I’D LIKE TO SOLVE THE PUZZLE

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 VOLUME TOO

 HOW I FOUND MYSELF WRITING THE WRONGS OF POP CULTURE  EVEN THOUGH IT WASN’T ALOUD   

by Tom Kolovos

 


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Published on December 23rd, 2014 | by tomkolovos

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On Nicki Minaj and Why Women Got A Bum Rap in 2014

 

“It’s an asshole celebration/And they’re all out on the street/See them on the sidewalk/Oh hear them shuffling feet/As 20.000 assholes doing asshole promenade/Step aside good people it’s the assholes on parade.”TIMBUK 3

Starting with the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, right on  up to the bitter end, when Kim Kardashian once again reared her empty head and by turning the other cheek to the interstitial forces that bind us, she was sitting pretty as the woman who broke the internet.

You could be forgiven for believing that the 18 million cracks Hillary Clinton once spoke of in the political glass ceiling had in fact lowered their sights considerably and were now to be found in the media impressions,  dance floor moves, music videos, covers of magazines and front page  headlines right on up  to the pages of the New York Times.

The  ubiquitous presence and fanatical praise heaped onto the abundant female posterior became something of rallying cry for female liberation, as if bra burning suddenly found its sister act in thong, although it was not altogether clear from what or from whom.

Or maybe it was far  more transparent that anyone cares to admit.

When it comes to music and the accompanying visuals in videos, there’s been an poorly executed  attempt at using the big booty as feminist backlash directed at the fashion industry and the fashion magazines who have been unrelentingly peddling the skeletal 5’10” 105 pound white female form as culturally normative,  ideal and superior in every way to any other since the 1990’s.

The marketing of this female body type, and the failure of the vast majority of women to achieve it, primarily because it is a genetic aberration at best and a cocaine and a speed fueled drug binge/ deliberate eating disorder that dares not speak its name among the fashion elite who peddle it as a business model, and peddle it as a business model precisely because making women feel bad about their bodies is as powerful a selling tool as ever invented when you have merchandise to peddle that can, and yet never does, deliver an instant cure for your abject moral failure to measure up.

“Fuck you, if you skinny, bitches,” declares Nicki Minaj in the most egregious of the booty anthems of 2104, “Anaconda.” But even the tone of that lyric alone betrays that there is no feminist activity being heralded here. The body type glorified in the booty anthem is more curvaceous, yes, but no less demanding and demeaning a standard that the one it purports to replace. If anything, the body type that’s really being glorified is the 1950’s white ideal exemplified by Jane Mansfield, for instance, where prominent cleavage and an ample posterior demand you be, in the words of Sir-Mix-A -lot “skinny in the middle.”  Look at this image of Nicki Minaj in GQ this year, and you see the  fraudulent  claim that  “unrealistically skinny” is the real enemy under attack in the any of the songs of the genre laid bare.

What’s clearly happening is that women of color have appropriated an anachronistic white female body image that’s  just as extreme and impossibly demanding to achieve for most women–and no less sexist– and whitewashed it with the language of feminism so it might appeal as such to most American women who are either obese or morbidly obese.

 

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I have tried elsewhere this year to make sense of the sociopolitical forces at work behind the fetish with this body part, and in that post I was particularly struck with how a white crossover artist like Meghan Trainor completely betrays that body acceptance is the real feminist work being done in these songs.

A few months after that post, she appeared on the CMA’s to sing “All About That Bass” with country superstar Miranda Lambert, who before appearing on the show that night was on record as being a happy, well adjusted, normal for her  size 8 (at her slimmest.) However, it was a shock to see Ms. Lambert that evening, singing the lyrics to the horribly disingenuous now crossover duet, when she had dropped 40 pounds and had transformed herself from her heretofore size 8 happy to be me self, into a disturbing caricature of “heroin chic” meets fake bake, bleached blonde Hugh Hefner triplet. And singing about the virtues of being no size 2, no less. Yes, 2014 saw more that its fair share of drinking songs on the country charts, but no moonshine strong enough to make you forget what a white liar looks and sounds like.

The way I see what’s really at work here? One is a backlash at the economic success of women particularly during the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. The other is a far less optimistic longview about disturbing acceleration in the income inequality gap in the US and the continuing disappearance of American exceptionalism in the global economy.

The current obsession with the female booty, and the women who earn their living by flaunting it, is nothing more than the glorification of sex work as a legitimate female profession. And let’s not be coy here. As women excel at their careers, there is an undeniable  parallel cultural shift glorifying sex workers as entrepreneurs that undermines professional women, and which in effect has the purpose to  provide men in the post 2008 economy with some of that competitive edge they once enjoyed in the workforce.

At the same time, the glorification of the sex worker as entrepreneur, whether it’s in the mainstream music business of 2014, reality show television franchises produced by gay men like Andy Cohen and Ryan Seacrest or the folks over at VH1, or the appearance  of Kim Kardashian of the cover of Vogue, among other places, is in effect a trade school of hard knocks in the  brave new world of  the disappearing middle class, especially in communities of color. You might remember that  8 years ago GOP Presidential  candidates who were otherwise touting that millennial chimera of  American Exceptionalism,  telling voters that it’s no longer realistic to expect that college is a real option for every American who wants to attend. Americans should start to think about strenghthening, not the higher education system, they said, but good old fashioned  trade schools.

In a horribly misguided feature, New York magazine attributed the career benefits in 2014 to posing in the pages of Playboy decades ago. “All the women in these pages went on to become journalists, entre­­­preneurs, real-estate agents, and sexagenarian nude models; who married, divorced, and, in one case, gave birth to a Victoria’s Secret supermodel.”

Has anyone told Ruth Bader Ginsburg this news?

Unlike what you will read elsewhere in popular media, I refuse to believe 2014 has simply been the “year of the booty.” The pithy moniker explains nothing. We know that female sex work becomes more prevalent in economies where upward mobility is limited or non existent. Given the increasing income inequality and the effects of globalization on the American workforce, 2014 may very well be the year the stigma of sex work for women must needs go away.

And the year your ass was put on notice: use it or forever lose it as a career opportunity. Classes now open.


#Bestof2014 My favorite songs and CD’s of 2014
December 12th, 2014 | by tomkolovos

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