An interesting essay by Laura Glenum on a subject that in some ways relies on the suspicious or skeptical response by those it purports to be speaking about. The Gurlesque I mean, and the gurls. Here she uses Sianne Ngai’s wonderful essay “The Cuteness of the Avant-Garde”:
The proper name for the domain of girly kitsch might be, in critic Sianne Ngai’s terms, the domain of the Cute. While this may seem the least harmless, least provocative of aesthetic categories, Ngai thinks otherwise. In “The Cuteness of the Avant-Garde,” Ngai suggests that violence lurks implicitly in the aesthetic of the Cute. Ngai notes, “The formal attributes associated with cuteness — smallness, compactness, softness, simplicity, and pliancy — call forth specific affects: helplessness, pitifulness, and even despondency” (Ngai 816). And further, “In its exaggerated passivity and vulnerability, the cute object is often intended to excite a consumer’s sadistic desires for mastery and control as much as his or her desire to cuddle” (Ngai 816). Cuteness is, of course, the realm of pre-pubescent girls and their small, furry companions, and if cuteness speaks to an exaggerated difference in power — “names a relationship to a socially disempowered other” — the relationship of owner to captive pet is the relationship par excellence that illustrates this phenomenon (Ngai 828).
It does make me want to read more from the poet in question.
Dodie Bellamy pushes the envelope a little further in her piece, “Girl Body“. For the record, the Hound is not buying the gurlesque. At least not as something that brings us forward in any way.
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