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These Waters Be Shallow

2009 March 19
by Baibh Cathba

So, like, if I start typing with this bubbly tone, I’m so sure I’m not going to be taken for an academic.

I was browsing the web when I came upon some of this interesting stuff on DeviantArt (a staple of my futzing around life). The picture Condition X by raza-d is indicative of an odd technological construct that I think ties in to the idea that robots from the Movie Metropolis are “uncanny”. (As well as hitting on “Uncanny Valley” that we mentioned in class when discussing Melanie’s picture of a Gender Neutral Utopia.

Also a Fashion Week article in the NY times references “A Handmaid’s Tale”. Not sure if they’re trying to be “intellectual” or actually saying something here.

Additionally, there’s this: Like A Boy which I almost forgot about. It’s Ciara! I was wondering what everyone else thought about the technology of clothing and the idea that it was sufficient enough (or not) to transform Ciara into “a guy”. It makes me wonder if there are any videos in which a male ballerina is lifted by a female ballerina or something like it.

OK, enough blather, see y’all on monday ^_^

5 Responses
  1. March 22, 2009

    I think that the “Like a Boy” video is very interesting. Not only does she ‘switch’ clothing, but also dance moves and behaviors. The parts that stuck out to me was the switch of the hat from the “boy” Ciara to the “girl” Ciara, the constant symbolic grabbing of the crotch, and the army marching sequence. First of all, none of these are by definition male or masculine, but they are showcased in this video and often in stereotypes. Thinking while I write, it might be interesting to go more into depth about the whole crotch-grabbing routine and its insinuations (I have something here to grab, an act of defiance?, a show of power?..lots of interesting connotations). Trying to think out of the Eurocentric mindset, how might this video be different if it took place in a different culture, country, ethnicity, etc.? There has been a recent outbreak of similar “Like a Boy” songs and videos (for example see Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy”). I don’t know how to put a link into a comment, so here’s the address for the youtube video ( If/Could there ever be a “Like a Girl” video that would gain the same popular acceptance and fandom?

  2. Mista Jay permalink
    March 22, 2009

    To AH: I thinking the crotch grabbing motion is a mix of what you suggested: it definitely has a “I have something to grab here” idea to it and the whole “you need to respect me for it,” which is where the defiance I think stems from since society has its ”correct” and “taboo” ways of gaining respect , and I don’t think grabbing ones crotch falls under the category of “correct.” Yet, this doesn’t stop people from doing the motion. On that note, I personally find the crotch-grabbing interesting in the video because maybe its Ciara’s way of saying, “We’ve got something there too!” I know this is about “switching up the roles,” but what stands out in this video is that these are actually women and thus male, female, whatever: either gender can grab their crotch regardless of what’s actually in the under wear…females may not have anything hanging down, but the video shows that they have no less “right” to grab their crotch if they so feel.

    I don’t know if what I just said actually makes sense, but I thin you brought up a really interesting question AH!

    Also about a “Like a Girl Video”…I have a sinking feeling that if there were such a video and if it become popular, that It would become popular because its seen as a joke. That’s not to say that in videos where the girl passes as a man, the act isn’t/can’t be taken humorously but as we’ve explored in class, there are many areas where males are used as the “norm” or as the template, and thus why WOULN’T a woman want to dream about that? Why wouldn’t she want to be “normal”? (As long as it stays a dream, however.)

    Furthermore there are so many examples of men dressing as women in order to get a laugh, especially because terms such as “drag queen” are used to be the butt of jokes and source of laughter and people can’t get past disrespecting these terms in order to seriously take a man exploring the idea of a women, even if it’s just exploration—a “What if I were a girl?” question instead of a “I want to be a girl.” I don’t think using the question or the statement would make much of a difference.

  3. Natasha permalink
    March 24, 2009

    Also found “Like a Boy” really intriguing, and thought AH’s questions were stimulating ones. Here was someone (Ciara) dressing like a boy rather than dressing like a girl like a boy (though there was a little of that too, with the hoop earrings and diamond rings) — probably a lot of this was also because, as AH said, Ciara acted like a guy too.

    As Mista Jay said, the “switch up the roles” line is really interesting. Reminded me of our discussion with Ryan and talking about gender roles and trans people. Just think that idea of mixing things up, changing things around, “and now, for something completely different” kind of mentality regarding gender roles is a subversive, controversial, intriguing one. The movie shows a new way of changing our current technology of gender: rather than subtle, gradual change over time (evolution?) the change depicted in the video changes the roles quickly and in an extreme way (though it mostly visually focuses on clothing and mannerisms roles and lyrically hints at other types of role switches in more general behavior).

  4. Baibh Cathba permalink
    March 25, 2009

    Looking up “girl boy” brings up the first five or so as Is it a boy or a girl? on a Google search.

    Maybe this is odd of me to mention, but in looking at these two videos (Ciara’s and Beyonce’s), I noticed that there are different levels of performance going on. Not only is it switching up the gender roles, it’s also a little bit of race coming into play. Through the “otherizing” of gender, perhaps it becomes associated with race? I think it’s hard to have a coherent discussion when bringing race into play as well, because the things that are meant to be said are often interpreted in a different manner than they should have. I guess it’s just baffling to me that American pop culture has made it so that it’s really hard to get a “white” boy/girl thing in music videos. Is it odd that gender then becomes “otherized”? (And is anyone else ashamed that our American culture thinks that THIS is ok?

    Okay… on the topic of “white” stuff, I think the boy/girl stuff is mostly relegated to humor (like the comment from Mista Jay, where there is a reference to “What if I were a girl” and drag queens). Here’s a link to It’s a BOYGIRL thing, which is also a gender bending thing (and also a reference to AH’s “crotch-grabbing” point). And also this weird video called “Hey Boy, Hey Girl”. And then a parody on Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl, which I must say is intriguing that all the guys have to act “feminine” to make it clear that it is a parody.

    Also… is it weird that SPIKE.TV of all places has this: She Will Be A Boy?

  5. Baibh Cathba permalink
    March 31, 2009

    Also… anyone see the webcomic Questionable Content?

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