line, John Roderick talks about going to a Miley Cyrus concert by himself. If you don’t listen to Roderick on the Line, you should know that John Roderick is a 45-year-old rock musician with a lot of dudeness. He isn’t exactly Miley’s target audience so before the show he only knew of her as “the girl who twerks and sticks her tongue out”. He gets there, in his rain coat and dad bucket hat, realizing that he’s the only middle-aged man in an audience of 8-10 000 20-year-old girls, who are all dressed-up “very provocatively”, “like sex workers”.
If you have seen any footage from the Miley Cyrus Bangerz Tour, you know what comes next. In the middle of the stage,
there’s a 10-story-tall picture of Miley Cyrus, the mouth opens on the picture... and a giant tongue unfurls, revealing itself to be a slide. And then Miley Cyrus appears in her own mouth, waves to the crowd, and slides down her own giant tongue onto the stage.
John Roderick explains that, contrary to his first impression, he watches the show in utter amazement, slowly understanding that Miley Cyrus is in complete control of every aspect of her career.
The whole event was completely unironic. There was no cynicism to it. The net result was a total positivity towards the 8-10000 girls all dressed like sex workers. You realize that they are not dressing like that for the male gaze, because there are no men here. They are dressing like that for one another, for their own pleasure, and in homage to Miley, and she’s dressing like that for them. And the other amazing thing was that not a single person looked at me like I was a creep. Every single girl that made eye contact with me – which was hundreds and hundreds of them – they all smiled and were like “Hi!” or “Excuse me!” I never for a moment had that feeling of “Omg, What are you doing here?” That was absent from the place.
He also suggests that a common critique of Miley – her shameless re-appropriation of everything and everyone – completely misses the point of her brand and her audience.
[The show was] a cultural mash of Japanese anime, punk rock, metal, rap, country, youtube and photoshop culture, burlesque performance, pole dancing, African drumming, snuff videos – a complete fruit juice of everything culture has produced. And it’s all happening like boom boom boom. I don’t think anyone in the audience knows where every reference is from, but in a way they do. In a way they’re much more attuned to this torrent of micro images, and they are much more comfortable with it. They are not sitting there having borderline seizure like I was. They aren’t trying to parse every image. My mind was trying to process this torrent of images. I’m looking at every image and a part of my brain has a cultural association with it. And they’re not doing that, they’re just taking it in from a place of pure sensation and unmitigated joy.
And as an example of how little it matters to be authentic, dressed in a “glitter baseball hat turned to the side, large t-shirt, with a giant picture of herself on it” Miley does two covers – “no reference made” and no attempt to justify being a white kid singing the blues – of Dolly Parton’s Jolene and Outcast’s Hey Ya.
From Rookie Mag and Lorde to Jennifer Lawrence and Spring Breakers, there’s definitely a raunchy girl moment in pop culture right now
If you haven’t heard of Petra Collins, she’s the 21-year old Toronto-based artist who made a name of herself photographing for Rookie, designing a t-shirt for American Apparel, and founding the online female art collective The Arduous. Her instagram account was deleted after she posted unaltered images of her unshaven bikini line, and she wrote about it for Oyster:
She’s currently doing her first solo exhibition, “Discharge”, at Capricious 88 in New York City. We saw it yesterday and enjoyed the neon LED-light chat art, bloody underwear installations, and her unapologetically depressing/honest representations of girlhood. It’s free and you can catch it until April 27.
A couple of days ago, Mykki Blanco and Princess Nokia released the new track “Wish You Would”, mixed by Brenmar. “I’m the only bitch in the Bronx rocking Chanel,” raps Princess Nokia. We’re sure she’s indeed looking “fresher than kale”.
Lindsay Lohan has been busy lately. Lindsay left rehab last year and moved to New York to sober up and get her “life together”, with the help of a new personal assistant, her family, and Oprah. Actually, tonight at 10:00 PM, her reality TV show “Lindsay” premieres on Oprah’s OWN network.
We went to the Whitney Biennial yesterday, and were excited to see A.L. Steiner’s photo installation “Cost-benefit analysis”, which explores the aesthetic and emotional motivations in activism and radical culture. You can find more of her stuff on her website.
Jackie Wang’s “Against Innocence” is out at Semiotext(e) – an essay critiquing safe space policies, and why “removing all elements of risk and danger reinforces a politics of reformism that just reproduces the existing social order”. A version of the text appeared in Vol. 1 of Lies Journal – a journal of materialist feminism that we really like. Vol. 2 of Lies Journal is scheduled to come out this spring, so keep your eyes peeled. In the meantime, can buy Vol. 1 at AK press.
Lastly, Illuminate Girl Gang is a publication for female expression in the arts, curated by Gabby Bess. Nothing new has been released since last spring, but we still love repping it, and following their stuff on tumblr and elsewhere. Read old issues here.
Images taken from: