I recently was reminded of “Beautiful” by C-Ags, and therefore reminded of my early college days of obsession with the wonderfully dirrty latina. Why was I so obsessed with the vocal stylings of the ever-reinventing pop star? Well, I’ve always found obsessions in female pop-superstars because of how their feminism has related to my rejection of masculinism.
It started with Billie Holliday and her ironic embodying of the worst traits of conforming women of her time, then moved to Aguilera‘s unapologetic over-sexuality, then transformed to Kelis and Lily Allen‘s vengeful defiance of male expectations, and most recently Lady Gaga‘s approach to fame that is divorced completely from a desire to be whole via a man.* These were all rejections of typical femininity in favor of a problematic masculinity but presented in a female form. They were presenting opposing views to the feminine ideals presented by Britney Spears, TLC, and Katy Perry and they have worked in changing the main stream perception of female attractiveness to some extent. Beyoncé‘s, I use Beyoncé because she is the most popular female artist right now, strange middle ground of mediocre attempts at feminism is a prime example of how far we have come and how far we need to go.
Subverting masculinity on the other hand has to take a different route, and this route is both more effective and less effective. This is the route that interests me as someone who had to pretend to be excited about the day he turned 14 so that he could join his friends in the weight room only to pretend he was sick every Tuesday and Thursday so that he didn’t have to show off his inability to lift the bar on bench press, and as someone who learned to overexaggerate his falls when he got pushed over so that when he did cry he could pretend he was playing up a joke. As women have been subjugated to lower roles in our society it is easy to rebel and say one is tired of the expectations placed upon them. Men’s “roles” are powerful and therefore harder to reject. When you reject your masculinity it comes off as self-deprecation as opposed to self aggrandizement and it’s harder to convince someone that something is good to be and bad to be at the same time. Self-deprecation is a form of defense as opposed to offense and therefore people laugh as opposed to analyze.
That being said, I believe strongly in the power of comedy and think that there is a possibility to use this self-deprecation to both reject masculinity and be idols. This has been done mostly in film, though it has been done in music too.** Because you have to laugh at/with these characters this form is more powerful in its affect of the subconscious. While an audience member knows because of social mores that they are supposed to find this character dumb or silly, they are also finding him endearing and therefore a useful person to copy.
While the male must convince people to pay attention via humor and then subvert people’s preconceptions via attitude, the female must convince people to pay attention via looks and then subvert people’s preconceptions via words. The latter is less effective as we see by the confusing gender politics forced upon the Tina Feys and Beyonces. The former is effective at changing perceptions because of its affect on the subconscious, but that also means that any other strange politics that the author has is also inseminating the mind of his audience. This is what we see with Judd Apatow. He has not dealt with the expectations of femininity like he has dealt with the expectations of masculinity so he doesn’t see the issue as important to address and therefore blows by them in his movies. This becomes problematic only because there is no other option to watch of someone rejecting femininity in a similar fashion.
And I don’t know if someone were to reject femininity in the same way it would become popular. So, now I think Apatow has to use his popularity to produce and put his name on a female writer’s attempt at a similar comedy. This time without it having to do with needing a baby (<- written and directed by a man). He has an untitled Kristin Wiig project in the works that I hope satisfies my desires, but if not we’ll have to rely on pop music.
My point is: nothing is as effective as comedy and we need more subversive comedy from women.
Wow. This has only resulted in me stating the obvious in an obvious way through referencing things I like watching, but because I’ve spent so much time on this and I’m too lazy to write something new, I’ll post it.
I took a shower and realized why this related to me, thus why it was important. Judd Apatow still refuses to reject the elements of masculinity that I have attempted to reject throughout life. He still hasn’t had a girl make the first move and he still hasn’t had a guy reject a girl. Those are the next elements.
* The Pussycat Dolls did a surprisingly subversive song too.
** Both of these songs have problematic female representations.