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Kanskje skulle du... (Uke 19)

PopkulturPosted by Stein Ove Lien Sun, May 16, 2010 14:45:34

…gi Labour en sjanse til? Snart fjorten dager etter at det britiske folket brukte landets ubrukelige valgsystem til å sette sammen et ubrukelig parlament, har privatskolekompisene Nick Clegg og David Cameron funnet sammen i en koalisjon av konservative og liberale krefter. Flere tungvektere, herunder den tidligere LibDem-leder Charles Kennedy, er skeptiske, openDemocracys Anthony Barnett ser den nye regjeringen som et schizofrent farvel til Thatcherismen, og til og med den frafalne progressive Nick Cohen ser med bekymring på hva den nye regjeringen kan gjøre med sammenhengskraften innenfor det høyst levende klassesystemet i Storbritannia. I mellomtiden venter vi på at Ed og David Miliband skal utkjempe en kamp om familiens, nasjonens og partiets ære i håp om å bli Labours neste leder. David, den celebrale og pene av dem, ønsker seg et ”next Labour”, hvilket han selvforelsket utlegger i dagens Observer. Selv finner denne skribent størst glede i å lese om Caroline Lucas, tidenes første parlamentsmedlem for De Grønne. I et intervju med Guardian i helgen forteller hun følgende anekdote fra et TV-intervju: "The trouble with you is you're a socialist”, postulerer den hjelpsomme journalisten. Lucas’ svar? “I mean, 'Yeah. What's your problem?’”. The Milibands har noe å lære.

…ta en siste kikk på Newsweek? Det tradisjonsrike, ikke alltid like interessante nyhetsmagasinet er satt til salg av sin minst like tradisjonsrike, nesten aldri interessante eier Washington Post, og Newsweek-redaktør John Meacham knokler hardt for å holde liv i ukemagasinet (Legg ned papirutgaven og slå Newsweek sammen med Slate, skriver Marketwatchs Jon Friedman). Fra sykesengen har den gamle institusjonen likevel klart å skape en hel del røre de siste ukene, etter at teaterkritikeren Ramin Setoodeh sendte på gaten en artikkel hvor han hevdet at to navngitte skuespillere, herunder Jon Groff fra Glee, mistet troverdighet som heteroseksuelle romantiske interesser fordi omverdenen vet at de foretrekker menn når de opptrer i sivil. Reaksjonene lot ikke vente på seg: Kristin Chenoweth, teaterdivaen som også har multiplisert stjernestatusen sin som bikarakter på Glee, kalte Setoodeehs essay ”homofobisk”; Glee-skaperen Ryan Murphy oppfordret en kort periode til boikott av magasinet; meningsmakeren Dan Savage debatterte med Setoodeh i fjernsynet og West Wing-forfatter Aaron Sorkin påpekte syrlig på Huffington Post at teatermannen Setodeeh (som for øvrig selv er homofil) neppe kunne mene dette – siden det ville bety at i så fall mente Sir Ian McKellen burde slutte å spille Shakespeare. Nå har Setoodeh svart Chenoweth, og Murphy har invitert forfatteren til kaffe på Glee-settet.

…komme tilbake til Dylan? Det er 35 år siden han ga ut sitt allerbeste album, Blood on the Tracks, det rablende opuset om kjælighetssorg. De flinke menneskene på PopMatters har absolutt alt du trenger å vite om platen, mannen og myten – en like strålende unnskyldning som noe annet for å gjenhøre pophistoriens mest bitende kommentar: You’re an idiot, babe / It’s a wonder you still know how to breathe fra Idiot Wind.

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Critical Company

PopkulturPosted by Jørgen Lien Fri, April 02, 2010 22:39:25

My memory is not good. I wish I was one of those people who could read a book or see a movie, and instantly remember every plot point, large or small, or who only have to hear a song once to be able to recite the lyrics perfectly. I know people who can, but I’m not one of them. Ask me about a movie a week after I saw it, and regardless of whether the movie was worth the effort or not, I’ll probably be unable to tell you anything other than what kind of an experience it was. So, I write to remember, and it works. That is also why I think I understand what Craig Seligman means when he says, in his fine book Sontag & Kael (2004), about culture critics Susan Sontag and Pauline Kael, that their criticism was often so good that he didn’t even feel like he needed to see the works they critiqued (“I know they’re great. But will they really rival the high that reading Sontag or Kael on them brings me?” (p. 173). To me, every critic should set out to write something that will stay in my memory longer than the book, album or movie she’s writing about.

