Category Archives: Popular Culture

More on @ArianaGrande’s Thoughts on the Objectification of Women

A quick look back at Ben Shapiro’s comments on Ariana Grande’s Twitter outburst shows us the extent to which rape culture rhetoric dominates seemingly innocuous comments. Take Mr. Shapiro’s piece, written for The Daily Wire. It’s not overly long. It’s not massively critical of Ms. Grande. It kind of makes a point that you might agree with – until you stop to think about what it is that he’s actually saying.

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In a nutshell, Mr. Shapiro sees Ms. Grande equally responsible for the objectification of women as the young man Ms. Grande complained about w/r/t the old “hitting that” comment. Mr. Shapiro voices his concerns over the objectification of women, and points out that this is a bad thing that should not happen – all good stuff, you’d think. However, Mr. Shapiro makes plain his feelings on Ariana Grande’s conduct in public, starting with her Twitter account profile pic. He says that in the picture Ms. Grande is “crouching while naked,” which I’m not actually sure that she is (she actually looks like she’s wearing a one piece body suit – dancers wear them), and even if she were, you can’t see anything offensive or inappropriate for the setting in which it appears.

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Mr. Shapiro then quotes Ms. Grande’s words at length, before stating that Ms. Grande’s lyrics and those of her associates (Mac Miller) objectify women and that she should stop this behaviour. He picks up on one particular lyric that speaks of “bad girls” and that he takes that phrase as meaning “that women generally want to waive consent.” To paraphrase Ms. Grande, here: wtf. Ms. Grande’s lyrics, as a popular culture artist, means that they are never going to be all that explicit – and what exactly is wrong with someone wanting to access a bad girl persona? By bringing the consent issue to the fore, Mr. Shapiro is saying that if such women are raped then that’s their fault – and that’s exactly what rape culture rhetoric does, it justifies horrific thoughts w/r/t the treatment of women.

Next, Mr. Shapiro quotes more of Ms. Grande’s lyrics:

I’m talkin’ to ya

See you standing over there with your body

Feeling like I wanna rock with your body

And we don’t gotta think ‘bout nothin’

Then he asks: “Is the crude and ugly phrase “hitting that” a good deal worse than this description of a sexual relationship with no emotional connection?” Now, the four lines could actually be interpreted in quite an innocent way. There’s nothing overtly sexual about the lines, but Mr. Shapiro chooses to treat them as such. He also finishes by stating that Ms. Grande’s “art degrades women by objectifying them and contributes to a culture of objectification that she rightly opposes when it’s applied to her.”

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Mr. Shapiro’s response to Ms. Grande’s feelings of being objectified as a woman is poorly thought out, lacks evidence, and uses common clichés to do with how a woman should behave and present herself to the world. Mr. Shapiro does not wish women to be objectified, but he’d kind of like it if they just stopped dressing so provocatively, and waiving their consent and all. The History of Stupidity prospers at Mr. Shapiro’s keyboard, sadly.

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(Still) Troubled by #MrRobot and the #Infinite Loop of Insanity

On the 4th or perhaps 5th time of watching, Mr. Robot, Series 1, episodes 1-3 still do not disappoint, and so the question remains… at what point will the show start to fail its subversive underpinnings and come crashing down to reveal nothing but rubble with no sign of the essential footings required to maintain the kind of integral structure I’d once imagined was possible? (Architecture metaphor?).

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There’s just no other word for it. Subversive. That’s what it is. It’s just so subversive in its first incarnation that it’s almost impossible to fail to notice its subversiveness. So, what went wrong with Series 2.0? A question I’ve been grappling with all summer, and until attending a Rosi Braidotti masterclass I’d imagined I’d be struggling with such a question a good while longer.

But now a glimmer of hope.

Perhaps there’s a need to apply Deleuzian principles in order to make sense of the shift from subversiveness to a kind of style over substance? But, better check back later when more reading has been done…


Cassettes & @PeterDoherty – How Very 1970s

Following on from the post, “If Technology is All That, What’s Going On With the #Vinyl Revival?,” there follows the news that new music is being put down on cassette format. Now, you’d have thought that cassette was also deader than dead, as was previously thought of our old friend vinyl, yet here we are with none other than Peter Doherty producing a cassette version of his new solo album, Hamburg Demonstrations.

