The Met’s Costume Institute Gala has morphed into one of the year’s biggest celebrity fashion events, partly because the gala uses each year’s theme to inspire the fashion of its guests. We wrote about last year’s Met Gala (“China Through the Looking Glass”), here. While the theme did inspire some truly beautiful looks (think Rihanna’s yellow silk couture by Chinese designer Guo Pei), the exhibit itself was a hodgepodge of problematic Orientalism, dabbling in the same exoticization and fetishism that mark many designers’ relationships with the “mysterious East.”
This year, the Costume Institute turned to a new fashion frontier with its theme “Manus x Machina,” an exploration of the way that fashion and technology intersect. In the past, the line between high and low end fashion fell roughly along the handmade vs machine-made—think painstakingly hand-beaded couture gowns opposite factory-churned fast fashion. But this divide is no longer so clear. New technologies, culled from mass-production, enhance the creation of the most rareified designs (for example, the intersection of thermoplastic film and hand embroidery), forcing us to rethink the relationship between industry and what has traditionally, but perhaps not quite accurately, been classed as pure artistry and craft. Continue reading “Met Gala 2016: Manus x Machina and Red Carpet Looks”
I know we’ve already done this for weekly dance break, but #LEMONADE. I couldn’t post the whole visual album and it’s still too soon for new choreo videos, so for now, have more “Formation”…especially now that we know what Hot Sauce means.
Also YOU NEED to watch these ladies bring tap-dancing to a whole different level, because who knew tap could be this cool?
I think it was pretty clear what the choice for this week’s dance break was going to be, especially after Beyonce brought some black-history-month realness to an otherwise bland Superbowl half-time show. In her most politically charged and powerful video yet, Queen Bey brings together Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, the police state, violence against black bodies, and black excellence in one stunning piece. If you haven’t seen it, I’m not sure what you’ve been doing the last couple of days. If you have, this is a good excuse to watch it again.
As we all come down from our turkey and/or capitalism-induced hangovers, let’s take a moment to give thanks for two beautiful things: hip-hop and friendship. Our Big Sound Saturdays playlist this week brilliantly celebrates female friendship (and more) in this guest-curated playlist of hip-hop and R&B jams, put together by M.H.
Most of you may know about the Bechdel test. If a movie does not feature two women on screen without a man present in either frame or conversation, we use the Bechdel test to declare it to be on the wrong side of feminism. Of course, this test is overly simplistic and often inaccurate. The famed lesbian feminist cartoonist, Alison Bechdel, after whom the test is named, recently admitted, “You can certainly have a feminist movie where there is only one woman–or no women.” I agree. I think some episodes of the TV show Entourage are surprisingly feminist in how they bend expectations of masculinity. But I think it also useful to have a metric for measuring gender equality in something as hyper-masculine as the film industry. So it got me wondering: why is there no Bechdel test for music? Specifically, for hip-hop and R&B, two genres famous for being about either a) individual financial success, b) heterosexual prowess, c) defeating one’s enemies with hot rhymes or d) all of the above. One of the most famous movies to pass the Bechdel test is Thelma & Louise because it is all about female friendship. I thought the same might be true for rap songs about friends. So I went on a search for some smooth and/or hard jams about platonic love. Continue reading “Big Sound Saturdays: That’s My Best Friend!”
…my point is that there is no easy choice between choice and social determination — that choice itself is not the solution to the oppressive pressures of racism and patriarchy because the choices we have (and the fact of choice at all) are constructed by the very systems we wish to use them to undermine.
Let me tell you something. My feminism doesn’t much care about Beyoncé. My heart may beat to the beat of “Partition,” but debates about the potential feminism of Yoncé’s lyrics, ass, or marriage leave me cold. Bey’s choice to make her body and sexuality central to her persona is held up against the fact that such displays are always filtered through white supremacist patriarchy. We can only ever think of her as fully in control of her performance, image and body, or totally and abjectly victim of a system that uses women’s bodies against each other. Her self-determination is always besieged by the fear that she might have been working for the male gaze all along. But no, we shudder, the male gaze is foiled and frustrated just so long as we can convince ourselves that this was Bey’s choice.
Choice, we pant fiercely. Choice will keep Beyoncé safe — choice will save us all.
Our beloved FLOTUS took the stage with Beyonce at the 2015 Global Citizen Festival to raise awareness for her new campaign, 62 Million Girls. In partnership with the initiative Let Girls Learn, 62 Million Girls seeks to empower girls around the world, helping them to continue their educations, eradicate gender-based violence, achieve economic stability, and more. The focus on education and earning potential gives girls greater bodily autonomy and control of their own futures. Continue reading “Michelle Obama Promotes #62MillionGirls and the Let Girls Learn Initiative”
I get the same kind of feeling watching these women (and men!) dance that I imagine Serena Williams’ fans must get watching her win. This dancing is excellence that doesn’t worry about being sexy or beautiful or put-together, though it is all of those things. How powerful to watch these diverse women on stage, precise and strong and sexy, reveling in their bodies and their performance. How powerful to see their expressions of pure absorption, fierceness, and joy.
I’m really, really excited about this one, you guys. I could watch this an untold number of times (and have, to be honest). There’s something so invigorating, eye-popping, scream-worthy, so YES! about this crew’s performance, especially in WOD’s front-row presentation. It’s up close, in your face greatness. The energy is infectious. Continue reading “Weekly Dance Break: Royal Family (#WODLA)”
Like Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood,” Madonna’s video features a slew of famous friends. Aaaand like “Bad Blood,” the song itself is kind of beyond the point. Personally, I think Madonna automatically wins because her video includes the following things:
2) Nicki Minaj
3) Dance power couple Aya Sato and Bambi (who recently got engaged!)
4) A bunch of sock puppets. One of them has pizza in its mouth.
We technically already have a dance break lined up, but Nicki and Beyonce’s MV for “Feeling Myself” offers up a deliciously relaxed counterpoint to Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood,” which can feel overproduced and try-hard. Even with Taylor’s legion of gal pals, it’s hard to beat queens Nicki and Bey in one MV.
The full high-res version is only available through Tidal, apparently (pfffft), but there are lower-res versions up (and, like Rihanna’s “American Oxygen,” there will probably be a Vevo version soon.) Find it here.