I have to admit that my familiarity with the works of Susan Sontag, influential essayist and culture critic, and Pauline Kael, for decades a movie critic at the New Yorker, is relatively scarce; of Sontag I’ve read only On Photography (1977), Regarding the Pain of Others (2003), and the essay “Notes on ‘Camp’” from the collection Against Interpretation (1966); of Kael practically nothing. I only know them as touchstones in the history of modern criticism. But after a couple of days in the company of Craig Seligman, I’m tempted to ask, only half-joking, if reading their own work can ever give me the same thrill that reading his critique of them did. He succeeded in fulfilling two of the prime responsibilities of a critic; not only to make a case for whether a cultural product is worthy or not, but also to transcend the subject of criticism itself, which makes it a work of art.

There are lots of things to admire in this book, not least of which is the sheer audacity of the project. Let there be no doubt that what he does here is criticism, and one of a particularly tricky kind. He is, basically, critiquing critics. Sure, it’s Kael that’s in his heart, but that doesn’t mean that Sontag hasn’t also gotten under his skin . The most refreshing thing about this book, however, is with what seeming effortlessness it proves that intellectual honesty and curiosity can go a long way to level what may at first look like an uneven playing field. If Seligman is playing, lovingly and knowingly, with Kael, he’s struggling, battling even, with Sontag. There’s a clash of sensibilities at display, but it serves him well that he admits it. and that he doesn’t let it get in the way of his argument.

What makes Kael the heroine and Sontag the villain of the story, something Seligman regrets but doesn’t deny (p. 1), is his obvious sympathy for Kael’s skepticism toward overthinking things. Let’s start with a quote about Kael (p.15), that at the same time is indicative of how the book’s elegance will make you feel like you have reached your own conclusions, even when what you’ve really done is been given well-written discussion material:

"She said, ‘I only think with a pencil in my hand’. It was just a small joke, but it got at something. You sit down to review a work you’re not sure about your response to, and by the time you get up from your desk, you kn0w what you think. It isn’t a matter of taking a stand and then coming up with an argument to defend it; the argument is more organic than that. As you connect your thoughts – as you try to make them coherent by the simple method of fixing your sentences, making the words flow, correcting imprecisions – an argument emerges. There may be beautiful vacant writing, but I can’t cite any beautiful vacant criticism. What I can cite, is a lot of bad critical prose that thinks it can get away with its mediocrity by virtue of the (ostensibly) excellent thought behind it."

To me, this is first and foremost a call for open-mindedness, and for respecting the sometimes seductive power of words. If you don’t watch your words carefully, they will lead you astray and invite misreadings. And if you come to the evaluation of a work of art with a fixed set of things to watch for, looking for a worldview or an aesthetic preference to be confirmed, you will inevitably diminish it. I try to live by this advice already, but I don’t always succeed, either because I can’t find the words, or because I’m pursuing an argument that I may find appealing, but that I don’t have the courage to discard when it doesn’t hold up under closer scrutiny. Seligman, and by extension Kael, doesn’t say you shouldn’t think, only that conceptualized overthinking will exclude and obfuscate more than it illuminates, because it entails a stale narrow-mindedness.

