Blood on the Camera

November 2, 2007

I meant to write this just after I had watched Children of Men, but it has been a while so bear with me. I will re-watch it and update this post with more specifics when I can get a hold of the DVD.

There has been a lot of debate as to the significance of the blood on the camera lens during the long uncut explosion scene in Children of Men. Some people say that it detracts from the movie by pointedly showing the viewer the camera. Some say that it adds to the feeling of the movie by making the explosions and death seem more real.  I suggest that it adds to the reality of the movie by highlighting the camera.

It is much like watching the news.  When you watch film of tornadoes, floods, or even war you see the person speaking who is well, like the star of the show. Also, like in the news, you never see the camera person, though you know that someone is filming the “star”. You stare in awe at the destruction around “you” as you put yourself in the position of the “star.” But you know logically that you, the viewer,  are safe and sound and out of danger. But then, like watching a news broadcast of a war zone or a storm, something comes out of the background and hits or almost hits the camera or the “star” like the blood droplets.  Then the viewer in you says, “Holy Crap, those people are really in trouble!” Now, in Children of Men, there is a next step. The viewer in you then says, “Hey, this is just a movie. Man, that was pretty intense… even though it is… fake!”

Thus, the blood spatter emphasizes the camera while still adding to the intense, inclusive, hold-your-breath-ness of the scene. In a way it even makes it worse, because, like when you realize that your favorite newscaster in a war zone has a camera team, you the viewer now know that there is not just one person in deep trouble, there are two.

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Experiencing Klosterman

April 26, 2007

Pretty much every piece presented in this class was new to me. I thought I was well read, but I guess I do not really expand out of the Scifi/ Fantasy genre. One work I found particularly interesting was Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman.

I really had no idea what to expect when I first bought the book, and the title threw me even further out into space, though the cover art looks like it would make for a great last meal (it is a picture of various pills floating in a bowl of milk).

This book is actually a collection of short essays covering a variety of topics including sex, drugs, and I am sure Cocoa Puffs are probably mentioned somewhere in there, though I cannot actually remember a specific instance. For class we read about sports, soccer specifically, and how it compares culturally to Klosterman’s experience as a little league coach. We also read about the ideals movies portray and how they are usually unobtainable in life. This important topic came through the story of Klosterman’s perceived competition with John Cusack for a woman and is mixed in with a preface concerning the new “emo” generation.

Klosterman’s style reminds me of the Howard Stern of criticism; he will write just about anything about just about any topic. His essays seem almost non-sequitor, but it is just that randomness of ideas that allows Klosterman’s true personality to flow into his writing. It is criticism in the manner of someone just thinking of a medium and all of the things interconnected with it and what that entire web says about society in general and life specifically. This style is contextual criticism, meaning criticism of a work by looking at the work itself and the aspects surrounding it. This is perhaps less logical than, but just as thoughtful as all other types of criticism. It plays on the illogicalness of the human mind, and leads you like Alice in Wonderland, down a twisted path of criticism of a medium and its affect on society.

Personally, I enjoyed Klosterman’s work. It was a bit strange at first. The key is to expect the unexpected. It is as it claims to be, a “low culture manifesto,” but that is not a bad thing. It does not claim to be a piece of great art, and in that simplicity it achieves just that. It is a piece of art.

A movie from the Past

April 12, 2007

Blog A movie from the Past

 

There is another Hepburn out there, no relation between the two, who also filled the screen with her presence and solidified a place for herself in movie history.

This Hepburn happens to be Katharine Hepburn, and though she played many roles in many movies, here I am going to talk about a movie in which she played opposite the stunning Cary Grant. This movie is …(May I have the envelope please…) Bringing Up Baby!!

 

This 1938 movie is a classic comedy of errors, adapted to film by Nichols and H. Wilde from a story written by the latter. Right at the first it was a box office…flop, and even caused director H. Hawks to lose his job with his next RKO film. Then the film not only began to pick up steam within Hepburn’s career, but also became so ossified as a classic that it continues to bring in revenue for the Hepburn estate.

