Sunday, 19 October 2014

What's wrong with being sexy?

Progressive metal band, Mastodon, released a video for The Motherload recently (above) which caused a stir (what music videos are supposed to do) and has been decried in some quarters for throwing metal music back to a cock rock stone age. The song itself isn't bad.

Heavy metal music has always been macho, and is one of the few vestiges of an unrestrained "primal" masculinity in the arts.

Over the last decade or two that's changed, and crowds at metal concerts are often more gender balanced. Although the performers remain mostly men, there are women musicians who can out-metal the men : Angela Gossow (formerly of Arch Enemy), Anneke van Giersbergen, Lauren Harris, Sandra Nasic, Onielar (Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult) etc....

The genre's emphasis has always been on authenticity and technical ability over being more aggressive or having popular appeal (visually or otherwise); so I don't believe it has as many barriers to entry for women as other genres of music.

One of the worst insults you can throw at a metal band is "sell out" because of that emphasis on authenticity. Some fans will probably consider a band a "sell out" if they don't live in a van and eat out of tins heated by candle.

Mastodon, as one of the biggest acts around nowadays, have subsequently been accused of becoming "too mainstream".

So my instant– and I suspect most people's - reaction to The Motherload video is that it's an absurdist parody that sticks two fingers up at the notion that metal videos have to be artsy, serious and pretentious; whilst filling the screens with arsequakes sticks two fingers up at those who've criticised the band for being too mainstream.

It reminded me of Chris Cunningham's masterpiece video for Aphex Twin's Windowlicker (above), which was supposed to parody RnB music videos of the late 1990s, but ended up being a very accurate vision of the future.

But, of course, people are very sensitive nowadays.

The Guardian, for example, seem determined to drag gender issues into areas where gender is often on the periphery and not entirely relevant to the issue at hand. I fully expect them to, at some point in the future, have a piece of the impact prostate cancer has on Lena Dunham.

There are areas where there's a genuine need to fight sex discrimination, but that's increasingly being conflated with social media justice warrior causes. It exaggerates hyped tittle-tattle, and does damage to more significant causes by deflecting attention.

It means we now have a Schrodinger's Cat situation where a woman showing her arse and moving it around a little bit can be - at the same time – either an empowering feminist statement or a further denigration of women.

I'll admit that I could watch slow motion footage of women's backsides all day, but it's insulting our intelligence to think that a bit of titillation (or arseillation in this case) would make anyone think less of women generally. Surely the best feminist statement is women doing whatever the hell they want?

Mastodon were having fun with it, and by the looks of it the dancers were too. I even used it earlier this week, because I have a sense of humour and can differentiate between genuine discrimination and something that might get up people's noses but isn't a "cause".

In terms of nudge-wink parody it's clear Mastodon didn't quite pull it off (heh), but it wasn't sexist.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The pathetic lives of infomercial folk

I'm sure everyone reading this has tried not being an idiot today. Other people aren't so fortunate.

The people targeted by infomercials, for example, live in a terrifying parallel universe which is subject to renegade laws of physics and a mass lack of common sense.

They must be so baffled by the most basic aspects of daily life, that I'm convinced advertisers should stop trying to sell them cheap plastic tat, and instead aggressively advertise euthanasia services – for the good of humanity.

It's nearly impossible to put something in your mouth. Children haven't been taught to aim for the big hole at the front of their face, just the face generally. Milk's just too hard! (It's supposedly from a music video, but it's hard to tell).

The kitchen is one of the most dangerous rooms in the house (though in infomercial world every room is an equal death trap). Clingfilm can be a pain in the arse, but it's not weapons-grade material, and it's not a spider trying to trap you in its web:

Impatience and lack of hand-eye coordination is the bane of the infomercial dweller, rendering tasks that most of us wouldn't think twice about – like opening tubs - nearly impossible. There's got to be a better way!

Humans only have two arms, but many people forget this. I picture a wife looking out of the window at this unfolding piece of physical comedy, thinking, "I really want a divorce, but at this rate I'll be a widow soon enough. Maybe I'll get the fool to do some roof tiling?"

"Nevermind, I'll just take the dog for a walk without the inconvenience of actually walking the dog."

Nobody in this universe is hardcore enough to rock a skullet, so they had to invent a spray-on mullet instead.

It's not only the men. Painting nails is something most women seem absolutely determined to get right, but some women get so excited about that new shade of pink, they fail to coordinate their arms properly. Everyday is a winding road. Just stay! Where! You are!.....HAND!

Let's pretend Mr Skullet gets lucky and the babes really do come back. It's worth dealing with the consequences. Mr Skullet and Ms Spastic Triplegia's eye lock over the "As Seen on TV" section in Wilkinsons. Pretty soon, they're  exchanging glances over a bottle of disinfectant they mistook for wine (I'm sure there's a product to deal with that issue too).

They have a disappointing courtship. He finally reveals his Def Leppard was actually a Devin Townsend. She can't coordinate her arms to tug away as his 4 inches of blue steel, so decides to lie back and think of JML.

"Try something new in the bedroom, they said." "Liven things up, they said."

9 months later, they wish they had the abortion when they still had the chance. Abortion services are what I presume this one's for. (My favourite is the flounce on the stairs) :

And what if their bundles of joy leave their toys lying around? Well, if you have the leg strength of an ant - so you're unable to kick a lightweight plastic tonka trunk out of the way – this supposedly happens. It's like You've Been Framed : The Funny Edition.

Although the bathroom contains other dangers, falling over there isn't any less painful than elsewhere in the house really - except the chances of you being naked when hitting the floor are much greater.

What other disasters await in the jacks?

Some people might get high off their own fumes, but what they may or may not realise is that they're leaving the house or workplace smelling like a dairy farm, and need to make a quick escape before someone with one of those divining rods matches the smell to whoever's arse dealt it.

Then there are those who simply won't notice because they're noses are blocked - perhaps through a large rock of charlie. There are low-tech, low-quality, potentially health damaging solutions for this too, as this robot demonstrates without frying its circuitry :

Last, but not least, everyone knows the importance of exercise to remain healthy. It's something that's even more important in the cruel world of the infomercial, where everything is out to get you and you need to put on your bravest face to deal with life's series of problems.

What's out there for the woman who wants to remain youthful looking, but doesn't have the time to move their face like a normal human?

I wish Threads really happened. :(