I have committed this sin repeatedly myself, and it doesn’t always and only happen in the writing process itself. Among other things, it should make an even stronger case for why you should avoid reading other people’s reviews until you’ve written your own. It’s not so much the fear of plagiarism of phrase as the plagiarism of thought that is the problem. If you rob yourself of the opportunity to view a movie through your own lens, you rob the movie of a new perspective at the same time. Granted, those of us who are neither professional critics nor confident enough in our tastes to be totally independent may actually be helped both intellectually and stylistically by reading other critics (per Seligman’s notion that a good piece of criticism can be just as enligthening as the work itself), but it doesn’t add anything else to the conversation. Thus, I owe my favorite critic, Dana Stevens of Slate, both a thank you and an apology. Thanks for convincing me that despising Stephen Daldry’s The Reader (review in Norwegian) doesn’t make me a bad person, or for paving the way for my panning of the well-meaning but dreadful Australia (review in Norwegian). But my apologies for how, at least in my own opinion, I was unable to develop her argument any further in any interesting way, paying back my intellectual debt.

But there’s more. A couple of times, I have dipped my toes into what Seligman is doing with real virtuosity in this book; critiquing critics. My ambition has been to extract some pattern from the critical reception of a work, and then see if it holds up. But even though I didn’t mean to, I feel like these pieces got somewhat seduced by their overall premise, and therefore forgot to really examine whether it held up. I still think I had some good points in my articles about Jonas Brothers’ Lines, Vines and Trying Times, Nick Jonas’ Who I Am (both of which grew from the sense that the artists were being treated with condescension due to their age and/or ambitions) and Tom Ford’s A Single Man, but I should have treated my findings with less certainty. I don’t think Seligman thinks that there’s anything wrong with setting out to prove that other critics have got it wrong, but if that’s your starting point, you need to do two things: First, know the limits to your argument (aka: no straw men). Second; Add something more. Intellectual honesty is important, of course, but I would argue that the second point is actually even more essential. If you have to deal in hyperbole, then at least do so in a way that can give the reader something when they debunk you. The problem with my piece about A Single Man was that I was never quite able to free myself from the straight jacket of other people’s readings (that the movie’s aesthetic was merely a ploy to hide its emptiness), and that I presented that line of criticism as more common than it really was. With regard to the Nick Jonas piece, I think the problem was that I never got around to reviewing his album on its (or my) own terms, save some generalities.

The way I read Seligman, though, the difference between Sontag and Kael is in what part of the quoted scenario they emphasize. While Kael would likely be most interested in what’s put down on paper ‘by the time she gets up from her desk’, Sontag seems to cherish the writing process itself more. This irks Seligman quite a bit, because it is couple with a large dose of arrogance toward the reader, whom she often dismisses is irrelevant, as she is instead writing ‘because there is Literature’. Also, although he concedes that Sontag is a great critic, he sees in her a coolness that is often so detached as to be joyless. Sontag’s an academic first, and she knows and embraces that – again to the point of arrogance – whereas Kael, while a great stylist, is not as interested in the barrier that theory will inevitably erect around a body of work. Seligman shares with us a fantastic quote from Kael (p. 162-63), indicting the critic Siegfried Kracauer for his insistence on bringing the airlessness of strict objectivity into what is essentially a subjective exercise:

"Siegfried Kracauer is the sort of man who can’t say ‘It’s a lovely day’ without first having to establish that it is a day, that the term “day” is meaningless without the dialectical concept of “night”, that both of these terms have no meaning unless there is a world in which day and night alternate, and so forth. By the time he has established an epistemological system to support his right to observe that it’s a lovely day, our day has been spoiled."

I get the sense that Seligman is on Kael’s side also because she was more inclined to stand with the audience against the film industry and filmmakers (p. 38); insisting that when she didn’t like a movie it was because it could have been so much better, while Sontag’s reflexive (though reflected) elitism often put her on the side of the moralists (even when she didn’t want to), decrying the public’s willingness to give in to such lowly pleasures (though she was, he convincingly argues, not a foe of popular culture). And such it is throughout the book; without treating either of them unfairly. when Kael and Sontag is put side by side, he sides with Kael nearly every time.

