Amoeblog

Keeping Up Appearances: Lady Gaga Expresses Herself and the 53rd Grammy Awards

Posted by Charles Reece, February 13, 2011 11:33pm | Post a Comment

From the Lacanian perspective, what then is appearance at its most radical? Imagine a man having an affair about which his wife doesn't know, so when he is meeting his lover, he pretends to be on a business trip or something similar; after some time, he gathers the courage and tells the wife the truth that, when he is away, he is staying with his lover. However, at this point, when the front of happy marriage falls apart, the mistress breaks down and, out of sympathy with the abandoned wife, avoids meeting her lover. What should the husband do in order not to give his wife the wrong signal? How not to let her think that the fact that he is no longer so often on business trips means that he is returning to her? He has to fake the affair and leave home for a couple of days, generating the wrong impression that the affair is continuing, while, in reality, he is just staying with some friend. This is appearance at its purest: it occurs not when we put up a deceiving screen to conceal the transgression, but when we fake that there is a transgression to be concealed. In this precise sense, fantasy itself is for Lacan a semblance: it is not primarily the mask which conceals the Real beneath, but, rather, the fantasy of what is hidden behind the mask. So, for instance, the fundamental male fantasy of the woman is not her seductive appearance, but the idea that this dazzling appearance conceals some imponderable mystery.
-- Slavoj Žižek [emphasis mine here, but his below]

The internet is already aflutter with Lady Gaga's obvious appropriation of Madonna's "Express Yourself" for her new single, "Born This Way," which she performed tonight on the Grammys (in a style more or less like what you can see in the above video). In an interview with 60 Minutes before the show, she referred to herself as a sociologist of fame, "academic" in her research. This research doesn't seem to have taken her much further than Madonna, but her rediscovery of the latter's wheel of fortune contains a good deal of truth to it. After all, Madonna was a master at tweaking the mainstream, having it think that its boundaries were being transgressed while the status quo remained. Turning her concerts into self help seminars, Lady Gaga passes on the secrets of her success to her fans between songs: you can be anything you pretend to be as long as you wear a believable costume. Honesty here is a matter of being true to the mask one wears. There's no pretense that anything's underneath. When photographers want to shoot who she "really is," she replies that her appearance is who she really is. Her costumes mask the fact that there is nothing being hidden. So she's a good Lacanian:

In order to exemplify the structure of such redoubled deception, Lacan evoked the anecdote about the competition between Zeuxis and Parrhasios, two painters from the ancient Greece, about who will paint a more convincing illusion. First, Zeuxis produced such a realistic picture of grapes that birds were lured into picking at it to eat the grape. Next, Parrhasios won by painting on the wall of his room a curtain, so that Zeuxis, when Parrhasios showed him his painting, asked him: "OK, now please pull aside the veil and show me what you painted!" In Zeuxis's painting, the illusion was so convincing that image was taken for the real thing; in Parrhasios' painting, the illusion resided in the very notion that what we see in front of us is just a veil covering up the hidden truth. This is also how, for Lacan, feminine masquerade works: she wears a mask to make us react like Zeuxis in front of Parrhasios' painting - OK, put down the mask and show us what you really are!

Too bad she's not a better musician.

cee lo gwyneth paltrow muppets grammys

It's a bit like making notes from the underground when commenting on the Grammys, but I can't help thinking masks are about all that's left of popular music. I saw Usher's little white hope imitating Michael Jackson, a black Elton John singing with an emaciated Miss Piggy, and Muse ripping off Marilyn Manson. Then there were the tributes, which, to be kind, only served to remind me of the absence of those being celebrated: Norah Jones, John Mayer and Keith Urban trying to do Dolly Parton; Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston and some gals I didn't recognize trying to do Aretha Franklin; Mick Jagger trying to do Solomon Burke; and Bob Dylan trying to do Bob Dylan. And "country" has come to simply mean fatter than pop stars (Lady Antebellum), while "indy rock," uglier (Arcade Fire). As popular music has increasingly crossed class, genre, race, age and region -- has become music for anyone (at least, according to the Grammys) -- it's done so by being homogeneous sludge. It's easier to hear actual distinctions in electronic dance music. I'm not disagreeing with Lacan, just saying no one's good at painting believable curtains these days.

(In which we write this.)

Posted by Job O Brother, September 6, 2010 01:39pm | Post a Comment
writer's block
I love everything.