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SPOILER WARNING: plot information to follow…

 

Bringing Up Baby details the exciting encounter between a modest-living paleontologist David Huxley, played by Grant, and the outrageous society girl, Susan Vance, played by K. Hepburn, who’s has her eyes set on him. David and Susan first meet when Susan steals his car. David has been out playing golf with the lawyer, a Mister Peabody, of a potential large-scale donor to David’s institution and happens to glance over and see a woman in his car and trying to move it. Well, after a brief altercation with words in which Susan tries to convince David that it is actually her car, she drives off with him on the running board screaming, “I’ll be with you in a minute, Mr. Peabody.”

 

Later that evening David is due to meet Mr. Peabody for dinner and cocktails in a local up-scale restaurant. In the interim, Susan has been practicing the art of dropping olives, well, that is, throwing them and trying to catch them in your mouth. As coincidence and good directing would have it, David walks by just as Susan drops another olive. He proceeds to fall, and land unceremoniously on his hat. With many a further mishap, David eventually manages to get to Susan’s apartment, her having had the back torn off of her dress, and him having had her tear his coat. He then heads home, assuring Susan that he never wants to see her, ever again.

 

The next morning the very last bone needed to finish the brontosaurus exhibit in the museum arrives at David’s house. Shortly after, David gets a call from Susan claiming to have a leopard from her brother Mark, a big game hunter, in her apartment. The leopard growls, Susan trips, and David assumes the worst- leopard attack. With Susan’s urging he rushes right over only to find that the leopard, of course, is harmless. It is named Baby because it responds well to the song “I can’t give you anything but love, Baby!” Susan releases the leopard to follow David afoot, while she tails them in her car. (This time hers for real.) Well, David simply cannot allow himself to be tailed by a leopard, so Susan convinces him to help her take the leopard to her Aunt’s house in the country and possibly she will help him get a private interview with Mr. Peabody, her Aunt’s, the big donor’s, lawyer. Well, a stolen car and a cartload of exotic fowl later they reach the Aunt’s home. David is supposed to be getting married later that day, but once Susan hears about this she steals his clothes leading to an interesting encounter between David in Susan’s frilly house robe and Mrs. Random in which he possibly just “went gay all of a sudden!!” Susan convinces her aunt that David is a friend of Marks in need of rest from a sudden nervous break down.

 

Then the fun continues. David must hide his identity from Mrs. Random after that encounter and becomes Mr. Bone. They get jailed, lose the bone, lose the leopard, confuse if for another leopard, and Susan and David end up married in the end with the money having been donated by Susan after her Aunt gave it to her.

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This plot takes many more twists and turns than could ever be detailed here. You’ll just have to watch it for yourself. There is always something going on, a very manic and energetic movie, but it isn’t tiring. It is refreshing, and even though I’ve seen it a thousand times I still am finding new things to enjoy about it. K. Hepburn and Grant are great actors, not of our time, but marvelous nonetheless. They have great timing and the whole production was well directed, not ostentatious at all.

  

My Favorite movie: My Fair Lady

April 4, 2007

“I could have danced all night…” “I’ve grown accustomed to her face…”  “Damn! Damn! Damn! Damn!” and “Come on Rover, move your bloomin’ arse!!”

 

All movie buffs should recognize at least one of those quotes from this well known musical film of 1964, starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn. Do you know what it is? It is My Fair Lady and by far my favorite movie.

 

My Fair Lady is a movie based on a stage musical based on the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion. Though, technically a remake of a remake, the film is as new and fresh as ever, mostly due to the charismatic and dynamic acting of leading persons Rex Harrison, as Professor Henry Higgins, and Audrey Hepburn , as Miss Eliza Doolittle.

 

Higgins and Eliza meet on a rainy evening in London on the steps of the church where Higgins has just finished boasting to fellow dialect colleague Colonel Pikering that they pass off any lowly “guttersnipe” like Eliza as a duchess at an Embassy ball.  Eliza, suprisinly, goes to Higgins the next day, for speaking lessons. Throughout the tortures of learning to speak properly Eliza and Professor Higgins fall into a very close friendship, if not love, but both must overcome their pride to admit to it.