On the issue of gayness, my first inclination was to I think he was being a bit too hard on Sontag. She was bisexual, although she never confirmed it publicly, while Kael was straight. As I have said many times, I find it very hard to come down forcefully on one side of the issue of whether famous gay people have a sort of obligation to come out, and it’s the same with Seligman’s issue here. He seems to think that keeping her sexuality private is something of an inconsistency for an otherwise brave political activist like Sontag, since ‘ for anyone gay, coming out of the closet is a fundamental, the fundamental political act’ (p. 103). He chides her, ever the guardian of moral seriousness, for comparing it to an act of indiscretion, of public entertainment, and he goes on: ‘Gay men and women have it so much better today than forty years ago because so many of us have come out’. Ideally, I wouldn’t demand of anyone that they present themselves as someone they’d be uncomfortable with, but at the same time, I sense that that could be because I live in a country (Norway) in which coming out has surpassed the point of political potency and gone on to become a matter of fairly risk-free self-expression (I’m simplifying slightly, and that doesn’t mean we don’t have other problems). I know that such progress progress can be reversed, however, and it could be that Sontag’s responsibility should’ve been to come out.

The problem for Sontag as an artist, though, was that she was attacked as anti-gay on several occasions, as was Kael. Seligman makes a convincing case that the charges against both of them were preposterous, and then he raises a specific point that has generally been symptomatic of the liberal left, and gay activists, for decades: Who got off free while they were concerned about the perceived bigotry of fellow liberals like Kael? He also points out another immediately recognizable issue with gay critics; their humorlessness. It doesn’t always help the cause to attack everything with the same self-righteous fervor, without accounting for context or previous attitudes. That said, I hope I am still allowed to call out comedies featuring gay characters as simply not funny, or even potentially (if not necessarily intentionally) homophobic. Writing off I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry as a one-joke movie does not prove that I don’t have a sense of humor; it proves that I have one. And I really disliked how Brüno made itself immune from any such criticism, even if that makes me one gay in a very small crowd.

But our guy Seligman really never let’s his eyes off the ball. Even in the beautiful and deeply personal closing pages, chronicling the passion with which he read Kael as a young man, and transitioning from there into the story of how they developed a professional and personal friendship, he sets an example for how a critic can use himself constructively in his writing. By making himself an example of the influence Kael has had on a generation of younger critics, he argues for her cultural significance. In short, these pages, actually closer to Sontag than Kael in the respect of using oneself to further a point, contain what I have tried to do myself over and over again. Therefore: Be warned, readers, that I will keep trying to illuminate things about culture through personal experience. But unlike the flexible Seligman, it will most likely be because that may be the only approach I can pull off.

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Kanskje skulle du... (Uke 11)

PopkulturPosted by Stein Ove Lien Sun, March 21, 2010 14:09:16

...glede deg til vårens store TV-event? La Grand Prix vente; vårens store TV-begivenhet er orkestrert av David Simon, skaperen av The Wire, som om få uker sender ut sitt nye New Orleans-baserte drama Treme på kabelkanalen HBO. Ta deg i den anledning tid til å lese mer om hvorfor det bare kunne skjedd nettopp på HBO, hør hva en TV-event egentlig er, les om David Simons notoriske problemer med å selge inn konseptet til produksjonsselskapet, og hør hva denne sporten, pitching, går ut på. Det finnes et utall av gode Simon-analyser på nettet, fra Jacob Weisbergs ofte siterte postulat om The Wire som verdens beste TV-serie over Mark Bowdens kritiske forklaring på Simons sosiale indignasjon på Amerikas vegne til Jump Cuts milelange analyse av serien som et sosialistisk mesterstykke i meningstung filmkunst til Nick Hornbys informative snakk med Simon om skriveprosessen og de politiske føringene. Det er nesten mulig å bruke like mye tid på analyser av serien enn på å se de 60 episodene.

...endelig oppdage Nick Hornbys venn Ben Folds? Ben Folds har laget utmerket, svært amerikansk pianopop i en liten mannsalder, men har savnet et yngre publikum en stund. En morsom videoperformance på Chatroulette bør ha ordnet det, selv om vi ikke vet om det er Folds som spiller (bortsett fra at han ”synger som Ben Folds, spiller som Ben Folds og ser ut som Ben Folds, som Vulture påpeker). Et mulig smart karrieretrekk, det, nå som han legger siste hånd på sin nye plate, som Nick Hornby har skrevet tekstene til, slik sistnevnte fortalte KCRWs The Business for litt siden. Hornbys bok 31 sanger avslører at det ikke er helt ulogisk; Ben Folds Fives Smoke blir der offer for en svært sympatisk analyse.

