Congratulations today to everyone who was finally able to get their relationships made official in this window between our state being told to shape up and its inevitable attempt to get this decision stayed or over-turned. Including some dear friends of mine. Today was a huge day for equality, and though I’m sure there will be efforts made to impede it, this is still a great step forward for so many people. I just knew I was saving this last bit of Laphroaig for something special, and I raise a toast to all of you. You have suffered, unable to get that which I could easily and yet have previously so often dismissed. The unfairness of that has always deeply saddened me, and I am inexpressibly happy to see it changing finally. Cheers, to all of you, and to a more equal future.
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The Masaccio Exchange
Posts about the art world, theory, society, and other national topics.
File this under nothing to do with anything, but I was reading into some stuff about the Marvelverse after hearing more about Joss Whedon’s upcoming S.H.I.E.L.D series, and things got a bit tangential (as they are want to do after Wikipedia enters things). Long story short, I was reminded of the character X-23 when I learned they’d paired Gambit with her for a while. And, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this.
For those of you even less up-to-date on Marvel than I am, X-23 is the ‘successful’ version of Wolverine, except with boobs instead of mutton chops. She’s a clone of him, with all his powers, except she was actually successfully programmed to be a weapon. The driving interest in her character is that once that program cracks, she sets out to redefine herself as a person. And that’s cool, it’s a neat, interesting idea. But, well, there’s that thing where she can really be most easily described as Wolverine with boobs. She’s not really her own person, she’s another, more popular character… but female. And she has no moral compass or personality, which leads to her always being told what she should or shouldn’t be by stronger male personalities (hence my indecision about how this would work with Gambit, Marvel’s greatest Lothario.) It’s a bit of a mixed message, for sure. They were clearly going for a commentary of some kind, but it gets lost under all the typical comic book cheescake. And boy is she guilty of that:
Seriously, I haven’t seen such a delicate balance of pleather and unabashed sexualization since Eliza Dushku was a regular on Buffy:
Unlike Faith, however, whose fashion changes as her character matures and becomes more comfortable with her own self, that is X-23’s post-revelation outfit. Save it’s not exactly her personality that’s getting revealed. So, I guess in the end, she comes across to me as Marvel’s equivalent of a Not Quite Feminist Phil meme. She’s got a lot going right, but then it all gets horribly subverted and Marvel’s left not getting why we’re giving them a funny look.
Ultimately, she seems sorta like the anti-Outlaw to me. I won’t lie, Outlaw is easily one of my favorite Marvel characters, despite being so minor. And part of that is because of her particular variety of cheesecake, I won’t deny that either. But here’s the thing: Outlaw clearly started out as just a good cheesecake-y character to put across from the very bro Deadpool. She’s not only got only the most generic of mutant powers (some poorly boundaried enhanced strength and durability stuff), but she looks like this:
And, not only does she dress like a stripper, but her character’s bio specifically includes stripping in her past occupations (before being a person who kills other people, much like X-23). But unlike X-23, who’s supposed to be serious but the sex keeps undermining it, Outlaw’s supposed to be sex, but they keep undercutting it with her actually being a person. The boobs she admits herself are fake, for her own confidence. The hair is a wig. She wears jeans and hoodies these days when not on the job. She has an apartment somewhere. She hates being called by her childhood nickname because she still has esteem issues from it. You know, relatable stuff. All around, she’s a person poking out from the cheesecake veneer. She’s Inez, and Outlaw is just a veneer and she’s bluntly honest about that.
Heck, let’s compare farther. Here’s a nice tender/quiet moment between X-23 and a male co:
Gambit: relaxed, at ease. X-23: stiff, vacant gaze, doing her best impersonation of a real doll. Now, one with Outlaw:
Note how despite there being actual sex involved with Outlaw, she still manages to come across as less of a sexual object than X-23. It’s that, it’s exactly that. X-23 is supposed to be some awesome commentary about finding identity in a world where she’s always been told what to be, which should have been some awesome feminist commentary. Except it gets totally undermined by the cheesecake and the patriarchal ‘guidance.’ Outlaw, in contrast, was supposed to just be a sexy blonde before something happened and they gave her humanity. X-23 makes me uncomfortable, but I root for Outlaw any time she shows back up these days. Funny how that goes, right?