 

My Fair Lady the screenplay is very well written and I can picture no other two actrons able to pull it off. Harrison and Hepburn  each seem to feed off the other’s energy and the acting becomes real. They bicker with ease and transition easily from scene to scene and from spoken dialogue to into song. The singing is dubbed, but of very high quality, and the technical aspects of the camera are done well, with no abnormal cuts and lots of fading into other scenes, which helps to facilitate the flow of the story as well as its feel as a stage musical. If the transitions between scenes were too sharp and clean, it would feel too much like a modern movie.

 

There has been not better casting ever made than when they chose diminutive Hepburn to play Miss Doolittle. Her very tiny frame and features only highlighted the intricacies of the period dress of the turn of the century. Also, her timid appearance lent itself well to be transformed through teaching and will power from a common flower girl to a self-made, independent, yet feminine and lovely woman.

A Past artist or band: Jim Croce

March 21, 2007

Blog Past Band or Artist: Jim Croce

 

An all American singer and songwriter Jim Croce left a lasting imprint on the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Most of his songs are sung in a ballad style, and though trendy and pop-like Jim Croce’s music is fundamentally country. He, like many 1960’s singers, speaks of freedom and love and the occasional mention of speed (the drug) addiction. He brought to the forefront such hard characters as Jim and Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, but also has a much softer side as illustrated in one of my favorites “Time in a Bottle.” The characters and songs mentioned above did not originally appear together. Now. they appear with many other pieces of Croce’s work appear on VH1 Behind the Music: The Jim Croce Collection, from which I was introduced to Jim Croce, by my mother. Jim Croce began as a soloist, but after his marriage to wife Ingrid Croce they began singing together as a duet.

 

Jim Croce’s voice is very smooth and only slightly country accented. He does not have a very wide range, note wise, but that only adds to his appeal. No showy lyrics or notes, just simple relaxing ballads. It extends easily from the fun faster songs like Speedball Tucker to the long drawn out love ballads like Lover’s Cross and Time in a Bottle. I would like to draw a comparison to a contemporary artist, but Croce’s style is so unique that I cannot think of another artist who would depict it accurately. His style is very time oriented. Though Croce’s songs are understandable and influential here in the 2000’s, you cannot listen to these songs without being taken back to the 1960’s. Having at least a rudimentary understanding of America in that time period heightens this experience, but is not necessary. Such is the beauty of Croce’s music; it is both complicated and yet easily understandable and enjoyable. Thus it can appeal to all ages.

 

All in all, in the end, Jim Croce’s songs boil down in to two distinct categories, emotional ballads and bawdy ballads. Of the emotional ballads, the most effectual is Time in a Bottle.  His other love ballads, such as Operator and I’ll have to say I Love You in a Song are great, but Time in a Bottle just takes the cake. In only two minutes and twenty-eight seconds, Croce wins every heart in the audience. Its appeal comes from the self-sacrificing ideas of the verses and the reality of life in the chorus, a straightforward “You’re the one I want to go through time with.” The thesis of the song is filling up your entire life with another person, and wanting to spend “every day till eternity passes away” with that person. This song speaks deeply of commitment and has been a popular song at weddings since its release.

 

Jim Croce is very different from much music listened to today, even from modern singer songwriters, however this does not limit his appeal. He is a blast from the past that bridges parent’s and children’s generations.

Contemporary Artists: Evanescence

March 14, 2007

Evanescence is one of my favorite contemporary bands. They were founded by lead singer and songwriter Amy Lee and Ben Moody, former guitarist. These homegrown Little Rock singers actually met at a youth camp in 1998 and went on to release a successful album, Fallen, in 2003. During and shortly after their European tour for Fallen there were some big changes. First, during the tour, Ben Moody left the band due to “creative differences”. Later, after the tour, bassist Will Boyd left the band to be close to his family. Terry Balsamo from the band Cold and Tim McCord from Revolution Smile, respectively, replaced the two members. This line up went on to release the album The Open Door, which is good, but does not quite meet up to the older Evanescence standards.

