Saturday, March 31, 2012

Women Can Be Sexy and Steretypically Attractive in Music Videos without it Being Shitty, PS I love Insane Music

Image: Peter and Jinxy from the group Santa Hates You framed in blueish purple lighting. Both of them have light skin, dark hair, and are dressed in black being shown from the shoulders up. Peter is upside down and wearing white and black face make-up while holding a magnifying glass in front of his mouth to make it look spooky and distorted. Jinxy is rightside up shown in profile with her hand on her head wearing a black leather glove.

My favorite thing about me starting this blog was that I got back into the scene in hearing and learning about newer acts that I would usually not have heard of. Today (from idieyoudie's site as usual) I learned about Santa Hates You which is a project between Peter Spilles of Project Pitchfork and an Italian Vocalist named Jinxy.

Many folks know that my two favorite industrial genres are "completely insane shit" and "music that makes fun of itself." OK, those aren't real genres but fuck that, this is industrial, I say what I want. And let's be honest, us mad folks need our black clad role models and we love to make fun of ourselves.

Anyways, back to Santa Hates You. So, with my limited experience it has this awesome sound with cheesey lyrics that also sometimes border on something from an mental hospital's art room in the poetry section. It also seems to not take itself seriously at all, while still sounding badass. Which, of course, makes it fucking amazing.

I didn't know how to write about it in the lens of anti-oppression for this blog. But then, a lightbulb went off when watching this video:

I'm always getting pissed about the portrayal and objectification of women in industrial videos. I complain that they are always skinny white girls in tight vinyl, often making out with each other for the dudes, and that is their only purpose in the eyes of the creators of the videos, and often the audience. But here, we have Jinxy. She's got that stereotypically attractive thing going on (ie if she lost the goth paint she could model in a magazine) but she is an integral part of this music and the videos. She's doing her own thing. It is sexy and hot, and of course beat dudes make comments about "wanting her for Xmas" and shit on the videos. But she's not a prop. She is a musician. She and PS are making this music together, and it is very obvious to me when I watch their videos that she is seen in that role and is being portrayed as half of Santa Hates You, not as PS' hot groupie who sings sometimes.

So, in my opinion, this is the difference between women just being used because they are sexy to be eye candy in videos, and women making music who happen to also be sexy, who are respected for their music. Get it?

Feel free to argue with me. Arguments can be made that often only attractive people get jobs as singers. The band's website says:

"Members and founders of the band are the musical icon Peter "PS" Spilles and the enigmatic italian vocalist Jinxy. Legend has it that they first met at the Ohlsdorfer Cemetery in Hamburg, where it is said that they accidentally 'scared the hell out of each other'. Apparently it was then that PS noticed Jinxy's unusual voice, and, well, it seems safe to say that he was quite intrigued by what he heard."

I am gonna believe this to be true, in part because of my love for Pitchfork and their anti-oppression lyrical tendencies (which have been mentioned before in this blog) and also because she is quite interesting and talented from what I have listened to so far.

And PS ain't too shabby looking himself is he?


  1. Replies
    1. They've pretty much been on repeat in my mp3 player since I heard about them. I hope they tour here.

  2. I think you described the sound and lyrical concept well; it's super fun to listen to and I would readily go after more.
    As for your assessment of the gender/power relationships, I read it differently. I don't know anything about this band's creative process other than what you've written, but in terms of Jinxy's presentation in this video, it seems very directed toward the male gaze. I know you have a tendency to read liberatory themes into pretty much everything and I know you've said you like to (pretend to) be the male gaze, but when I watch it seems like she's in an Herbal Essences commercial. She very seldom looks at us and I posit that this is because she is there to be looked at. Spilles embraces an intentionally hideous visual aesthetic, which makes her conventional sexiness all the more pronounced. The lyric structure is call and response. He's the call, she's the response. She thrashes around ornamentally for the most part. I'm fully willing to believe that Jinxy is a collaborative creative element in the production of Santa Hates You, but I submit that the visual product here is one that downplays her agency.

    1. Yes but is there never space for women to do this kind of sexy stuff? I've seen her stage performances and it seems that she is always doing this stuff. And as for the process from what I understand she writes mostly lyrics and sings and PS write mostly other parts of the music and sings. I kind of like the juxtaposition of PS being really creepy (but still kinda hot, does that make me weird? I am weird.) and her weird hair flipping. I guess I can see how the visual product could downplay it, but is that because of the portrayal, or how society views women and sexiness? Can the artist be blamed for the patriarchy?

  3. While I value the contraposition of visual extremes, just think how likely we are to find a glamorous man paired with an intentionally hideous woman. Just think what a stir it causes when a beautiful female star takes on an "unattractive" character, whether it's Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed, Katy Perry in Last Friday Night, Lady Gaga as Jo Calderone, and the internet has made me aware that America Ferrera plays a character called Ugly Betty? Given the cultural context, such a pairing wouldn't create an analogous effect.

    I put on a show with some friends last night where dancing and costuming were frequently explicit in nature (I'll email you pics when I get em ;-D ), so I'm not saying that public performances of female/feminine sensuality are inherently terrible. Both for me last night and hopefully for Jinxy in her career we have creative control over our respective presentations. Maybe it's real for her not to meet the gaze of the viewer. Maybe all the ways in which she is presented here represent her truth. As a media-literate viewer, though, I don't find the end result divergent from products of the dominant culture.

    But I'm sure another feminist could watch my show last night and deem my performance anti-feminist. I think the best we can hope for is to be aware of what we're doing and examine how we present ourselves and the socio-cultural context in which we do so.