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Monday , August 2, 2010
Random Video Entry: In Which I Obsess Over That Antoine Dodson Video Everybody's Watching
So, if you've been alive and somewhat on the Internet for the past few days, you've probably noticed there's a new viral video thing going around. Antoine Dodson is a "new Internet hero"--Antoine's sister Kelly woke up in the middle of the night to find a strange man had broken into the apartment she shared with her brother in Huntsville, AL, and the man had gotten into bed and was trying to take off her clothes. She screamed and fought, and Antoine came in and scared off the attacker, who got away but left plenty of evidence. WAFF interviewed Kelly and Antoine about the attack, never realizing that their news report would become Internet viral gold, mostly because of Antoine's impassioned, unadulterated message to the would-be rapist. It's hard to describe the video, so watch for yourself to see the Internet magic that is Antoine Dodson:
This video is an amazing combination of OMG, WTF, disturbing American political frisson and kinda-awesomeness that makes it a cultural studies scholar's wet dream, and an interesting opportunity to look at the reasons we watch something again and again and again--to examine why some videos become so freaking compulsive and what it says about us in general. The most obvious talking point when it comes to this video is Antoine's basic self--maybe it's not PC to say it, but he's a riveting combination of gayness, Southernness and "blackness." To get all performance-studies on you, it's rare to see these strands of performance come together in one text; you just don't see people like Antoine Dodson anywhere in a popular culture that generally still marginalizes people of color. And poor people of color? Forget about it. You can read the extraordinary interest in the video as a kind of tokenism, and some people have criticized Antoine as reflecting poorly on the community in Huntsville. Antoine's just being himself in a particularly raw way, but that self is both fascinating and unacceptable, depending on where you stand in terms of race, class and sexuality.
Of course, there's no denying that the video makes a lot of people laugh at first. There's an OMG/WTF factor--Antoine's combination of style, emotion and authenticity is a magical elixir that entire reality television franchises are made out of. There's an authenticity to his feelings of anger and frustration, but the distance between his expression ("Hide your wife, hide your kids, hide your husband 'cause they be rapin' everybody!" is now an instant catchphrase, inspiring numerous remixes) and the very real emotion that lies underneath them is often what creates comedy. (Watch any comedy, and what's often funny is how seriously people say ridiculously-put things.) I'd also argue that the video's comedy comes from the collision of Antoine's real, genuine emotion and style and the general "reasonable, i.e. sterile" measuredness of the newscast format. If you want to argue that the newscast format is a container that wraps up disturbing news in a way that makes it palatable to watch over dinner, then Antoine busts out of that wrapping in a big way.
But the fact is, this isn't a comedy--it's ultimately a real attempted rape episode and the attacker is still out there. What's remarkable and riveting about the video is that he's genuinely ANGRY that someone almost raped his sister. This, to me, should be a natural reaction when someone is attacked like this--but it illuminates the extent to which rape as a crime is NOT treated with any seriousness overall in our culture and society. (Two words here: ROMAN POLANSKI.) It's disturbing to watch the video upon repeated viewings and notice how the family is frustrated and angry, but completely unsurprised by this crime. (It's worth watching the followup video to be even more disturbed by how the crime recedes even more from the news report.) It's also interesting to note that nowhere in the footage do you see any uniformed police, just one little crime investigator at work, which is an interesting visual message about how seriously crimes against women of color and poor communities are taken. In a way, what other recourse do Antoine and his sister have but to bring awareness to what must have been a frightening ordeal for them via direct address through the media? Antoine's straight-up charisma and bad-assness was able to penetrate the general indifference that rape as a crime is given in our culture, and on some level it's just fucking refreshing that someone gets angry and personal about an attack like this. Thanks to the video, they have "awareness" up the wazoo at this point, but what steps have been taken to catch the attacker? I hope they catch them, and I would love to see a video of Antoine dressing down the perpetrator in that uniquely bad-ass, righteous style without some smirky-ass news reporter tools getting in the way.
Tuesday , July 20, 2010
WTF/OMG: Protruding Spines on Club Monaco Mannequins
As a recovered anorexic (and a feminist, and a HUMAN BEING), I was incredibly outraged to discover that Club Monaco have gone out of their way to conceptualize and manufacture mannequins that are visibly dying of starvation.
"No!" said one Club Monaco marketing executive to his or her colleague, "It's just not enough to display our clothing on mannequins that wear a size zero. Size zero mannequins imply that our mannequins may just be naturally lithe. Not good enough. I think we need to communicate to our clientele that our clothes look best on ANOREXICS."
"Brilliant," said the other Club Monaco marketing executive, "Anorexic mannequins. Perfect.."
This is one of the most disgusting things that the fashion industry has done to perpetuate and validate the anorexic body yet! I absolutely cannot comprehend why these people would consciously decide to sculpt emaciated spinal cords into their mannequins. How could people do that? Don't they realize that they're being evil?