 

My favorite Evanescence album is their first, Fallen. The songs on The Open Door are deep; they are moving, but the songs on Fallen just touch my soul so much deeper. I think it is because my first introduction to the band was with Fallen. Listening to the sound of Amy Lee’s voice for the first time, well, it’s like your first kiss. You’ll never quite forget it and it will always hold a special place in your mind.

Fallen consists of twelve songs, and is most known for songs like Bring Me to Life, Everybody’s Fool, and Tourniquet. Tourniquet happens to be my favorite. It was written originally by Rocky Gray of Soul Embraced, a Christian death-metal band, and was adapted and adopted by Amy Lee when Gray joined Evanescence. They added a second verse to the original lyrics and dropped the word “My” from the original title. It is both a beautiful and horrible song. It details the ideas of death, God, and salvation from the perspective of someone who has just committed suicide. The chorus begins, “My God, My tourniquet, return to me salvation!” Then the song ends with,

My wounds cry for the grave.
My soul cries, for deliverance.
Will I be denied ?

                                              Christ! Tourniquet! My suicide

That song, it simply leaves me speechless…

 

Interestingly, Amy Lee wrote the song Everybody’s Fool about her little sister, Carrie’s, obsession with pop stars Brittany Spears. Amy wrote it as a treatise on false images and playing to the media like some celebrities have a tendency to do. As the title implies, these think that people actually believe them, but do nothing but create fools of themselves.

 

Amy Lee has a beautiful voice. She has a better sound in Fallen than she does now. In this album she makes really good use of her full rich tones and her ability to produce notes within a wide range while keeping good intonation and without sounding nasally. She can even do screaming vocals and make them sound pretty as she does a little in Bring me to Life. Fallen by Evanescence is a great album to add to your collection full of songs with deep, touching meanings.

    

Leah’s Favorite Artist: Loreena McKennitt

March 1, 2007

I am unfortunately one of those people who listens to music without really knowing who the artist it. What is important to me is the words. If I can figure out the words, if the song has a good or interesting message, if I can sing along with it, then I’ll probably like that song. I’m not usually drawn to a particular artist because I am more of a song person, but the work of Loreena McKennitt has a special appeal to me.

 

I own two of her albums The Book of Secrets released in 1997 and The Mask and Mirror released in 1994. All of the songs on both cds speak to me on a personal level, but before I explain the music, let me tell you a little bit about Loreena McKennitt.

Loreena is a Canadian who sings much of her music in a modern Celtic style. Though the combination of a Canadian Celt might seem a bit strange, it becomes less so knowing that she is of Scottish and Irish decent. Her music is most often classified as modern/folk type music, and not all of it has words. Loreena is just as well known for producing beautiful instrumentals as lyrical songs.

 She is a singer, and also, a composer, a pianist, and a harpist. Before this multitalented woman composes any songs, she fully researches the topics and even tours old ruins and other countries for inspiration. She often, likes to ground her music in something literary. This way she is producing an art form truly her own, taking something written and loved and translating it into song, the speech of the soul. She has turned to song such pieces as Lord Alfred Tennyson’s Lady of Shalot, “Prospero’s Speech” from The Tempest by William Shakespeare, and The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes (all of which I have, by the way.) Always, you more feel her music than hear it.

As for her music, it never fails to touch the soul of the listener. Some songs have an almost Spanish/ Gypsy sounding rhythm, others are slow and melodic, soothing. Other songs reflect the tribal drum essence of her Celtic background. Mask and Mirror is based on works from 15th century Spain, whereas The Book of Secrets is an example of the more Celtic/ Irish style. Without the words, the music and beat alone leads you though a whole range of emotions and feelings. In her album Mask and Mirror you are led from a heated dreamlike state to a woman’s death and her magical revenge. Then on, Loreena leads us, on to the tantalizing smells and sights of a night market. Her music is powerful, sexy, seductive, yet not heavy, its refreshing and always draws you in. I can never listen without wishing for a full moon and a fire around which to dance all this even before you add the words.

