STUFF ABOUT (STEFAN) MIRR-R, (KAJA) CXZY, CELEBRITY AND TUMBLR
Masculinity- mature, virile, muscular, athletic, professional- these are properties that are celebrated and privileged, unlike their antonymns: immature, weak, delicate, un-athletic, unprofessional- which funnily enough, are often associated with femininity or girlieness.
I wax lyrical about girliness but I do not address masculinity in my essays usually- mostly because girliness/epicinity is subversive- feminine properties are not traditionally associated with success- as much as the attributes of the masculine are. I refer to how popular these feminine tumblr personalities are- in most cases supposedly slight forms of expression are the reason for their popularity- their style, their looks, their personality or lifestyle are the draw- like celebrities who aren’t really considered professional any sense.
It’s quite obvious all this, sorry to spell it out- and who is it that is often tarred with this reputation for being vacuously obsessed with celebrities- women. But as much as this analogy fits between IRL celeb and TUMBLR celeb, it’s not a perfect fit really because these are two very separate if seemingly relative worlds- celebs get a lot more money out of this for one thing, heh.
Celebrities are people commonly understood as spectacles- there’s a sense of uselessness about them- of a disproportion in their degree of affluence to work and substance/toil etc- And the ones we’re most obsessed with- the gurrrls: PARIS, NICOLE, SNOOKIE, KIM KARDASHIAN, ETC ETC. They are the ones that incense and amuse us the most.
I often talk about how popular online personalities express their girliness/appropriate it, exacerbate it etc, etc but they are also quite witty and usually feminist which isn’t necessarily something that could be said about these notorious IRL celebrities.
I enjoy how on the wikipedia page for masculinity you find a Greek statue of Heracles- as a standard for the absolute masculine. For femininity- it’s The Birth of Venus pictured on wikipedia- famous for her love beauty and fertility.
Apollo is the god of the Sun, dreams, and reason while Dionysus is the god of wine, ecstasy, and intoxication. wikipedia duh.
I would like to introduce the framework of the Apollonian and Dionysian - perceived as dichotomous in the many readings on the wiki, to what I observe on tumblr, briefly. In a lot of Western philosophy/literature- they are presented as oppositional, although they are not overtly, in their Greek context, considered opposites or rivals.
Current tumblr lifestyle/fashion trends (neon hair/gaudy patterns/oversize platform shoes/club kid vibes/seapunk, sexually and emotionally frank micro blogging etc) are intoxicating, incessant, feminine, creative and chaotic- this could be seen as Dionysian (God of Wine) aspect of tumblr- the undercurrent or opposition is the Apollonian (God of Sun)- the sobriety of tumblr- observable as a blogging style where the content or form is minimalist, distanced, restrained or disciplined in some way.
The Dionysian is a force of chaos and destruction, which is the overpowering and alluring chaotic state of wild nature. […] socially constructed Apollonian virtues accounts for the historical dominance of men (including asexual and homosexual men; and childless and/or lesbian-leaning women) in science, literature, arts, technology and politics. Camille Paglia 1990 Sexual Personae via wiki on this shit.
I guess you could consider celebrities Dionysian- associated with drinking and sex and chaos, excess, depravity- the kind of things we want to read about celebrities getting into and out of, these professional vocationalists are antithetical to our own everyday lives making them obvious figures of contempt and aspiration- as those who seem to live hedonistically and lavishly without exerting Apollonian work-ethic/ behaviour/ philosophy. As we go about our Apollonian lives we live vicariously through their Dionysian antics.
I was once, decidedly not now, jokingly referred to as tumblr famous, I talked about this and explored it in former essays. I felt part of, or at least aware of the feminist, girly, 90s revival tumblr trends that shakily grew with popularity over about 2 years.
Content that is now and for a while has been ubiquitous on tumblr- anything nostalgic from the 90s- can be immediately banked upon for notes- recent articles have found- people of any age seem to claim ownership over this decade and early y2k trends- compulsively reliving their own relatively recent history, perhaps as a means to identify with a time before the critical mass of materiality (90s/early y2ks) in an increasingly supposedly immaterial and less chronologically distinct way of life.
The critical mass point is say before say about 2005 where definitive websites of my generation were formed- youtube etc- giving us all the ability to generate and access cultural content from all eras/areas in a globalised way like never before- it’s not truly that different but it may seem so.
The short-lived remote trends of the 90s are going round a second time amongst youths who never experienced them directly in the first place - the content is understood ironically/iconicly but expressed as immediate or nostalgic to affirm an individuals authentic connection so they can be involved in the communities that form bonds/are able to source content over such common pasts and thusly, ultimately benefit in a social manner.
Sharing this kind of nostalgic content helps organise a sorta cultural psyche and make sense of the pre-web 2.0 existence for those who have lived through that. Those who haven’t lived through that- the younger tumblr users- feel disaffected because they cannot relate to, yet still want to be in on this diverse subcultural language/discourse so they fake it.
^Tumblr users reflecting on this very issue.
This where the question of authenticity comes in. Now Meadham Kirchhoff and Jeremy Scott etc, have become exponents of tumblr trends through recent collections, these neon/appropriated cartoon/geocities type material in their collections they will make this language/pool of loaded cultural material ubiquitous, as these collections leak to high street stores etc etc, homogenise etc etc jargon blah.
The flaura and fuana of 90s/y2k fashion have become out of my personal price-range, when it comes to second-hand shoppinh online. Particularly one of the reasons bloggers and young girls could afford this self expression was perhaps through the fact they could get hold of 90s fashion and accessories on the cheap.
