Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ten Hours

It's taken me a while to decode it – it's really smart.

First, it was made by an advertising agency. That is to say they are trying to sell you something, and most important, they are getting money for doing it.


The gender setup is a really good one, and the number of distractions within the video itself – it's a hit parade – do quite well at obscuring its founding lie.

If you still see this thing in terms of gender, then you have, as they say, accepted the form of the proverbial argument. Gender is the distraction – ignore it.

No, the founding lie of the Ten Minutes video is that a person's experience of New York City is translatable to the other 99.9% of the nation's existence, which is to say this video presents an interesting twist on a modern cosmopolitan fantasy: that you can be both in control of who gives you attention and how.

There is a 99% chance you do not live in New York City. There is also a 99% chance you fantasize about who you'd be if you did. For young women, this video does not present a “reality” they wish to change so much as one they aspire to adapt to. “I'm better equipped for my future as a wealthy inhabitant of New York having seen this!” goes the invisible thinking.

“I'll be strong!”

Sure you will. Just make sure you've got some stylish clothes, hair, and makeup.


“But she wasn't wearing makeup!” sings your hopeful inner voice. I just choked on my whiskey.

“And still she has all these options to turn down!”

They got you, Princess.

“I don't want any of those guys!” is the lie you whisper to yourself. Of course you don't – they're caricatures of “poor.” You're the woman in the video – striding confidently on your way to a rich husband who will appreciate your “inner beauty” all the while invisibly protected by a crew of... wait for it... men.

Maybe you misinterpreted the title of “..a WOMAN in...” which is code for “A vagina in conventionally attractive packaging.” Maybe you didn't rewatch it as “...a video crew accompanying a person...” because that's what's really going on.

Leaving aside all possible conversations about parts I & II, there is a deeper (IMHO) and darker (IMHO) question to all of this that has been very noticeably (IMHO) absent, and maybe only becomes obvious in a moment of mescaline-induced clarity: Was 'feminism' the joke or the punchline?


I don't live in New York. I only know the marketing. It's marketing says its one of highest concentrations of 'enlightened' people. Or something. Lots of museums, right?

So where is the feminism? The kind that's permeated flyover bookstores for the last 40 years? If after decades of Susan Faludi, Susie Bright, and Maya Angelou book tours a conventionally attractive woman is still unable to walk down the streets of New York without being noticed, then what was the point of 'feminism?' Was it just to sell books??

The answer, as they say, is hidden in the question. “Yes,” for those of you still wondering if words have meaning or not.

And now we come full circle. An advertising agency – an entity predicated on selling you things – is reminding us that 'feminism still has a lot of work to do' and by 'work' they mean the purchasing of things.

Because you'll still buy it if there's a pretty girl on the cover.


Is Taylor Swift a woman?

She is one of the most attractively packaged millionaires in America right now, and that's only to remind you that packaging matters.

Oh, sure, “don't judge a book by its cover” says the person who wears clothes because they hate their body. Next you'll want me to believe the book's cover influences how the book feels about itself. You're insane.

What would “Ten Hours of Walking in New York as Taylor Swift” look like? How long can it take you to imagine it? Why bother? That work's already been done – just watch her videos.

But the video got you because it said “woman” which is an incredibly broad (haha!) caricature of which 51% of the population easily self-identifies. Which is why nobody bothered to ask why Taylor Swift would get such different treatment than a “woman” and if you're a “woman” and “not Taylor Swift” maybe you should be asking questions about why she gets more cultural deference than you.

The answer is obvious to me, but that's because the question was never for me. You'll have to read that again to grasp what I'm illuminating here. Sure, Taylor is feminine, there's no doubt there – but if she is insulated from a “woman” experience in the normative sense of the word, we have to ask what it is that insulates her, and I have the answer: she's single.

Even if she got married today, she's still 'single'. Hard to grasp unless you're a 99%'r hunkered down in some Montana man-cave softly stroking your NFL app between hours-long cuckold porn masturbation sessions. Even his simian brain understands world-class pussy versus YOU. Taylor Swift may be both unattainable AND a fantasy, but that's how she wins. A “woman” is attainable, and they are everywhere, which is why men can treat them like shit. I'm sorry, did you think economic theory only applied to your checkbook? Where did you learn that, Home Ec?


Life is horrifically 'unfair' in every measure, and that makes a terrific predicate for selling fantasies that say otherwise. I empathize – that soothing balm is, well, soothing. I'm not claiming to be immune, here. The Ten Hours video got me at first, too. I was all wrapped up in defending my own ego (“I'm not those men!”) when it struck me that was the intended outcome. Men are supposed to want to 'protect' the video's subject by saying “I'd never treat you like that.”

“I'll respect you.”

The joke's on you, ladies: turns out men got the feminism memo after all. “Feminism” is about making women feel better about themselves.

Taylor Swift is not a feminist – Taylor Swift is a capitalist, and that you can't cleave those two things apart is not completely your fault. But you suspect it, so secretly you loathe her success. You want to assign it to her looks, and not to a ruthless dedication to exploiting herself and everyone around her to the maximum. Because that would mean she did the work and you didn't. And that would mean you're not in the running for Queen, Princess.

The System knows this, and is prepared to sell you personal trainers and spas and fitness and yoga equipment the moment you're ready to [verb] your life back on track.

Just as soon as you get the kids in college.

Kids Today

“And nothing had the chance to be good......nothing ever could.”
  • Simply Red

Kids today.

They have it so easy.

But I'm grumpy because I've been eclipsed. Because my choices are no longer undoable. I'm fresh out of fresh starts.

One of my students is eleven and wants to play like Joe Satriani. So he goes on YouTube every afternoon and watches Joe's instructional videos (which have been uploaded illegally by thousands of people all over the world.)

For the last six months, this kid has been immersing himself in Satriani. Not the albums so much, but the instructionals.

I never had this. I never had a chance at this.

Sure, I have a few hours a week to get schooled on YouTube – god knows I take every opportunity now, too. But I'm 42 and just past any real chance at economic sustainability in the professional arts. It doesn't matter anymore how good I get.