Loreena McKennitt never has simple songs. Above the steady rhythms and off-beat syncopation, hang her beautiful words and the stories she weaves. She speaks of fellowship, love, both platonic and romantic. She speaks of loss, of love unrequited, of betrayal and revenge. The song The Highwayman mentioned earlier from her The Book of Secrets album dictates to us the story of Bess, the land-lord’s daughter, whose fatal love for a highwayman, thief, causes both of their deaths at the hands of the evil English Red Coats (King George’s soldiers). Then, in The Mask and the Mirror, the song The Bonny Swans speaks of a sister who murders her sister to steal her man and is then exposed when the dead sister’s bones are made into a magical harp and set to play in the court. On a happier note, in The Mummer’s Dance of The Book of Secrets, we are allowed to participate in the joyous all-night celebration of marriage and greet the happy couple in the morning with a green bough of leaves. Loreena always ends with a song to touch the soul, penetrating to unknown depths and often awaken faith and induce oh so sweet, sorrow. The Book of Secrets ends with Dante’s Prayer, crying “please remember me” and The Mask and Mirror with Prospero’s Speech.

Most of all, I love her love songs. They are often of star crossed lovers, or at least those who are being somewhat risky, but they always speak of true love and true caring for another being. The token love song of The Mask and Mirror is entitled Dark Night of the Soul. Here, a young woman sneaks from her house in the dead of night to meet her love in the woods. For The Book of Secrets, the love song is a bit different. The song Skellig, tells the story of an Irish monk locked away for many years in prison and the fatherly love he feels toward his pupil as he leaves his books of knowledge, his legacy and dies.

Loreena McKennitt’s style is very melodic. She tries to all but eliminate choppy phrases and allow the music to flow of its own accord. Sometimes this makes her a little hard to understand. She forms her words in the operatic style with really long vowels and emphasis on the note rather than the word. It is simply part her signature style and probably the only thing I could fault her for. It adds to the flow of the music; by focusing on the vowels rather than the consonants she creates a continuous stream of music that is quite pleasing to the ears. It just makes it difficult to figure out the words. Luckily, her albums come with a detailed description including both the words to the song and Loreena’s inspiration.

 Loreena McKennitt’s music touches me deep down in the very depths of my soul. It is both calming and inspiring. This modernized folk type music isn’t for everyone, but it should at least be given a try. I guarantee it will make you feel something.   

Myth-Busters: real TV

February 22, 2007

The Discovery Channel’s Myth-Busters program runs on the saying that “no myth is safe”. This is true in at least two definitions of the term. The first is the most denotative. They do literally test myths out and often provide conclusive, believable answers. Sometimes though, the members of the Myth-Busters team are just not specialized enough to test some myths conclusively.

 

The two main Myth-Busters are Adam Savage and Jamie Hyndman. These previous special-effects specialists have now turned to changing the way everyday people view the myths on which we base our lives, not in the philosophical way, but in the scientific and urban legend way. Their on air team was joined by Kari Byron, Grant Imihara, and Salvatore Bellici, and there are many others behind the scenes who make appearances.

 

The Myth-Busters team’s job is basically to myths, urban legends, scientific misconceptions, and just plain silly stunts and see if they could really have happened, or recreate those that have already happened. They have done everything from exploding cigarette lighters to water bottle jet packs. They have even tested to see how much pop rocks and soda it would actually take to explode your stomach. The strangest myth they have busted, to my knowledge is “pyramid power.” Apparently, certain structures are supposed to have mystical preservation powers. Though they did try to tackle this myth, the team usually avoids such mystical, magical, mumbo-jumbo.

 

The only criticism I can make concerning the Myth-Busters team and methods are a lack of specialization. They are scientists and special effects specialists, but they sometimes do not have the skills necessary to adequately bust every myth. They have brought in specialists in the past, such as explosive specialists and archers, but that resource needs to be used more often. Such as their numerous sharpshooter myths and the rocket propulsion myths. Sharpshooters and rocket experts should be the natural number one resource in breaking any such myth.

