Posts tagged ‘sex’

March 13, 2013

1993: Experimental Jet-Set, Trash and No Star @ the New Museum

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The New Museum is currently showing a collection of works produced in New York City during the year of 1993. For those who do not remember (or eventually did not quite live through) the early 90’s, those were messy times surrounded by a very strange sentiment of war being over and then not quite; of rethinking the concepts of identity and otherness through the lenses of those who braved a new world that became completely western — or not; that unwelcomed entirely any form of dictatorship — with a few exceptions; marked by the massive integration of the European continent and the silently (maybe not that much) unwelcome dependency the American Way of Life developed towards its Latin-American immigrants. It was the times when some of the most beloved idols revealed themselves as homosexuals and died of AIDS (and I honestly admit I think only of Freddie Mercury here, but that man’s voice and presence was worth about 20 of the other icons around by then and represented oh, so many people’s pain at that time); times when being a woman started to mean something different at the office and at home, but not entirely.

This exhibition takes us back to a time when wearing black from head to toe actually made a lot of sense. Many were in grief for loved ones that in their death bed, suffered from some bizarre moral stalking that welcomed disease and death as a fit punishment for defying whatever authoritarianism they called virtue. Many could not be cheerful thanks to the end of the nuclear threat when the sort of immaterial Star Wars that marked the Reagan government in the 1980s was replaced with a very real Desert Storm in the early 1990s by his successor, Mr. Bush, the father (as now he’s come to be referenced). All this pain and questioning is there, clearly exposed in the many floors of the beautiful New Museum, in a very crude and honest way to try to make sense of that strange new world.

Femininity and homosexuality intertwine in a discussion about who has the right to define and possess gender, showing itself in a variety of works that expose the many forms sexuality can take in a challenging, almost aggressive form, as if daring the viewers to look away, testing their ability to defy convention and regard difference as the most normal part of life in society. The early 1990s were more than 20 years ago, friends, and those were vastly more flourishing times for radicals and moralists, people who would throw AIDS in the face of homosexuals and discriminate immigrants as the source of disorder and economic crisis. By then, the faintest hypocrisy was still not needed and such positions could be voiced far, far more openly then it is possible today. The strength of the reply as voiced in the works selected for this exhibition reflects the vicious forms of hate directed to whoever was elected as the other, the minority.

I strongly recommend this exhibition should you be around NYC until the 23 of May. It´s not like Bowery isn’t a nice place to be, anyways, and the New Museum is absolutely gorgeous and has a wonderful terrace with a great view that should not be missed. Be prepared for bad taste — it’s the early 1990’s after all — and matters you will feel are dated, or treated in a somewhat radical way. When you realize you are entertaining that sentiment, remember why you do it — because they did it that way back then so that you wouldn’t have to a few decades later.

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October 19, 2012

Fifty shades of very bad literature

What´s the buzz, tell me what´s happening — that´s what the apostles sing to the Lord in one of the first numbers on the semi-blasphemous rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, and that´s also the thought that started popping in my head as I read more and more distinct, even opposing reviews of the new supposedly erotic literary blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James.

The reviews that got me particularly curious were those of some feminists who basically destroyed the book for (1) disguising the old quest for Prince Charming in some BDSM, (2) fantasizing about control freaks and confounding sociopathy with BDSM and (3) contributing to worsen self-esteem issues regarding the difficulties some women have to reach orgasm during sex. I found it odd that a book so theoretically forward in terms of its thematic could also be so backwards, and I decided to judge for myself. I now regret that decision, but alas: what is done, is done. Let´s make something of it.

Let´s go first for the literary aspects of the book : it´s horrendously written and it has given me the impression the author has had no meaningful emotional experience in her whole life, as if she was herself actually a teenager with the depth of a Beverly Hills 90210 character. The self-esteem issues the main character and narrator Anastasia has lack credibility; her inner dialogues and conflicts are unnervingly pathetic, as she spends the entire book in a bizarro struggle between her “inner goddess” (what the fucking fuck?) and her “subconscious” (WTFF 2), two aspects of her personality who in a television cartoon would correspond to a little sex driven devil on one side of  her shoulder and Larry David on the other.

The author has a very disturbing obsession with some awful narrative images she repeats over and over again throughout the seemingly endless pages of the book: the way Christian Grey´s pants hang from his hips, the sound of the condom foil packet being ripped open (she mentions it ALMOST. EVERY. TIME.), the way Anastasia bites her lip. All characters are very superficial stereotypes, all dialogues are poorly constructed, it´s all just so… sad! Yes, it makes me sad that a book as bad as this one has made the cut and attracted such a massive crowd.

Having reviewed the absent literary aspects of E.L. James´ work, I must say I also agree with the criticism regarding the backwards-pretensely-forward approach to love and sex the author develops in her book. The BDSM in the book is basically null, except for a lot of talking about it, objects in a red room that remain for the most part unused throughout the course of the events, and some spanking that scare the shit out of the girl. The rest of it consists of blindfolding, tying and conventional sex toys — sorry, that´s not BDSM, that´s almost not even particularly kinky sex anymore. Also, Anastasia, a 20 years old virgin, has countless orgasms in her first day of sex, including one during her first time — and she has never ever masturbated. What? All due to her being masterfully manipulated by sex genius Christian Grey. Virgin girls, please, believe me when I tell you, take responsibility for your own orgasms. Your partner´s ability certainly count for a lot, but there is much we must learn about ourselves first, and work to be done by us every time we have sex if we want to get there.

Grey is a spoiled, filthy rich control freak, and everyone encourages Anastasia to love it because it´s just so great to be the object of those wild displays of affection translated in new cars, phones, computers, clothes, airplane ticket upgrades and showing up without invitation or early notice… right? Isn´t that what every woman wants in the bottom of their hearts? Fuck, no. I like ridiculously extravagant gifts, but I also enjoy being consulted about their convenience from time to time, and most of all, I do not want to exchange my freedom for your expensive presents, thank you.

There´s popcorn literature, I accept that. It´s like Indiana Jones, but written. Popcorn literature, as popcorn movies, can also be brilliant works — think Mario Puzo, Ken Follet, Tom Clancy at their finest (I´d mention Harry Potter but I have not read a single line of it — did love every one of the movies, though, and do find the world J.K. Rowling has imagined a work of welcome creativity). Fifty Shades of Grey is not popcorn literature. It´s just bad, really bad.

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