I remember what my life was like when my spinal cord looked like a Club Monaco mannequin spinal cord. It was a LIVING HELL. I was miserable, and I was dying. I was suffering from a legitimate psychiatric illness that I desperately wanted to escape from, but- for a long time- couldn't, because anorexia is a manifestation of powerlessness. I don't want to oversimplify the situation- eating disorders are complex, and arguments like "Girls are going to walk into Club Monaco and see these mannequins and then starve themselves!" are uneducated and unrealistic.
Walter Benjamin once said that "fashion defends the right to be a corpse"; that quote has always resounded with me, because it certainly defended mine. I can only speak from personal experience, and these mannequins remind me of a period of time in my life when I was searching for the strength to get myself out of the black hole that was my eating disorder, and the fashion industry made it a lot harder for me to do so.
When I was sick, I would walk into a high-end clothing store, and employees would fawn over my ability to "Wear anything!" Or, I'd flip through an issue of Vogue, and take comfort in the fact that models' arms looked just like mine did. The fashion industry validated my right to an anorexic body, and, as an anorexic, I took comfort in that. Two years ago, these mannequins would have been another roadblock inhibiting my recovery; another foil, reminding me that anorexia is actually totally cool and awesome and sexy and acceptable.
I would not wish anorexia upon my worst enemy. It's pretty fucking tragic that Club Monaco, apparently, would wish it upon their clientele.
Friday , July 2, 2010
WTF/OMG: How on Earth Did I Miss the Memo on "June 1st, 1974"?
Um, were you aware of the fact that on June 1st, 1974, Brian Eno, Nico, my boyfriend Kevin Ayers, and my other boyfriend John Cale formed a temporary COOLNESS SUPERGROUP, and it was recorded, and an album exists of this legendary event, and it is called June 1st, 1974, and I'm listening to it right now, and it's the greatest thing I've ever heard in my life???????!!?!!?!?!?!
I mean, seriously. HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS? It sounds like a dream I'd have. This is the exact sort of thing I usually dream about. I dream things like: I went to work, and encountered a problem at work, and then I found out that the Kinks released a concept album about cats. One dude turned into another dude, and I was confused about who my real boyfriend was, and then I found out that Richard Hell co-owned a candy shoppe with Diana Ross and then there was an earthquake. I had to carry out some bullshit task, and then Paul McCartney was in 101 Dalmatians, and I'd never realized it before.
I dream things like: JOHN CALE, BRIAN ENO, KEVIN AYERS, AND NICO RELEASED A LIVE ALBUM TOGETHER. Only, this time, I didn't dream it. It happened, in real life, and here is "Heartbreak Hotel" by John Cale:
Tuesday , June 8, 2010
The New Lady Gaga Video is So Mid-90s Madonna!
It's crazy how mid-90s David Fincher-directed Madonnsky "Express Yourself" this is, right down to the crazy bra at the end! Gaga is one of those pop culture figures that make me all ambivalent-feeling, but I can't deny how much I love this song, mostly for its Swedish disco-y/ABBA/Ace of Base qualities. "Alejandro" the video lacks the bananas factor that "Telephone" and "Paparazzi" has for me; I kind of wish it had more genuine WTF/OMG-ness to it, because when it does, it has that spark of humor and cheekiness that Gaga needs, I think. It's dark and stylish, but maybe that's my thing with it -- it's not a dark and stylish song. It ultimately looks like a W magazine photo shoot come to life, which makes sense, considering fashion photographer Steven Klein directed it. I do like the dancing Mexican dudes with the bowl haircuts and leather suits, though. But I'm a big fan of dancing Mexican dudes in anything, really.
Monday , May 10, 2010
WTF/OMG: The Weirdest Thing that Ever Happened in 1996
I think I'll probably always have a chip on my shoulder about how the Psychedelic Renaissance Crispian Mills* intended to catalyze fourteen years ago never really, like, happened.
Kula Shaker's K was something like the sixth or seventh album I ever bought, when I was eleven, further proving for once and for all that I am cool. Seriously, though? You have to admit "Tattva" is superior to approximately 35% of Nuggets II.
*Who is a babe, and a Capricorn
Thursday , June 4, 2009
WTF/OMG: Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" Video is A Paper Bag Full of Nuts
I have no consistent stance on Lady Gaga. On one hand, sometimes I'm like, "Ugh, Lady Gaga! Ur so annoying! Put on some pants! Get some modesty! Who you think you are, the Kanye of dance pop!" But then there's no denying that her hook-y songs are totes fun to get down with on a dance floor, and she can always be relied upon to bring the crazy to the pop culture table. And lo and behold, she's gone and made a video for her single "Paparazzi" that is probably the nutsiest thing that will probably hit the top 40 this summer. Directed by the mega-nutso Jonas Akerlund, it starts off in some mansion with some Swedish dialogue (?), goes into some semi-NSFW hot-and-heavy action with a dude from "True Blood" that ends with Gaga getting pushed off a balcony -- and that's even before the song even starts. Then she does some crazy dance in crutches, a metal leotard and a wheelchair, there's some making out with blonde triplets from "Daisy of Love" on a sofa and I'm not spoiling ANYTHING because a bunch more stuff happens that will def-o make you go "WTF?!!!!!!!!!!!" in a big way.