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If this trend carries on, where do we end up, when at one end of the spectrum we have the Musk/TESLA guy banging on about the colonisation of Mars (and let’s hope to goodness that he’s using colonialism in a progressive way), and at the other we have cassette players coming back into vogue?


(Still) Troubled by Mr. Robot_2.0 – #MrRobotFinale

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<title>(Still) Troubled by Mr. Robot_2.0 – #MrRobotFinale</title>

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<p>Not as taken with season 2 as with season

Not sure if season 3 will be worth the wait

Feels like the potential for subversiveness is being eroded

Looks, feels, and sounds too much like a good video game (thinking GTA)

Drawing on well-worn tropes of character development feels fake

Going a bit too David Lynchy but not as raw as Lynchy-winchy

Is “star” involvement with production getting in the way

It seems that way</p>

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(Still) Troubled by Mr. Robot_2.0 – Sitcoms #MrRobot #HackingRobot

Do any of us still watch sitcoms in the way that we used to (probably a question for the over 40s this one)? The opening to episode 6 of Mr. Robot, “m4ster-s1ave.aes,” gave us an Elliot-esque 80s/90s-sitcom dream sequence as its opener, full of canned laughter and knowing winks to the camera, in a car that for the large part has film-stock scenery whizzing by in the background. Now, there’s not necessarily anything groundbreaking about this because we’ve seen it before, but Mr. Robot yet again seems to want us to become hyper-aware of our situation in the world, where we realise the ways in which we are “let in on the joke” of TV shows, etc., even though the real joke should be that we’re all sitting and staring goggle-eyed at a screen for however many hours a day (think Cable Guy finale).

And that’s the troubling thing about Mr. Robot. For all that it wants us to be in on the joke, and yes, it must be stressed that Mr. Robot isn’t actually a sitcom, we’re still expected to knuckle down, stare unblinkingly at the screen, and soak up all the tension from scenes such as Angela’s attempts to hack the FBI at Darlene’s request. At what point do we as the viewing public turn round and refuse to be entertained in this way – and is that what episode 6 is pointing towards?

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(Still) Troubled by Mr. Robot_2.0 – Symbolism #MrRobot #HackingRobot

Episode four of Mr. Robot, Season Two, provides a piece of symbolism that may or may not be pointing towards one of the greatest unexplained, and largely unreported, events of the 21st Century. It is hard to say whether it is, or whether it isn’t, because the show is quite confusing with respect to the messages it sends out (see most of the previous Mr. Robot posts for an expansion of this thought).

The show probably gets away with this very piece of symbolism because it takes place during a dream sequence, and so, the weird, dreamy kind of stuff taking place perhaps softens the effect. But still. To have a high-rise building suddenly collapse in free-fall, in New York of all places, seems kind of bizarre, and it must have crossed the producers’ minds that adding such a scene references the collapse of World Trade Center 7.

WTC7 is rarely mentioned. So much so, that there is even a campaign to raise awareness of its collapse. Now, whether you’re into “conspiracy” theories or not is beside the point. A skyscraper collapses at around 49:40 of episode four. It suffers no damage. It just collapses in free-fall. When you see it you think: demolition. Given that it is widely recognised that buildings do not just collapse in such a manner, and that WTC7 is believed to be the only building to have ever done so, in New York on 11th September 2001, are the producers directly referencing this event, or is it just a coincidence?

There is probably a whole range of possibilities here. But here are two that I grapple with on an almost daily basis.

  1. Mr. Robot is a vehicle for expressing subversive thought, and it speaks to those who long for an alternative to the present capitalist system of Western industrialised nations. Referencing WTC7 in this way is a reminder to not believe the mass media, and to recognise the ways in which it manipulates current events to fit with the propaganda of the dominant ideology (or something like that).
  2. Mr. Robot wants its viewers to believe the above statement. Because most viewers stream the show as and when they choose, there is a record of those viewers (those who are meant to lean towards the sentiments of statement A). Here, there is the potential for a Minority Report kind of tactic – recognise those with conspiracist/anarchist/revolutionist/whatever leanings, and monitor them (or worse).

Or it could just be a TV show, and there’s nothing more to say than that.


Awesome #WonderWoman @GalGadot One-Liners #3

#3 (Wonder Woman asks: What is a secretary? The response to this is: I go where he tells me to go, and I do what he tells me to do.)

Well, where I’m from that’s called slavery.

Click the images to view Wonder Woman (2017) trailer via YouTube.


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