…holde fast i det sympatiske? Selvsamme Nick Hornby har i årevis bidratt til USAs mest sympatiske litteraturtidsskrift, Believer Magazine, som skiller seg ut fra skogen av lignende prosjekter ved å bare skrive om bøker skribentene liker. Hornby har tidligere samlet noen av sine skriverier for magasinet i den varmt anbefalte boken The Complete Polysyllabic Spree, som sammen med britiske Guardians morsomme rundspørring til en rekke av samtidens fineste forfattere kan inspirere noenhver av oss til å atter gripe etter vår skjønnlitterære penn. Fullt så blid og forhåpningsfull var ikke den danske forfatteren og debattanten Carsten Jensen i essaysamlingen med det bittersøte navnet Af en astmatisk kritikers bekendelser, hvis eneste link til Hornby er at han også anmeldte litteratur for 20 år siden. La det ligge – her brukes denne skjøre forbindelseslinjen til å sette søkelyset på Jensens ubestridte, om enn alltid kontroversielle, posisjon som Danmarks viktigste intellektuelle. Det ga ham for en tid tilbake den høythengende Olof Palmes minnepris, en tildeling som Aftenposten denne helgen setter fokus på. Les gjerne Politikens intervju med prisvinneren, og Informations gjengivelse av en av de tekstene som katapulterte Jensen fra sosial kommentator til prisvinner og menneskerettighetsaktivist.

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Taking Porn Seriously

PopkulturPosted by Jørgen Lien Fri, March 19, 2010 00:12:58

If after you've read a book, you find yourself more interested in what was left out, what didn't fit the narrative, than what was actually in it, that can be both a good or a bad sign. Good, if it means you found so little to criticize about the book itself that in a sense you only wished it would have covered even more ground. Bad, if the author's priorities were out of order, if he ignored some hugely important aspect that renders his main analysis incomplete, or worse, irrelevant. My take on Bigger than Life (2009), Jeffrey Escoffier's book about the history of gay porn cinema, is that both of those perspective are valid in assessing it. But let me just say right away that I'm very glad he decided to write a book like this, despite its imperfections. As he attempts to show, the gay porn industry has been instrumental in defining what it has meant to be gay at different times, and it's laudable that he tries to give a systematic account of such an important phenomenon. Also, while I may think he's a little soft on the darker side of the porn business, it is, at least as a starting point, refreshing to read a book that is porn positive, in the sense that it recognizes that porn deserves to be taken seriously. It's an approach I support, but it's so rare that I was struck by it several times while reading.

Escoffier's history is broadly chronological, but individual chapters are organized around an overarching theme meant to symbolize the ev0lution of the industry, from the offset of the sexual revolution in the late sixties, the banner years of the seventies, the impact of AIDS in the eighties, and slow decline/fragmentation of the hardcore film industry in the nineties and the aughts. All these periods are vividly recreated, but the discussion of how gay porn reflected and responded to the gay culture at large is much more interesting than hearing about the careers and indiviual movies of an assorted bunch of influential directors, performers and production companies. I understand and appreciate that he needs to discuss some seminal works and performers in greater detail to give us a grasp of how the conventions of gay porn came into being, but at times he throws so many names, titles and even storylines around that it's hard to keep track, or even to keep the interest.

I found the parts about individual stars and the evolution of the concept of the gay porn superstar to be among the weaker in the book, but because of the novelty of the subject, at least to me, they were still fascinating. Escoffier presents persuasive evidence, based on box office numbers and broader cultural impact, for why a number of actors should be legitimately considered stars of gay porn (Casey Donovan, Jeff Stryker, Al Parker, etc.), but I don't necessarily feel that I get a better sense of what actually constitutes a good porn performance. Because the main goal for a porn movie is to get people aroused, I guess the greatness of a performance will vary widely with personal sexual preferences, but I still would have found it interesting if Escoffier had taken the time to discuss the inherent limitations of the porn review itself. Still, he deserves credit for including several excerpts from leading porn reviewers at the time. The fact that such serious yet enthusiastic porn criticism even existed was kind of new to me, but it provoked a lot of questions about how you actually review something that's not quite real yet not quite fiction.

