Monthly Archives: May 2013

LULU: RATING HIM A 6 WON’T MAKE YOU A 10

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Facebook‘s Lulu app allows women and girls the opportunity to ‘rate’ the guys in their life, share the information with other FB users and recommend suitable guys to your friends. It’s only accessible if you list your gender as ‘female’ in your account. Harmless gossippy fun, or something more sinister? The writer of this Girls Globe article is pretty cynical about it, and a good few guys are up in arms; but…
Given the volume of creepy, nasty, sexist crap guys are wont to post about women all over the web, I’m not sure we’re in much of a position to get too butthurt over something as relatively innocuous as a rating out of 10 – though I’m less than surprised that some have and will. I bet MRAs will be hopping mad…
A couple of thoughts: FB and other sites and apps have been notoriously sloppy when it comes to cracking down on sexism directed towards females – be interesting to see how they react to this. And given that the app is only accessible to FB users listing their gender as female – though non-female users will, as the author says no doubt attempt to hijack proceedings by altering their settings and/or creating pretend-female sock-puppet accounts – it’s hard to predict how this will intersect with currently-fashionable conceptions of ‘gender-as-spectrum’. My understanding is that most ‘Transwomen’ come from a background of living as het men, ‘Transwomen’ as Lesbians, so I wouldn’t expect to see much of an uptake from that quarter; but who knows? And if this app lasts beyond the initial novelty phase, and gains traction as a way of sharing useful information – like which guys are genuinely creepy and dangerous – rather than locker-room gossip then it (and similar platforms) might have real ‘feminist potential’ as it were. Mind you, this may well already be happening for all I know, which I don’t, which is no doubt the idea.  I’d like to think so – I feel the potential of the www to provide opportunities for safe space and organising, especially for women and otherwise-marginalised groups, rather than big business, is its best asset. It’s potential for paving the way for grassroots democracy and egalitarianism has scarcely been tapped thusfar, but progress is being made all the time.

With respect to cyberspace, as in meatspace, men and their institutions have shown themselves as quick as ever to try and dominate thru sheer force and naked aggression; and as has been observed throughout history, criminals are seemingly the quickest to capitalize on the opportunities offered by new technology. But precisely because the web – and attendant social media – are primarily information media and increasingly, universally accessible, they provide heretofore unprecedented opportunities for building communities of resistance. Wife-beaters, philanderers and paedophiles who previously evaded detection and capture by moving from town to town, country to country might start to find their options limited. Their reputation – or lack thereof – may well precede them, and loss of social status might begin to achieve what historically-ineffectual legal sanctions in concert with wilful public indifference thusfar haven’t.

Lulu in likelihood won’t be the social ‘magic bullet’ to achieve any of this, but it and other emergent social media might well point the way.

Girls' Globe

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It didn’t take time for it to make news in the men’s locker rooms after a group of sweaty, tired football players pulled out their i-phones and yelped—“what the f**k!”

It traveled faster than just some who’s-that-hot-chick thing that forms the usual mode of conversation at post-practice sessions among hefty male athletes who “just need to relieve themselves of some dangerous testosterone.”

“Hey Higgins that’s you,” cried Ralph, pushing aside a towel and making his way to a big, muscly guy who was recruited to the university a year ago for his innate ability to throw a ball. “You’re an impressive 8.6.”

Who cares if Rihanna’s ass just got bigger on screen and Amanda Bynes just passed a racist remark?

A dude who considers himself an alpha-male, a “chick-magnet” and “the big guy” just got rated on an application by a bunch of giggly, gossipy college girls who were once…

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Integrity: the power of independent action

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An article in today’s Independent newspaper by columnist Jasmin Alibhai-Brown reveals how an anonymous letter sent to her by one of TV presenter Stuart Hall‘s child victims was instrumental in securing his recent conviction for the sexual abuse of young girls. (This article contains upsetting details of sex abuse.)

Whilst recently re-watching TV footage of Mark Williams-Thomas‘ ITV ‘Exposed’ documentaries and the subsequent Panorama episode, I was once again struck by a certain pattern of behaviour: how many players in the Savile scandal – over the course of four decades – visibly squirmed whilst trying to explain how they managed to ignore both persistent rumours, first-hand witnesses and their gut instincts about Savile’s violent, predatory tendencies. To varying degrees they knew, but did nothing…

How refreshing then, to see someone with a moderate level of media clout actually take up the baton and, like Williams-Thomas, use her position for the greater good. Reporting the – anonymous – complaint may have come to naught, she may not have been believed; but she listened to her conscience and took the chance and as a result a dangerous criminal has been apprehended. Unlike Savile he is still alive to face punishment.

Some, including the Mirror‘s FleetStreetFox have argued against the publicising of investigations into public figures accused of historic offences, citing the old saw of damaged reputations. The conviction of serial offenders such as Hall firmly refutes this position. Hall initially feigned innocence and vowed to fight the allegations; but publicity surrounding his case encouraged fresh witnesses to come forward and in the face of overwhelming evidence he capitulated and pled guilty.

