Sunday, May 1, 2011

One of the things I really love about Melbourne...

... is that when toxic fuckwittery and mindless, destructive, dangerous shite like American-style "beauty" pageants (ie competitions) for lipstuck, fake-tanned, bumping and grinding six-year-olds (have a look at the one in the second photo, I mean just look at her) threatens to take hold in the city, they read its horrible cultural signs correctly and resist it for all they're worth. I love Melbourne for its thoughtfulness and its substance when I see this kind of thing. For some reason it's a city that contains a high enough ratio of ordinary thoughtful people (to, well, the other kind) for an effective number to dig their heels in and protest the house down when the more demented aspects of western culture show their faces. And it's right across assorted demographics and suburbs, from Northcote or Prahran where you'd expect resistance to Balwyn or Vermont where you wouldn't, so much. Go, Melburnians. Run this diseased crap out of town on a well-designed rail.

18 comments:

The Elephant's Child said...

And tar and feather both the organisers and parents who think it is OK.

KJ401 said...

Would appreciate that EVERY SINGLE person who condemned Henson joins the protests, emails their local member or requests the Fed Minister for Immigration rescind Hill's visa.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

KJ401, I thought of Henson too. Henson photographs unadorned adolescents: people who are not children, and who are already self-sexualised, if I can put it like that. Henson's work is about the human condition. Spray-tanning six-year olds and teaching them to pout and stick their nonexistent hips out is about the post-human, or possibly pre-human, condition.

KJ401 said...

I agree with your definition of Henson's work - but many of his detractors were claiming his work sexualised his subjects in some way they found problematic - what will they see in the horrors of six year olds pouting like so many trainee Playboy Bunnies? Cute? hetero-normality? Future Desperate Housewives?
Sorry - my hypocrisy alarm is shrieking.

W/V: aemenois. Indeed.

Mindy said...

Go Melbourne!

Dave Bath said...

Hmm - I'd be surprised if other states didn't have a similar disgust when faced with this bit of American "culture"... But not perhaps in Sin City. (Years ago, a colleague who'd fled Yugoslavian conflict said "Melbourne is a European city, Sydney is American." Does anyone know if these monstrosities made inroads in the more civilized areas of Europe, even Berlusconi's sexist Italy?)

persiflage said...

I totally oppose the child beauty pageant phenomenon, which does indeed sexualise little girls. Equally I deplore the fashions for little girls, which also sexualise them. However, much to my surprise, and before all the furore arose, when I saw an exhibition of Henson's photographic work, I found it creepy, and quasi pornographic. I don't dispute his photographic talent, but I would never want him to pick on my granddaughter as a subject. Nor permit it.

As I disapprove of both, am I permitted to express my views without being abused as an uptight person whose views cannot possibly be have any merit?

I think you can be an ardent feminist while still having problems with both sorts of sexual exploitation.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Dave, I'm sure they would. But I like Melbourne's organised seriousness of purpose about it, if this article is anything to go by. Somebody once said that if someone in Sydney has a good idea, they throw a party; if someone in Melbourne has a good idea, they start a magazine.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Persiflage, yes, I agree that a lot of the Henson is creepy. But I think that is part of its point. It is creepy in a way that some of Coleridge and quite a lot of Poe and nearly all of Aubrey Beardsley is creepy, not in the way that South Australian MPs getting done for child p0rn and middle-aged men luring young girls to lonely spots with their online personas is creepy. I think makeup and shiny bra-looking things and suggestive poses on little girls is a lot closer to the second category.

Misrule said...

Just squeaking in a word for/defense of Sin City and We Who Live In Her and Object to Tiny Girls Being Dressed Up as Strippers: our Fairfax Sunday paper came out pretty strongly against this pageant today. (Haven't seen the Terror, but can't imagine it was anything but Shocked and Outraged.) We Sydney-siders are not all morally bankrupt, Dave, whatever your apparently authoritative colleague once held to be true.