 The best thing about Myth-Busters, however, is not the myth busting, but the character dynamic between the members of the team. It like watching a social drama for nerdy people, because it never fails that one member or another will end up angry and they always end up laughing, usually at themselves. They make mistakes; things go wrong; sometimes stuff blows up in a truly awesome way. Those problems are what make Myth-Busters a show to watch over and over again. At the end of each hour you’re left wondering, “What will they blow up, I mean think of, next!!”

Old TV Series: Maverick

February 15, 2007

I get to explain my strange childhood TV addiction to you. Hm, where to start? Aha, Maverick!!

Many are familiar with the 1990’s film, Maverick starring Mel Gibson, as Bret Mavierick, and James Garner, as Bret’s “Pappy”. This film is loosely based on the western TV series of the same name. Mel Gibson did a good job in the role of Bret Maverick, but no one will ever compare to young James Garner in that same role many years before.

I know that Maverick may just seem like simple entertainment, and it is, but being simply entertaining can be very important. We live in a world that can be ugly, dirty, and just plain mean. It is nice to be able to giggle at the plight of a couple of crazy guys and gals getting them selves into crazy situations. Maverick provides that, while also providing a sense of stability. Maverick will never die, and will always get out of what ever trouble he’s gotten himself into. Personally to me, Maverick was what brought my family together after dinner, when we could just unwind as a family. So, here’s just some of what is interesting in the Maverick way of life.

The original Maverick series ran from 1957 to 1962 and aired on  ABC network. The series began with only James Garner as Bret Maverick and later Jack Kelly was added as his brother, Bart. Throughout the series Bart and Bret weasel their ways, sometimes both of them, sometimes separately, out of sticky situations that are usually the effects of other people. The most notorious trouble makers to grace the show were Dandy Jim Buckley (played by Eferm Zimbalist, Jr.), Gentleman Jack Darby (Richard Long), Samantha Crawford (Diane Brewster), and Cindy Lou Brown (Arlene Howell). Bret, James Garner, starred alone in many of the first season’s episodes, but through increasingly difficult contract troubles and the sheer energy of Jack Kelly, Bart began to take on a more significant role. As the seasons continued to roll on, first Beau Maverick (later James Bond, Roger Moore) then Beau Maverick were introduced to take over for the Bret and Bart duo. Roger Moore had his appeal, but there was just competing with James Garner and Jack Kelly in my opinion.

Some of the most well known episodes also happen to be some of my favorites, though I pretty much like all the episodes equally. One well-known episode is entitled “Shady Deal at Sunny Acres.” In this episode Bret makes a deposit at a bank, but the dirty banker takes Bret’s money to buy out his banking partner and thereby run the bank. Bret goes to get his deposit out and finds that it was not even written down and his receipt was not valid. Determined to get his money back, Bret storms out of the bank and takes up residence in the hotel across the street. More accurately, Bret takes up residence in a rocking chair on the front porch of the hotel across the street. Then miraculously Bret’s cohorts in mischief, including Bart, begin to arrive, all independently of each other and claiming to have no previous acquaintance with Bret.  In the end Bret gets his money back, but I cannot tell you how. That would ruin all the fun.

Another episode, Rope of Cards, Maverick, sorry, Bret, finds himself on a jury trying a murder suspect. Bret, eventually, convinces everyone, but one very stubborn gentleman to aquit. Bret then places a bet, his vote to hang against the other man’s vote for acquittal, that he can make five pat, five card, hands out of the first 25 cards of the deck. The man takes this bet, because logically it is very rare that the first five cards will make a pat hand and increasingly less likely that any other five cards will be pat after that. Well, I won’t give away the secret of the little game of Maverick Solitaire, but I will tell you that Maverick wins and the suspect is not convicted.

One of my favorite episodes starring Jack Kelly is entitled “Savage Hills.” This time it is Bart’s turn to have a run in with the infamous Samantha Crawford. In this episode they run dangerously through Indian Territory all the while wondering who is going to turn on who next. Another favorite Bart episode is the Jeweled Gun where as usual Bart is framed for murder and must find a way out.

Finally, we get to the best episode of all, where we find out why Bret and Bart can’t go back to Texas. While stuck in a flood with Dandy Jim, Bret and Bart tell their tale of woe. The tale that has kept them away from home and on the trail for the “tall man” for some years now. The Tale that I cannot tell you at this moment.

