Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Core Post 5 - Post Racial – Post Feminist – Post Offices- Delivering new forms of hegemony

This week has put me in the position where all my ideas about feminism has been complicated and quite frankly, it is difficult to determine a clear stance on the topic, which is probably a good thing, since according to our writers this week, there has been much disagreement within feminist ideas throughout history.  What is crucial however is realizing the differences between post-feminism and third wave, which I formally associated together as one unified movement.  Butler asserts that we should not consider post-feminism as a movement, but rather a sensibility, one, which can be adopted under certain circumstances (44).  The collective narrative of this week’s writers seems to be that the difference between  third wave and post-feminism is that while the first disengages and complicates the past only to further the movement in a new trajectory, the latter dismisses feminism altogether.  This puts me at a weird position because everything that may have seemed positive in terms of race and gender before, are now being problematized, except of course for the seemingly obvious examples that are problematic,  like shows like Sex and the City or Totally Spies.  (Do you guys remember Totally Spies, it was this show about hyper-feminine girls stopping evil and dating boys using devices like hair dryers and lipstick lasers and well you get the picture…loved that show though lol). 
Anyway, between Mcrobbie’s article and Butler, the statement is made that the commodification of race and gender, while adding visibility to underrepresented groups, renders invisible the struggles of the past and any necessary need for identity politics in the present. Nickelodeon in some ways is amazing for influencing girl power, but in their invocation of the urban, the representations can linger in the realm of the problematic.  A recent example of this is Nickelodeon calling upon the past star, Kel Mitchell, and pairing him with recent nickelodeon star Benjamin Flores Jr, in their portrayal of a hip hop artist and his son.  Their identity of these two black actors with past success on the channel,  are constructed to be rappers juxtaposing the two middle class white children whose fame comes from creating a start up company.  Here the show presents two models of success, but pits their differences in terms of “cool” and “techie”.

When business people start to market these identities or “flavas” as Mcrobbie would refer to them, the situation is similar to how it feels when  your parents use young peoples’ slang.  Quite frankly it is weird to have your mom say, “how was school darling, I hope it is lit?”  In the same token, when difference becomes “cool” through business standards by assumable upper-class business identities, inherently something problematic arises.  What is cool usually does not align itself neatly with the mainstream.  In other words, these gender and racial identities in this neoliberal context are becoming new hegemonies in television (Butler 45). With it, old systems of power are reinstituted by rendering the ongoing problems invisible and instead difference becomes a masquerade, a term Butler uses frequently, putting me in the mind to Doane’s notion of masquerading femininity when it proves to be beneficial.   I like that the writer uses Nicki Minaj as an example of post feminism, because just as I am confused about feminism, Nicki Minaj does not provide fans with a cohesive idea, rejecting any type of labeling.  She labels herself as a Barbie, but features this image dismembered on her first album cover (36),  perhaps to connote her fractured identity.  Besides her multiple personas, her album playlist differs in styles through the progression of each song.  She switches from hardcore rap, masculine in nature not by the genre but in her phallic references, to a heteronormative love song.  Her entire style is comprised of several styles, displaying a fractured idea of femininity and feminism alike.  Also, addressing the labeling of public figures, I am unsure of our current status on feminist and race politics, but perhaps we are in a post-post stage, where these identity problems are more visible, but at the same time still are being commoditized.  I think more towards the construction of the recent 2016 Oscars and Beyonce’s most recent brand shift.  Throughout this week, classmates taking the cultural studies’ course have been discussing an article about how Beyonce is post-racial because of her refusal to discuss those topics, opening up her image to the same criticism of The Cosby Show.  However, in her last album, she features a direct invocation of feminism in the song Flawless and in Formation she makes her identity as black apparent for the masses.  Is she forced to make this shift to resist any labeling of a post identity?  For the Oscars, comedian Chris Rock promotes a discourse on racial exclusion in the Oscars and comments on black artists protesting the show.  However, keeping in mind that the entire show is scripted, how much of this discourse is contrived or being used as an attempt to eliminate the need for discussion.  By making it, “cool” to talk about identity politics blatantly, are we creating a false hope similar to the phrase, “oh, I’ll fix that eventually, but at least we talked about it.” These are questions I ask myself I just want to present as I flood the bottom of this post with memes and videos… J 
TOTALLY SPIES OPENING (Omg it is coming to netflix haha)

In reference to Kendrick Lamar's performance at Grammy's, ( The Cutaway to the audience and the use of Black identity politics in award shows ) 


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  2. Hi Ray! Your mention of this year's Academy Awards (specifically the Academy's decision to have Chris Rock host the event and thereby defuse any #OscarsSoWhite tension using a black comedian as interlocutor) with the meme of the lady in the audience reacting to Kendrick Lamar reminded me of another performance at the Oscars: Lady Gaga's performance of her "Best Original Song" winner, "Til It Happens to You."
    The song was written for 2015's documentary about campus rape, The Hunting Ground, and carries a powerful message that victims are often treated with unbelief and how this can inflict greater trauma than the act of rape itself. At the end of Lady Gaga's performance, the survivors who were interviewed in The Hunting Ground appeared on stage and held out their arms, on which were written phrases such as "Not Your Fault" and "Unbreakable."


    It was a very moving and sobering performance which received a standing ovation; the camera was careful to linger on the sympathetic, galvanized, teary-eyed faces of (female) celebrities such as Kate Winslet, Rachel McAdams and Brie Larson. However, I couldn't help but remember in this moment the reaction of the Grammy audience to Kendrick Lamar's incredible performance. As far as I recall, audiences seemed mostly baffled.

    My intention isn't to minimize the trauma of the Hunting Ground survivors, nor that of any survivors of sexual assault, but it is interesting to me what is accessible to audiences in terms of social commentary, and what is potentially alienating. While Lamar's performance does not relate directly to post-feminism, its conflicted representation of empowerment/disempowerment of blacks in America seems in a way less legible, more "politically active" than the anthemic, collectivistic performance of Lady Gaga which emphasizes (as the contentious documentary itself does) the individual stories of the survivors. Still, both performances demonstrate a potential for rupture (of race/gender/class/sexuality hierarchies) in intersectional spaces such as popular awards shows.