Archive for April, 2010

Glam – A history

So today I thought I’d briefly talk about the glam movement, which started out with glam rock but really can be applied to anything at all. It’s a really cool concept too, and something that I think a lot of people don’t quite get. Most of the time glam is associated with glam rock or glam metal, and you see it and think of big hair, fashionable androgyny, tight clothes, lots of shiny surfaces, etc. And really, on the surface that is what you see, but it’s not what it’s about.

To start with, let’s look at the word “glam”. We don’t tend to think about it, but it’s obviously short for glamor. So when it started back in the day with glam-rock, people were using the word to describe a type of rock music that was glamorous due to the nature of the way it was presented. If we look at Wikipedia (what other references do people use these days? Encyclopedia Britannica? I think not!) the first musician to adopt this style was Marc Bolan, a British rocker. He had a two piece band called TYRANNOSAURUS REX holy shit that is awesome.

RRAAAGGGHHHHH!!!

Anyway this started the whole glam rock era made famous by musicians like Bowie, Gary Glitter, Elton John, Queen, Kiss and so on and so forth.

From this glam-rock influence, other genres adopted the glam style and made it their own. For example Gary Numan, a synthpop band, still styled himself in a very glam way despite his music not being rock at all. In recent years we still have glam styled bands like Marilyn Manson, which fall more into the genre of glam metal, although his Mechanical Animals era style was a direct reference to Bowie and Ziggy Stardust. He even took the androgyny thing so far that rumors still go around that he had a sex change and breast implants.

I wonder why?

Another band that comes to mind is Rammstein, the german industrialists. From simulated sex acts between the members of the band, to dragon masks that shoot fire, they are known for their industrial take on glamor that is decided darker, but still embraces the concept of making a traditional genre more glamorous.

in their own twisted way

All this leads me to my main point about glam, which so far hasn’t been touched on. We all recognize it, and probably think it’s quite cool, but we don’t really know how or why. And until recently, I was as much in the dark as you, dear reader. Then I happened to come across a quote by one of the members of Daft Punk which really illuminated the concept for me. When asked on whether the duo expressed themselves differently within their robotic suits, Bangalter (one of the two members) stated “No, we don’t need to. It’s not about having inhibitions. It’s more like an advanced version of glam, where it’s definitely not you.”

To me this is a revelation. What he’s saying is that glam is what it says it is, it’s a glamorized version of whatever it is you are adapting, including yourself, IE it’s not really you. It’s like a cool version of you, or the version of you you’ve always wanted to be, it can almost be like creating a character and assuming the persona of that character to act out your desires etc. I guess the difference that it made to me was that it means that glam is less about the outrageous outfits and hair, and more about the creating of an alternate personality or image to act out in some way. In that way you could apply the concept of glam to almost anything, and having understood what it is, utilise perhaps in a way that others havn’t. For example I would feel confident in saying that comedian Noel Fielding is a glam comedian, both in terms of his personal style, but also in the way his personality as perceived by the general public is almost larger than life.

larger than life

All the artists I’ve mentioned above are perfect examples of this, say Manson (real name Brian Hugh Warner) for instance. He is a real person, and has a certain personality. But through his on-stage persona of Marilyn Manson, he can act out a different personality, a wilder, cooler, larger than life personality that people can focus their appreciation of the music on, and perhaps project themselves onto a bit. A good way to put it perhaps is that he tries to personify the music in a way he couldn’t otherwise, by becoming more than a musician, a literal interpretation of the music perhaps. I hope this is making sense.

Another example is Bowie, and in fact he really did assume different personae. He started with Ziggy Stardust and then moved onto the Thin White Duke, both variations of his personality he wanted to explore or highlight. The same goes for Kiss, Rammstein, and countless others, and in fact in some small way I would say that almost all musicians in some way employ the principle of glam to play up their image. In fact, I think it would be fair to say that glam is the definitively glamorous image of a person or group.

And here endeth the lesson.