Maverick plays on all of the stereotypes of the old west. These are just harmless fun now because we recognize these stereotypes to be wrong, but when actually thinking critically about the series, it has some serious flaws. Its treatment of women, Hispanics, and Native Americans is appalling, but that was just the stereotype that Maverick was put around as a simple, good guy/ bad guy western.

I love Maverick. Their numerous plights are very entertaining, and the acting is always superb. James Garner and Jack Kelly especially feed on each other’s comedic reactions. You can never tell what the brothers or the other characters are going to say next, you just know it is going to be funny. Once you bring in Samantha Crawford you know for sure that you will be lost in a wild see of hilarious confusion as she talks circles around the men and even though they know her, she always manages to lead them in to some scheme or another. 

  

Leah’s Formative Aesthetic Experience: Clothing

February 2, 2007

So, you want to know about a formative aesthetic experience concerning a medium. Well, the medium of the day is clothing. I guess it was around the ninth grade when I finally emerged from my three-year experience that completely changed the way I viewed clothing. For three years I sat on the outskirts watching people, trying to find those oh so subtle differences that separate the haves from the have-nots. Then I got it, probably around the time when I met my husband, and after viewing a documentary on clothing and appearances on the Discovery Channel. I realized the only thing the really that separated the so-called preps and jocks from the nerds and Goths was clothing styles. If you had the right threads you could float between different groups on different days, all depending on what you happened to be wearing. From that point on, I never wore another pair of blue jeans to school again, until my husband and I were engaged. Clothing not only defines who you are in other peoples’ eyes, it also influences and is influenced by your view of yourself. 

Let us say, that you see a woman wearing black tight pants, a corset, with a dog collar and chains strewn about herself, you would think it would be safe to assume that that person is a member of the so called “Gothic” community. This assumption leads you to believe that maybe she is a devil worshiper, does drugs, and/or listens to heavy metal and death music. Truth is, you could be very wrong, but that does not stop society as a whole from passing judgment on that person. You do not even know her; it could have been a dare. Now for a second scenario. There is a woman in a business suit, nicely tailored, conservative, charcoal gray. She is beautiful, obviously takes great care in her appearance. Would you be surprised if she were the same woman you saw yesterday in chains? Most of society would say yes. As the documentary on the Discovery channel showed, and as my own experiences have shown, sometimes the clothing does make the man, at least the man that you perceive.

Clothing also has a bad habit of influencing how you view yourself. Which is why people usually dress to reflect their mood, and dress to affect their mood. Many people are familiar with “sweat pant days.” These are days when you still feel fundamentally comfortable with yourself and your body image, but just do not feel like taking the time to actually put on “real” clothing. Black in America as the colour of mourning. Though this concept is readily acceptable in our culture, it is rather absurd. Black is just another color. I dress up when I feel depressed. A lot of people do, at least if they realize that they are feeling depressed and wish to rectify the situation. I dress up when I feel bad because people are more likely to notice that I tried to put effort into my appearance and will compliment my look. Compliments naturally make me feel better. I never dressed up before I had this life changing epiphany.

Clothes also affect your behavior. In my experience, people do not run in three-piece suits. Also, women wearing dresses are expected to act more “lady-like.” You are less likely to be bold and daring when dressed conservatively or drably. When I was in high school and still dating, I realized that I was less likely to flirt if I was not wearing “flirty” clothes. This is the basis for the idea of the “power suit.”

Now clothes do not automatically make the person, but if we are not careful, they can have that effect. I never really thought about clothing effects until I met my husband, until I watched that documentary and (though I did not mention this earlier) until I appeared mostly naked on stage (just kidding, I was only showing my arms and most of my legs, but that got a big reaction considering I never came to school in less than pants and a three-quarter sleeved shirt before that.) I can now, with effort, overcome the influence my clothing has on my behavior and separate my self-image from what I happen to be wearing. I go swimming in blue jeans; I go hiking in skirts; I climb trees in dress pants.