I thought I’d give the blog a quick break from Jean-Paul Sartre. You might notice, when you scroll down, a new name in my list of interesting people, other blogs on the internet that I think are worth reading. Some of these are generally interesting people, some I know from the internet, some I know from real life.
Zaren is an old friend from real life. We knew each other in the old country since around 2006, and although we haven’t been in the same city at the same time for very long, we always try to talk when we get the chance. Historically speaking, she came from a background of literature studies, and is now doing graduate work in a gender studies program. As a result, she’s resurrected her old blog, Of Sugar-Baited Words, as a series of meditations on social issues of gender and sexuality of various types and expressions. For the inaugural post on the newly re-defined blog, it’s Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus because that’s how you increase traffic and we live in a tough world where you have to shoot for whatever opportunities come along.*
* It’s why I’ve been trying to figure out how to replicate the reader numbers of my posts on sophistry, Kurt Vonnegut’s Jailbird, and my last argument with P over the purpose of public philosophy.
|Do people even consider this sexually alluring? To me, she|
just looks as if she's falling asleep. And how am I supposed
to believe she's a construction worker? Those boots are
much too large for her.
Are you done?
How about now?
It’s kind of a funny idea, really. The ubiquity of gratuitous and imbecilic nudity and sex in our music culture and the associated collections of visual images (you know, television performances and music videos) are desensitizing us to the point where we don’t even really care. We’ve gone beyond offence, beyond shock. It’s sadly ordinary. It’s rather depressing to live in a world where tits are dull. I never want to live in that kind of world, but it seems to have been thrust upon me.
Here’s her most curious line. “The more accepting we get, the less critical we may become.” At heart here isn’t some substantive moral principle. If Zaren was the type of person who appealed to substantive moral principles, I don’t think we’d have become such good friends. What matters is our ability to be critical, to understand the implications of the images we see. We have to be able to ask why these images in this context, and what those images imply or signify to us, or to someone different from us. We have to be able to ask what the images do.
It’s impossible to form that question, whether in acts of communication or even in thinking, if the images have become so banal that we barely notice them. Have you ever walked by the wall of an urban construction site and seen it covered in hundreds of posters for music shows, new movies, and theatre pieces? Once it reaches a particular level of saturation, all these advertisements become no more remarkable a part of the fence than its wood and nails. The posters could be publicizing the most terrible things, and we’d notice them at least sub-consciously, as signs of events and trends so ubiquitous, it isn’t worth getting upset about.
When we stop noticing strange or disturbing or oppressive images of sex and violence in our lives, we accept that strangely disturbing oppression as no less ordinary than rain in a thunderstorm. Carry an umbrella, and you don’t even notice.