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Redheads – A roundup

I’m not even sure why I’m doing this, but at the suggestion of a (ginger) friend, I’m doing a post about gingers (rangas, redheads, coppers, whatever derogatory term you can think of) and all their cultural significance (probably not much).

why do I even bother?

In case the chap in the image above isn’t familiar to you by the way, he’s an internet phenomenon (for all the wrong reasons of course) and anyone who’s sad enough to spend large amounts of time on the internet (myself) would know who he is. It’s a really good test actually, to tell how geeky you are, just peruse a bunch of memes and see how many you know. The less you know, of course, the more fulfilling your life.  Anyway, the story with the ginger kid above is that South Park did an episode that said that ginger people have no souls. I didn’t think anyone took that show seriously but apparently this kid did. Idiot. He made a video rebutting South Park’s “claims” insisting famously that “Gingers do have souls” and that is now how he is known on the internet. Seriously, google it.

South Park then went and mocked that, leading to more videos from the copper crusader. So thats one strike against gingers I think, he’s really not doing much for their credibility as a group. Or for Christians either for that matter. Fail.

A ginger that everyone knows and likes (or at least doesn’t hate) is Ronald Weasley from the Harry Potter francise. Although if you needed that little jog of the memory what rock have you been hiding under? Everyone knows the dude.

a face even a mother couldn't love

smarmy git

Theres not much else to say about him, except that Ron continues the stereotype of gingers being stupid sidekicks, thickheaded numbskulls who go around doing nothing more than making us laugh at their expense. No wonder they get a bad rap with this sort of mainstream exposure.

So this guy isn’t a ginger, obviously. But Jonah (as played by comedian Chris Lilley on Summer Heights High) was one of the first people I saw using the word “ranga” to describe a ginger person. I actually found the whole thing quite amusing because at that point in my life I wasn’t even aware that people with red hair were picked on or victimized (apart from the obligatory “does the carpet match the drapes?” comment on first meeting which isn’t really a big deal). So to see him have a go a small kid with red hair I found rather satirical of the way bullies of any sort operate; namely to insult someone in a way that was illogical, and therefore difficult to respond to (tried arguing with a crazy person before?).

But to me this sums up the whole situation with having a go at ginger people, someone has a dig, the red head thinks it’s unfair and takes offense, and because they’re getting a rise out of the victim, the bully will continue to harass. Remember when your mum told you to ignore what the bullies said and they’d go away? Yeah, she was right all along.

she is right, and you are wrong

Anyway to balance all of this ginger hate out, there are red headed people out there who are liked and even respected. I’ve already mention Ron from Harry Potter, who no doubt is loved by geeks and kids all over the world (even if we still laugh at him for being a dumbass), but there are others as well. Let me point you in the direction of Christina Hendricks.

making up for every other ginger all by herself

you get the idea I'm sure...

So I mean obviously she’s hot and attractive and also a red head. But even though I could stop here and redheads would still be winning, I think it’d be fair to mention a few others (even if they aren’t as good as Miss Hendricks).

less hot but more respect, like commanding one of the great empires of the world respect

another red headed royal. life can't be too bad for this guy

Nobody hated her (except for the supernatural) but then again, never got anywhere apart from the x-files, so I think she broke even really.

why do all the redhead guys look like douche bags?

and all the female red heads are pretty hot

And there are others like Napoleon (yes, that Napoleon), Geri Halliwell, Carrot top (although it’s easy to argue that he and all references to him should be suppressed), Debra Messing, and the list just goes on and on.

So to sum up: people give gingers shit, gingers are pussies and take offense to this, people keep doing it because it’s funny. But at the end of the day gingers are just people with red hair (and freckles) who burn easily. I’m pretty damn sure that’s all there is to say about the subject. Although I can’t expect it, I hope never to have to talk about the gingerliness of anyone ever again.

some random ranga and a cohort

Horrible sci-fi and fantasy book covers – awesome site I found…

Stumbled across this site which is a blog of really really aweful sci fi and fantasy book covers. Good way to kill an hour or so. And some of the covers are just unbelievable 😀

You get the idea…they’re pretty terrible.