Escoffier is at his best when he backs up from what we might call porn economics, the almost pedantic cataloguing of the performers, movies and directors of any given era, to showing how the aesthetics of porn changed over time, or how the porn industry has had to adapt to societal changes. Among other things, he has a great discussing about how a new industry without an agreed set of genre norms gradually seemed to settle on some elements that were deemed essential for an effective porn movie. For example it may sound odd today, but there was a time when the cumshot was not necessarily considered the obvious climax of a sex scene, instead cutting back and forth between the sex and the foreplay. Documenting how the conventions of gay porn have developed, and above all expanded (into subgenres), over time, may make us more aware of how predictable much of today's porn really is.

I'm not entirely sure how well his attempt to explore the emergence of several porn subgenres within the generally chronological framework really works, but the middle section of the book, about the impact of the AIDS epidemic, is excellent. This is also where his seemingly endless listing of names makes the most sense, because he uses it to show how many prominent porn performers were infected. From there he goes on to elegantly connect the charged public discourse about homosexuality and AIDS prevention with the resistance within the gay porn industry to taking the severity of the disease seriously. While more inclusive to HIV positive performers than its straight counterpart, the gay porn industry resisted a transition to safe sex for far too long. Based on an analysis grounded in the subversive spirit of the sixties and seventies, the industry believed that the gay porn audience simply wouldn't want to buy videos if the performers wore condoms. Though morally objectionable, both with regard to the health of the performers and the signal it sent to porn consumers, parts of the industry actually thrived on the AIDS epidemic. Escoffier argues that the public fear of AIDS, in combination with the VCR, seemed to change the way gay men experienced sex. Instead of going to porn theaters, or cruise for multiple partners, they starting taking that experience into their own homes. In short; masturbation enjoyed something of a revival, according to Escoffier. It's a perspective on the AIDS crisis I have never thought about before, but it's an example of how much ground he actually manages to cover over the course of 350 pages.

That's why most of my reservations about the book are of the good variety described above. It's not so much that what's he has chosen to include in the book is not interesting or relevant. It's that there are so many subjects he just barely touches upon, enough to catch my interest and raise some questions, but not enough to answer them properly. One example is what we might call ethnic porn. Escoffier writes a little bit about the rising populary of so-called thugporn, featuring black performers, but generally, his historical account is very white. If black porn was slow to emerge, it would have been nice to know more about why that was. In relation to this, Escoffier makes a point about how black and latinos seem to be regarded as an intetwined subgenre within today's industry. If that's a fair reading, it's very interesting. Do consumers of this type of porn consider them related? Is it because of an ethnic thing? Both are questions I would have liked him to ask.

More substantively, I was somewhat surprised by how little attention was paid to what Escoffier himself acknowledges as the rising demand for bareback porn videos. A deeper discussion of this trend, which he attributes, I think correctly, to a declining fear and awareness of AIDS, combined with a careless interpretation of the subversive potential in gay sex, would have fit in well with previous discussion about the condom code et cetera. His analysis, which includes a suspicion that the industry itself, never more than half-heartedly embracing safe sex, is unwilling to withstand the commercial potential in relaxing its safe sex standards by catering to the bareback crowd, is a persuasive one. I only wished he had developed it further.

But finally, let's return to the issue of porn-positivism. While reading the book, I was reminded of Jochen Hick's documentaries Sex/Life in LA and Cycles of Porn (1998/2005). Seeing these two sexually explicit documentaries about the gay porn industry at the local film festival in 2005 was one of the strangest experiences of my whole, long coming-out process. I thought of myself as straight, but at the same time I had to admit that there was something strangely alluring about being able to watch something I had considered unavaible to me, both for moral and psycho-sexual reasons. Sitting in a theater with lots of people I didn't know, watching porn documentaries for three hours, was a mind-numbing experience in itself. As a perceivably straight guy, I was supposed to watch the movies through a coldly rational, almost non-sexual lens. The audience had this large contingent of loud gays, and the whole time I was afraid that they would suspect me of being like them. In all, it felt like a more clinical version of the logic of the porn theaters Escoffier writes about.