Dave Bath said...

Misrule - I wasn't making a blanket accusation about SinCity types, and I'm glad Fairfax raised the issue in both Melb and Sydney. I *was* questioning that it was a Melbourne-only thing, however tempting it might be for a Victorian such as myself.

Hmmm. On Henson. Those photos seem to say "the borderline for sexual identity is somewhere around this age" whereas these competitions seem to trumpet "as soon as they are out of nappies".

I'd thought it couldn't get any worse here when I was a single dad dealing with the first cohort of "tween" daughters - we were all totally unprepared and HATED it ... but the parents supporting these competitions obviously have a very different attitude. I wonder if there is a difference between the ages of the parents of these girls versus the general population - are older mothers less likely to be represented via these competitions, or are most of the competitors coming from age cohorts that were tweens in the early 1990s or later?

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Oh dearie me, what have I started?

1) I wasn't saying for a moment that it was only a Melbourne thing, only that Melbourne was particularly good when it comes to thinking about stuff. And you know, it is. They need to stay inside a lot, so thinkers have evolved over time.

2) I love Sin City with a passion and always have, even now when it sometimes seems to me to be almost unlivable, as NSW seems almost ungovernable.

Re the shadowly badlands of adolescence, yes, exactly. And also, Henson is interested in what happens to the human mind and the human body at that age, and the ways in which the adolescent self responds to and manages the adolescent body. The pageant horrors think it's all about pink satin.

If statistics turned out to be meaningful here, I don't want to be unkind but I think IQ might have more to do with it than age.

Casey said...

"Re the shadowly badlands of adolescence, yes, exactly. And also, Henson is interested in what happens to the human mind and the human body at that age, and the ways in which the adolescent self responds to and manages the adolescent body. "

Yes lets continue about Henson. And what I love/hate/fear/get disturbed by about his work is the way he sets the liminal site of adolescence in that menacing landscape of fear that is Australia beyond the burbs that gets repeatedly expressed everywhere. Just think Lantana, Jyndabyne. There's always murder out there in them hills. But which, Pav, if you recall from your own suggestion - echoes all that stuff in the Pierce book. About children lost in the landscape. And the fear of the exile far from the familiar shores of England.

WV: Shire. Now listen, there's Sin City then there's the Shire. Now I don't know what went wrong out there but I for one would rather swallow cut glass.

Another Outspoken Female said...

But Kerryn, you've got it wrong, it promotes "a positive and fun family occasion that will boost entrants' self-confidence". Well at least that's how the mother of three entrants sees it.

Mitzi G Burger said...

I'm waiting for Krudd's charge of "obscene" against the corporate paedophilia pageants...

Ann O'Dyne said...

... from Melbourne, that as said above, I hope (but am not confident that) everyone who came down hard on Henson making art, comes down harder on anyone who uses a girlchild under 14 to create an image aping sexual provocativeness.
Anyone.

This is however, the city which stages the Logies and the Brownlow C*unt in all their cleavaged, and highly publicised horror which feeds the aspirations of the pouty grindy children.
We have just had news headlines of some low-IQ woman in Tasmania pimping her own 12 year old for chrissakes.

Andy Muirhead appeared again in Hobart court today, but he is apparently a beast and these mad mothers are not?

Stephen L said...

I so hate having to endorse Tankard-Reise on anything, but she's dead right on this one, and she's organised and gets onto these issues before anyone else, so I guess I'll have to sign up to her facebook page.

fancemen. I think the verification should be fancewomen.

Penelope Cottier said...

Another, perhaps similar (?), import from America that also makes me feel uneasy is cheer-leading. It seems that this also paints women as mere adornments, directly alongside the 'male sporting heroes' they are celebrating. There was material distributed at my daughter's school advertising a cheer-leading club. (Not at the school, fortunately.) I can't help but feel that cheer-leading if only a small step (with a swished pom-pom) from a beauty contest, although I have heard it referred to as a sport.