There’s a lesson here: honesty, integrity and co-operation bring results. The old boys network, built on career-insecurity and awe that protected the likes of Savile is not insurmountable. Two days ago it was announced that Yewtree detectives will fly to Sydney, Australia to interview a 43 year-old witness to improper conduct on the part of Rolf Harris back in the ’90s. Like so many witnesses to such crimes, her fear of not being believed was an overwhelming factor in her failure to come forward previously. This is what hierarchy, what patriarchy does: it creates artificial power structures where the word of one person is worth less than that of another; where concealment of wrongdoing, of criminality is a surer way of maintaining an illusion of personal, or career safety than is honesty.

The cost to our individual and collective conscience, integrity and health is high, however. I hope Savile‘s – on occasion, inadvertant or naive – colluders, as well as his victims can live with that. I suspect both will continue to be troubled.

Alibhai-Brown has shown herself to be a woman of integrity; and thru her example, several of Hall‘s victims are, one hopes, on the road to regaining theirs.

Gods are dead

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Bit slow on the uptake here, I admit; but as a fan of the original Black Sabbath and an increasingly uninterested observer from a distance of ‘Sabbath’ and Ozzy’s subsequent work I’ve been reluctant to give the latest reunion a chance. Anyway, this is the track God is Dead that the 3/4 line-up have been premiering on the current world tour:

Initial impressions do little to dispel the notion that rock is a young person’s game. This is Sabbath-by-numbers pure and simple: the riffage couldn’t be anyone but Iommi, or at least 30 years back it couldn’t. In the wake of the Doom/Stoner rock movement that Sabbath did so much to pioneer, however, it feels over-familiar and as comfortable as a much-worn and faded black tee, which isn’t what rock’n’roll ought to be about.

I’ve no doubt that the song plays well live, and slots in nicely alongside such classics as Hand of Doom, Electric Funeral and of course, the mighty eponymous title-track; but it plods rather than compels.

Whilst (producer, Rick) Rubin has clearly fulfilled his trademark remit of reconnecting Sabbath with their characteristic sound, one can’t help but wish the band had had the courage to push the envelope a bit more with a younger, more fiery act at the helm (I’m thinking of Rush – a band of similar vintage – and their last two recordings with Nick Raskulinecz).

Then again, maybe they’re playing it safe by trailing the album launch with a single that harks back to past glories and the album is an altogether more diverse affair? Sabbath are often – rightly – acknowledged as pioneers of the ‘metal’ sound: what casual listeners often miss is just how fearlessly inventive they became in the space of that initial six-album-long burst of post-adolescent expression. Departure tracks such as soulful piano ballad, Changes and the rolling, psychedelic brainwash of Planet Caravan; the jazzy inflections of Sabbra Cadabra, Am I Going Insane‘s Bolero and the choral backing on Supertzar. Much of their output wasn’t really ‘metal’ at all, and their last two ‘proper’ albums (Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage) are as exploratory in their way as The Beatles (The Beatles), Strangeways Here We Come (The Smiths), Signals (Rush), Zen Arcade (Hüsker Dü) or any other high-watermark of rock inventiveness you care to name.

My main gripe with the post-Ozzy years of Sabbath‘s career is just how quickly it became a meat-and-potatoes hard rock band, with a preponderance for cheesy Dungeons & Dragons lyrics. Here’s hoping upcoming release, 13 has more to offer than that…

edit:

here’s a couple more tracks the Sabs have been airing on the current tour – thanks to Atleastimhousebroken from AMetalStateOfMind for mentioning that they were doing the rounds, below…

The End of the Beginning has a similar feel to God is Dead, very much in the mould of classic Oz-era Sabbath. Methademic – one of three bonus tracks on the ‘special edition’ CD release – by contrast, sounds more like an Ozzy solo song to me. The main riff is punchy and powers the song along at a good, headbanging pace; and whilst it lacks the compelling melodic hook of say Paranoid or Sabbra Cadabra, I can see it stirring up the moshpit some. A direct, uptempo hard rocker.

I refrained previously from getting into the moshpit of critical opinion re the two big elephants in the room, which is to say a) the absence of Mr Ward behind the drumkit and, b) Ozzy‘s sometimes shortcomings in the vocal department. In light of hearing these live recordings, however, I have to say I’m impressed on the second count. Osborne was never a great singer, but his voice and delivery were always distinctive and an integral part of the Sabbath sound; and he sounds great on the Melbourne recordings. For me, though, Ward‘s contribution to the band’s feel is always going to be missed. With respect to the likes of Vinny Appice, Mike Bordin and Brad Wilk – more than capable players – who have deputised over the years; nobody ever made Sabbath swing the way he did.

 

 

 

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And in other metal news, it has been announced that Slayer guitarist, songwriter and founder-member, Jeff Hanneman has died from liver failure. He was 49. Along with Metallica, Slayer were amongst the early pioneers of the ’80s Thrash Metal sound which is currently enjoying something of a resurgence. As well as drawing on the sound of Punk, New Wave and NWOBHM acts such as Misfits, Killing Joke and Judas Priest, Slayer were big Sabbath fans as can be heard in the clip below which is included here as a tribute to Hanneman.

R.I.P.