For whatever reason, I am suffering from a rare case of writer’s block. This is my second attempt at writing an Amoeblog today, the first being a page-long history of the adoption of our second cat, Maybe. By the time it had devolved into a story about how she had murdered my family, I finally put a stop to it. I hate cute stories about cats – psychotic or otherwise.

But it leaves me at square one, which is totally my least favorite square. Square eight is the place to be. It’s the one with lemonade.

summer
Here's a picture of lemonade to look at with your eyes. (You're welcome.)

Even though I have no idea what to write about today, since this is the Amoeblog, I know I must introduce music, film or TV into the subject matter, so let’s start with these things:

Yes, that is Phylicia Rashad, (then Phylicia Allen) singing a song from her album, Josephine Superstar, a disco-concept-album merging the music of Josephine Baker with dance beats. I don't actually have an opinion on this one way or the other, but I thought you were old enough to know about it.

Continue reading...

The 12 Days of Coachella: 9 Debut Albums

Posted by Amoebite, April 12, 2010 01:27pm | Post a Comment
"One man's attempt to dissect the method to 3 days of madness in the desert"
  - By Scott Butterworth


On the 3rd weekend of April my Coachella will give to me.....
.....
12 DJ's.....11 Angelenos....10 Duos Duet-ing....

....and 9 Debut Albums:  

Passion Pit
Hockey
The XX
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
The Temper Trap
Miike Snow
B.o.B.
Florence + The Machine
Little Boots

Coachella 2010 Lineup Debut Albums

Each year, the stages of Coachella are graced by legends in music, many with careers spanning decades and musical catalogs expansive enough to fill the entire 3-day weekend. But there's also another pool of artists at Coachella each year -- usually found on the smaller "tent" stages or in the early hour slots of the main stage -- making a name for themselves in the music world on very limited but deserving musical output. Coachella promoters make a profession of spotting these artists early and presenting them to us before the "rest of the world" catches on. And it's not rare to see some of these artists, who are featured in the smallest font on the above flyer, go on to headline the festival in future years. The following 9 artists are playing Coachella this year on the strength of their debut albums. All 9 of them include singles that have permeated diverse avenues of pop culture within the past year, but all 9 artists have inaugurated their careers with "albums" that bite as hard as their "singles" bark. 

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Shadow Dancing in The Desert: Fever Ray Hits Coachella

Posted by Aaron Detroit, April 1, 2010 10:00am | Post a Comment
Fever Ray
Reason 1,867,456,378 those Indio bound this Spring have cause for celebration: Karin Dreijer Andersson aka Fever Ray is bringing her astonishing stage show to Coachella this year. And that is exactly what she brings: a stage show. Fever Ray’s 2009 Lynchian performance at The Fonda was one of the most visually evocative and vividly memorable Pop music shows I’ve ever attended. Stage set with an array of blinking antique lamps, Andersson appeared through heavy smoke and incense decked out in a colorful quilt-like shroud and a head-dress that could have come straight off of one of the Wild Things. Anderrson served as the ringmaster over a band of masked men (which features Fever Ray album collaborators Van Rivers & The Subliminal Kid) for an intense 12 song set that also featured a bevy of stoner-ready laserlight grids that created an eerie green virtual ceiling for the living-room-in-the-middle-of the-woods/Pagan-Seance vibe that she appeared to be going for. But unlike most high-spectacle Pop concerts, Fever Ray’s presentation was not done to mask low-quality/without-meaning Pop songs, it was there to enhance the stark, supernatural atmosphere and sometimes even somber moods of her songs. During “Keep The Streets Empty For Me,” the ‘virtual laser ceiling’ lowered over the crowd to make the large space seem uncomfortably intimate, if not claustrophobic, then dissipated just as Andersson intoned, “Uncover our heads and reveal our souls.”

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Best Pop Dance of 2009!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 23, 2009 10:00am | Post a Comment
Don Ford, our resident pop dance expert and floor manager extraordinaire here in San Francisco, has made this list of his favorite pop dance releases of 2009! Check em out!

1. Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

lady gaga fame monster




2.
David Guetta- One Love

David Guetta- One Love



3. Patrick Cowley
- Catholic

Patrick Cowley-Catholic



4. Ultra Nate - Alchemy

 Ultra Nate - Alchemy

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