My point when bringing up Sex/Life and Cycles, however, is that they painted a somewhat less glamorous picture of the gay porn industry that's largely missing with Escoffier. He discusses some of the downsides, like AIDS and ageism, but he doesn't focus particularly much on the emotional and physical pressure actors are under to perform. While I'm ambivalent about porn, I think gay porn has a larger register to draw upon, which means it often avoids the implicit sexism of straight porn. When I still feel queasy about porn, it's mainly for two reason. One is that I simply find much gay porn insulting to my intellect, and I don't want to get off to that. The other, though, is that I never feel that I can fully trust that the people who participate in it are doing it solely because they want to, and that they were completely comfortable all the time. It may sound like a naive thought, but I at least think we have an obligation to consider these murkier aspects of gay porn. Escoffier doesn't necessarily do that.

But again, these are fundamentally complaints about things that were left out, not criticism of what was actually included. Despite some flaws, Bigger Than Life lays an impressive and important fundament for a more informed debate about the state of gay porn. That's a huge accomplishment.

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Uffda: Noor.

PopkulturPosted by Pål Hafstad Thorsen Sun, March 14, 2010 19:43:26

Titt og ofte dukker det opp nye personer til kjendis-Norge. Majoriteten av dem er totalt uinteressante og har sjeldent gjort annet enn å pervertere seg gjennom profilering på sosialpornografiske realityshow.

Så også med ”Paradise-Noor.” Nå ”Popartist-Noor.”

I følge presentasjonen på bloggen hennes er hun en kvinne, født i 1985, på den nette sum av 58 kilo som er 164 centimeter høy. Hun misliker Fanta-brus - da spesielt smaken ”exotic” – men hun liker ”smågodt fra MIX”. I følge skattelistene heter hun egentlig Nour Kamil Al-Sadoun. Og tjente noe under en gjennomsnittlig norsk inntekt i 2008. Hyggelig.

I kjendis-teori, er hun alt annet enn gjennomsnittlig. Fordi hun nå skal bli popstjerne. Noen år etter å ha tilegnet seg silikonpupper og deltatt i realityserien Paradise Hotel. I en tid hvor verden har vært fokusert på OL i Vancouver og kraftige rystelser på richters skala, så har popartisten Noor fått noe oppmerksomhet i media. Blant annet fordi hun av egen lomme har finansiert musikkvideoen til den nye låten ”Indestructible”. Noe som i følge Google Translate betyr ”uforgjengelig”.

Både låt og video har gått som en farsott blant mine bekjente, i hipstermiljøet og blant lett Gaga-elskende homofile gutter. Med kommentarer som har latterlige fortegn, og dype diskusjoner om autotune.

- Vil du lære mer om autotune, kan du sjekke ut NrKbeta.

Popartisten Noor uttaler til Dagbladet at låten Indestructible beskriver henne som en uavhengig kvinne. Og for øvrig så bryr hun seg ikke om janteloven. Det er godt å vite, spesielt når man tar i syne coveret til låten. Der står artisten foran en stakkars ihjelsmadret rød Toyota. Antrekk for anledningen er noe som kan minne om en bukse i svart imitert skinn, svart topp. Ikke mindre enn tre-fire-fem belter rundt midjen. Og selvsagt en svart hanske på venstre hånd.

For all del så må leseren nå ikke forveksle dette hanskepåfunnet med Black Panther Partys provoserende retoriske og militante uttrykk på 60’ og 70-tallet. I disse kretser tredde man læret på hånden – hevet den høyt, og klasket hardt i bordet når man faktisk hadde noe å melde.

Selvstendig og uavhengig som artisten er, så har ikke låten blitt signet til noe plateselskap. Forståelig nok. Men den er publisert på Youtube. I skrivende stund sett av over 66.000 på få dager.