“You have to change people’s perceptions. Baselitz says women don’t paint very well, with a few exceptions. Men don’t paint very well either, with a few exceptions.”
Agreed. Heck, I certainly don’t paint very well, and I do have a penis.
I’ve been reading a lot about the new minimalism lately. And by that, I mean about a lifestyle usually assumed by reasonably affluent, tech-savvy young people who are embracing the notion that life is simpler with less stuff. I also know, thanks largely to the design sense of Sir Jonathan Ives of Apple, that design is also currently embracing a renewed love of the minimal. Apple’s industrial design, Microsoft’s paradigm-formerly-known-as-metro, content-centric white-space-rich websites (which you’ll note I’m certainly guilty of). Minimalism is in, and among certain types of people, it’s highly desirable even.
Interestingly, the people who seem to most desire a minimal lifestyle are either A) creative people, or B) people inspired by and consumers of work done by creative peoples. Which leads to the curious realization that minimalism is more or less inherently unsustainable, or at least very willing to turn a hypocritical blind eye.
What I mean is, you show me a creative person without a billion tiny messy possessions, and I’ll show you a creative person who’s reached the wonderful point of handing all the mess to underlings. Every creative person I know is only a psychological snap away from being a hoarder. Some of them are more organized than others, some much more messy, but they all have a catalog of tools, materials, and resources hidden away that would make your average minimalist go into shock. For example, while I love, love, love the dream of someday having one of those spartan, minimal living environments and living my life from a tablet, a phone, and a Kindle, the only way I could pretend to manage it would be to have an offsite storage for all those pesky things that keep my studio ticking. Just a quick list of things that would have to go:
- A dozen tubes of paint, a half dozen brushes, stand oil, linseed oil, and gamsol, glass palette, glass scraper, and rags.
- Painting easel
- Work table
- 2 dozen hardboard canvases
- 4 primed canvas canvases
- Over a dozen finished and unsold paintings
- Work table
- Cutting matte, box knife, Xacto knife, matte cutter, 3 rulers, t-square
- A dozen rattlecans of various fixatives ad adhesives and paints
- Two vertical filing cabinets, filled with (among other things):
- Charcoal sticks
- China markers
- Colored pencils
- Bookbinding tools
- Paper stock
- Mixing jars
- Label maker
- A camera, four lenses, a Quadra two-head kit, barndoors, reflectors, reflector adapters, soft box, strip box, PLM, two stands, background stand, Gorillapod, various gels
- Several partially used matte boards and foamcore sheets
- Miscellaneous fabric and canvas scraps
And more that I’m surely forgetting. I’ve also just decided to make latex masks, so, I’ve added plaster of paris ad Sculpey to that list. And that’ll need bowls and forms. I don’t even want to count the various types of tape and glues I’ve accumulated. Simply put, the only way to be an artist and also minimalist would be to maroon all your stuff in a remote “studio” and pretend that doesn’t count. That, or just kinda suck at being creative.
And that’s the other catch. For all those minimalist living off a Kindle and some iPads… those are devices made by creative people, who are almost certainly incapable of actually living the fulfilled life they describe, but ironically make that minimal lifestyle possible in the first place. A fact which makes each next smug assertion that a life of less will make a better life grate me more and more. Minimalism is an artform, not a lifestyle. It’s best not to get them confused.
Toward the end of the discussion I explained: “People make all kinds of different decisions about gender. Sometimes, as we grow, we might not want to pick one or the other, and that’s OK; we don’t have to.” I wanted them to begin to see that our lessons were not only about expanding the gender boxes that we’ve been put into, but also questioning or eliminating them altogether.
If you need a break from your family, or just have a few spare minutes, this weekend and want to fill your time with some worthwhile reading, you could do worse than to read about Melissa Bollow Tempel’s approach to gender issues for elementary school kids.
Found via Megan.
Hey, look, it that’s shot I did the other month, in a paper. Neato.
Congratulations, by the way, to my lovely friends over at ETC for their write-up here. They work hard and deserve all the attention they can get. They also deserve a bit better fact checking on name-spelling, but, for a labor-of-love publication, one can’t judge too harshly.
Romeo and Juliet still starts its proper run next week, with shows on the 15th, 16th, 17th, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th at 7:30pm. Matinees on the 17th and 24th can be had at 2:00pm with cast and staff talk-backs after. More information over on their site, yos.