I big-upped the song "Paparazzi" a few Heavy Rotations ago 'cause I loved the super-catchy melody and the combination of cynicism in the subject matter and innocence in its treatment; here, she definitely brought out the dark subtext of the song, which is either a sweetiepie take on being an obsessive stalker or a song about really wanting to be famous. It's kind of a perfect distillation of the whole Gaga persona -- half the time you're rolling your eyes, the other half you're like, "OMG, crutch dancing with jazz hands waiters? That is kind of genius!"
(I still love this song, and I wish they hadn't interrupted it with that whole...well, you'll see.)
Thursday , May 7, 2009
WTF/OMG: Little J from "Gossip Girl" Pulling a Baby Courtney Love!
Yeah, it's Taylor Momsen performing a few nights ago at the Annex with her band, the Pretty Reckless:
Effin' nutso, no?
Tuesday , April 28, 2009
OMG, but not WTF: New Fiery Furnaces Album Out July 21st!
As much as it is a giant Whopper of a tragedy that I have been single for a frickin' year, things are generally looking up for Laura Jane! For onesies, it's basically summer; for deuces, a bunch of other things that used to totally blow about the state of my union are now picking up some much-needed steam (but, believe it or not, even ole blabbermouth LJ needs to keep certain things sacred); for triads, THERE IS A NEW FIERY FURNACES ALBUM COMING OUT ON JULY 21ST, 2009!!!!!!!!! Only two months, two weeks, and six days to go!
All rock music is a sort of dramatic music. And since the times are tough, it makes sense to have that "drama" be something more like a version of Taxi than something like a version of Titanic. We like Taxi better than Titanic anyway. So we hope that some of the songs on this record can be used as theme songs to folk's own personal versions of Taxi. Because--ideally--the dramatic setting of the music isn't provided by the story or image of the given act or band. It's provided by the lives of the people who use--listen to--the music. That is pop music's promise and problem, or danger. So be careful and don't get canceled.
Sounds fine by me! Irritatingly, however, there is no song on I'm Going Away called "I Am so Goddamned Grateful that Laura Jane Faulds of nogoodforme.com, the Most Charming Girl on the Face of the Planet, Entered my Life (Signed, Matthew (not Eleanor!) Friedberger") This is as shocking to me as I'm sure it is to you. But hey- that's exactly why we love the Fiery Furnaces! You never know what they'll get up to next!
Anyway, the tracklisting for the new record reads as follows:
01 "I'm Going Away"
02 "Drive to Dallas"
03 "The End is Near"
04 "Charmaine Champagne"
05 "Cut the Cake"
06 "Even in the Rain"
07 "Staring at the Steeple"
08 "Ray Bouvier"
09 "Keep Me in the Dark"
10 "Lost At Sea"
11 "Cups and Punches"
12 "Take Me Round Again"
I am presently most excited for "Cups and Punches," but you never really know with these types of things, do you? The least exciting listed song title is, in my opinion, "Take Me Round Again," so I'm sure that will be my favourite, since that is how cruel life tends to do its thang.
Also, here are two cool videos of the Fiery Furnaces being cool in a cool-looking location:
Tags: Eleanor Friedberger, excitement, Fiery Furnaces, fish tacos, frat boys, future best friends, happiness, I'm Going Away, July, Laura, Laura Jane: The James Joyce of Fashion Bloggers, Laura loves Matthew Friedberger, Matthew Friedberger, The Fiery Furnaces, The Friedberger siblings, Things are looking up for Laura Jane, Thrill Jockey
Monday , April 6, 2009
WTF/OMG: Billy Corgan Is Going Out With Tila Tequila
The weird thing is, when you think about this long enough (like, for the amount of time it takes to upload a jpg file to Movable Type), it kind of starts to seem like the most logical thing in the world. Right?
Monday , March 23, 2009
WTF/OMG: The Lindsay Lohan Commercial for Fornarina
I don't think much commentary is needed to explain the OMG/WTF factor once you watch this commercial that Ms. Lohan did for Fornarina. It's like bionic Lohan or something -- Lindsay barely looks like herself as we know her, but in a strange way it's like, "THIS IS WHAT HER SOUL LOOKS LIKE." It's like if a demon were a Barbie doll. Or someone put some acid in the Tang. For once, words fail and all there really is left to say is "OMG! WTF!"
The video is charmingly mislabeled as "Fornarnia," which is completely genius if you think about it -- I kept waiting for a centaur to go rollerskating through in the middle of this.
(P.S. -- Thanks, Cathy, for sending this our way!)