Videoen som Noor har finansiert selv, er det totale mareritt. Litt på grunn av at den er fullstendig uinteressant. Men mest fordi videoen i stor grad foregår inne på et vaskerom, foran en haug med vaskemaskiner. Og gjentatte ganger i videoen så drar artisten frem mengder med ducktape som hun klistrer på en hjelpeløs kar, enten det er rundt håndleddene eller over munnen.

Det kan se ut som om Noor har den totale forstoppelse der hun vrikker og vrir foran vaskemaskinene og vi vekselvis får se bilder av et tre (- for anledningen med julepynt).

Her slås inn åpne dører. Artisten hyler ut ”I’m on top of the world” mens autotune vrenger stemmen til det smerteligste punkt. Sannsynligvis er det et poeng i at Noor velger å henge på et vaskerom. Muligens er det et forsøk på å vaske vekk faenskapet fra andre mennesker, men undertegnede mener bestemt at det hadde vært mer effektfullt å spyle dem vekk med en brannslange – enn å sette i gang med å ta klesvasken for dem.

Lyrikken er så uinteressant som man kan få den. Mennesker som selv, frivillig, velger å utsette seg for reality-helvetet for så å pushe smått og stort fra eget liv rett inn i rikspressen, har etter min mening ingen grunn til å kakle om janteloven eller gjentatte ganger ta generaloppgjør med sine såkalte fiender. Det er selvsagt ingen overraskelse at popartisten Noor velger å angripe sine kritikere, og det er flott at hun selv føler at hun er ”on the top of the world” gjennom en typisk ”just look at me now.”

Musikalsk er låten intet annet enn skandaløs, slapp rytme. Autotune-vrengt stemme og bare helt fullstendig meningsløs. Dette kunne vært plassert i samme sjangeren til lookalikes som Linni Meister og Lene Alexandra. Dog sistnevnte vil jeg påstå må ha noe som kan minne om ironisk tilnærming til hele popartist-prosjektet.

Noe som gjør meg svært bekymret på vegne av dette nye tilskuddet. Fordi det virker til at popartisten Noor faktisk mener dette på alvor.

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- Vil du bli en av mange tusen skyldige i at popartisten Noor kommer til å prøve seg på den vanskelige andresingelen? Versego': http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06SYKpKBgyE

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Kanskje skulle du, Oscar-utgaven

PopkulturPosted by Stein Ove Lien Sun, March 07, 2010 21:33:24
I natt samles Hollywood-eliten atter i Kodiak Theatre i Los Angeles for å feire seg selv og at alt ikke er kullsvart innen kommersiell filmkunst på tross av at Obama sliter med å få presset helsereformen gjennom Senatet og arbeidsledigheten fortsatt er høyere enn vi liker å sette pris på.

Flere Skrivekollektivets skribenter skal følge fesjået her fra ca 01:30, så følg med! Før det; her er litt å lese på.

Her er filmene. Og folkene. Og klippene. (New York Times)

Jørgen Lien om viktigheten av ti (Skrivekollektivet)

Mark Harris om hvordan Oscar-kampanjen egentlig funker (New York Magazine)

Kim Masters og Mark Boal om The Hurt Locker (The Business)

Oscar-produsent Adam Shankmans Twitter-konto (Twitter)

Nathan Heller om når Oscar-vert Steve Martin sluttet å være morsom (Slate)

Elizabeth Day om hvorfor han andre faktisk er det (The Guardian)

Brett Berk om, eh, bilene som kjører til den røde løperen (Vanity Fair)

Produsent Torstein Nybø om Oscar-nominerte Burma VJ og hvor vanskelig det er å få
dokumentarer til å fungere på kino (Rushprint)

Dale Hrabi om hva man bør gjøre hvis man vinner (Daily Beast)

Kjendisreporter Barbara Walters om sine 29 på den røde løperen (Toronto Star)

The Advocate om hvorfor å spille homo er lurt hvis man vil nomineres (The Advocate)

Eric Hynes om hva som ikke er så smart (Slate)

Tom Shone om hvorfor ingen vinner alt lenger (Vulture)

La moroa begynne.




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