So perhaps now this has been truly capitalized upon, maybe these creative bloggers will move on? Maybeeeee, maybe not but it leaves room for an expansion or change in expression that will predictably come about as the 90s stuff becomes increasingly stagnant.
The same principle as mentioned here, relates to how in a lecture we were meant to understand the role of artists according to Clement Greenberg, art critic/theorist of ages ago n shit I don’t care for, except for this statement that artists acts as ‘reluctant innovators.’ Same can be said for bloggers/tumblrs invested in style etc I guess lol.
^Tavi G the public face of teen feminist blogging these days reflects.
So what does this all have to do with the Apollonian and Dionysian thingamy? Well I wanted to present the 90s trend partially produced by the efforts of influential feminist girly bloggers, you still have to consider wider communities like dump.fm, the members of which produce a lot of content that has inspired and networked individuals around net nostalgia/internet archeology etc.
I now find, as maybe many of you will, that brands such as nike and adidas have come back in vogue in the last year or so probably for the same reason the 90s stuff did- this kind of nod to a shared past- where brands were an aspirational language that formed cliques- in terms of haves and have nots etc- I remember that from school a lot.
These brands are distinctly to do with Sports/ athleticism/ efficiency etc, the preserve of the masculine in the Apollonian tradition.
The closeness of this past where these brands related to cultural relevance amongst teens, makes it hard to differentiate between those dressing in reference to the y2k, sense of irony etc and those who choose to still assign the way they dress to these brands as a means to communicate their status, as was perhaps originally intended.
I really like this photo from DIS Magazine. Article here. This kind of slathered in brands look is slightly too good to be true, it’s so hammy- expressing irony/ nostalgia/ creativity- as with much of the 90s revivial but relies heavily on appropriation of the brands logos to ultimately communicate affluence and status etc. They also remind me a lot of Paris and Nicole in the early 2000s from this particular shoot. These kind of brands were purported a lot by Paris Hilton/Britney/celebutantes of my early teens so they have this air of privilege and vacuity that is synonymous with feminine expression. The 90s revival has a far more punky non conformist riot grrrl queer theory edge to it.
The aspirational brand imagery I find/notice on tumblr haha^
Branded sportswear has a far more tribal aspect to it- that comes with sporting tradition and it resists the Dionysian chaotic forms of expression that were put about with 90s revival, it resists creativity but its defo a trend right now, y'agree? Revival of these dominant brands is confusing because they were so prevalent they have resisted becoming directly archaic or nostalgic. There’s so little distance between the ironic wearing of Nike with Chanel on tumblr etc and when my teen peers wanted to wear Nike/Von Dutch etc to express their affluence and aspirations and distance themselves from poor plebs like me.
Where as the 90s revivial is all guns-blazing-colour-and-pattern-and-stickers-andd-D-I-Y-expression-and-creativity, branded clothing is a far more banal, simplistic, uniform-like language.
Of course nostalgia is relative, depending on your time perspective, ones person’s nostalgia can be another’s present, conflict with this is always bubbling in the comments below youtube music videos, which are all ‘thumbs up if you’re listening to this in 2012" etc- which causes conflicts aplenty…
It’s not like I see nostalgia as a static thing that is only obsessed over so vehemently by myyyy generations, I get it happens to everyone- it’s just this on tumblr it’s happening so much and being capitalised upon so vehemently that is seems remarkable. Like the anxieties expressed in this article.
While wearing brands overtly buys into shady capitalist corporations- the distinct pick up of this trend in tumblr is by the queer/gay community. Many young expressive queer/gay tumblr users are responsible for the imagery in this specific essay and they are taking sportswear and fusing it with their own looks. ( Oh and thanks to them for the images, ask me to credit if I have forgotten please.)
To incorporate brands like Lonsdale is a sort of gentrification of the preserve of the lower-middle class lout- particularly in the UK which is also a distinctly homophobic preserve too.
Sports like football here have widespread problems with disassociating openly gay players- now that is archaic… The pornographic content below, that appears without Stefan’s photoshopping, features erotic situations where the partners wear sportswear. Any environment or career where sexuality is repressed/prohibited is going to be the fodder which pornography exploits to satisfy unquenched desires. I like how Stefan artificially produces something which already exists in a slightly different context- and how awkward and skewed the fabrics and images become from Stefan’s efforts, making the already very staged amateur vibe of the models intensified.
Incorporation of these brands into self expression through fashion is a way to address such issues of sexual repression but also helps these brands to be more accessible to young gay teens etc, in ways they perhaps couldn’t have orchestrated themselves- an interesting yet problematic situation.
She takes or reblogs icons screenshots, colour swatches, formats that are iconic of the site and posts them on her tumblr, which has a theme that mimics facebook layout- it irks you, it’s uncanny, like undead facebook- zombie facebook, autonomous facebook, skewing its own formatting with demonic glee.
It reminds me of the way those ads that I spoke of in the crying essay that try and trick you into clicking them by mimicking the instant messaging format of facebook- usually some pouting temptress in the default image who implores you to talk to her. CXZY does so much more than just this but sincerely please check out her tumblr there’s lots of links through her url on here.
Subverting the platforms or systems of expression you engage with daily in the ways CXZY and Stefan do is nothing new but its definitely refreshing to see people engage with their immediate and mess with what is available to them, particularly on tumblr, where innovative activity is hard to find sometimes.
This essay has meandered a lot from girldom and masculinity, to the Apollonian and Dionysian, to nostalgia and celebrity, to sportswear, sexual repression and photoshop. These things aren’t necessarily connected, it’s just the imagery and themes that I reflect on when I open up tumblr. I might come back and edit this tomorrow when I’ve had time to think more but here have my unfinished works babies, lemme get vulnerable 4 u. xx