GOT, marking and the Useful Box

I’ve got a performance next saturday! yay! super-excited!

In the meantime,  it’s that time of year again. A time of never getting out of my pyjamas, of living in slippers and sleep encrusted eyes, of wandering around with a pencil above my ear and piles of paper strewn in various places…. where I shift between couch, bed, desk and stovetop to cook more soup or tea, or make toast…..

it’s marking time. 3 weeks in a sunless city of so many words, which I am so grateful are on paper and not online that I nearly chew my lead pencil with joy. However, when not marking essays I can’t bear to look at books – just numbers, and silly escapist television. At the moment it’s Harry Potter, and the occasional Game of Thrones episode.

Watching the final GOT series 3, was not hampered by this brilliant critique by Aamer Ramen. It followed from his first post – where his apt description of the final scene of Daeneris as ‘crowd surfing like a Targeryan Bono” , had me chortling. I agree with his critiques. The show is facile, misogynist, orientalist garbage. I also like dancing around the loungeroom to the theme song with my dragon puppets (wife and I are 8-year-olds at home). Reading vast amounts of theory on identificatory visual pleasures, doesn’t detract from the pleasures of identification, of sliding into a facile comfort with sheer escapist drivel – of seeing my nascent cultural roots tapped and retapped and reworked.  I like the northerners accents, love the sweeping cliffs… love the sheer OTT spectacle. It’s not as enjoyable sober, as it was half sloshed, but it is a great brain numbing background to crochet.

Harry Potter is also sexist garbage, though Hogwarts also gives me fond memories of Sydney Uni…..  and I’m marking the essays of the generation who grew up with Harry Potter – with the books, and ageing simultaneously with the movies. It’s a very different world to the 21st century I have inhabited until now. As I read my students struggling with that world – their worlds of every day, problematic culture, that is intimately banal, and also meaningful, read their references to bits of popular culture that I am increasingly familiar with, and read their attempts to contest it. And – there is always contestation and re-imagining and re-viewing. I used to think that watching trash would actually dull my brain, and right now when I’m feeling so tired, I think maybe it has, but then I remember that no, of course it hasn’t. The media doesn’t work through cause and effect in such a simplified way.

Meanings circulate into and out of representations, into and out of cultural forms. We can and do transform what we do with the dominant social messages, whether we contest them directly, or rework particular aspects (like the dragons). Baroque and camp aesthetics both operate in this way – taking fragments, and reworking them over and over again to become utterly detourned and utterly queer.

There is some brief light in this dark Melbourne winter. On solstice night I’ve got a bunch of friends together to do some CRAZY performances.

Here’s the blurb:

The Useful Box involves a series of performances of queer bodies doing challenging, experimental and humorous work with a range of objects and ideas. Rain Oberon will share her version of border smashing virtuoso dance to challenge ideas about cultural stereotypes and gender identity in mindbogglingly elegant fashion, while  host, The evenings host, Mangina Mayhem will present 3 short pieces combining boxes, lip synching and female drag personas; the Sappho of Seddon, Jaq Enema, will be reading some of her sapphic odes, Trish will share her cupcakes, and hitch up your support hose for everyone’s favourite geriatric porn star, Nanna Madge. Shane McGrath will tantalise you with tales from wrestling and battling bodily encounters while The Butcher Femme, in a visceral celebration of the body positive queer sexuality will press the flesh in ways that haven’t been seen before.

Special guest performance duo ZooFi have travelled form Sydney to participate in the event. ZooFi’s performance oeuvre flows wantonly from the unabashedly absurd to the exquisitely abject, mashing up and messing up genders, species, aesthetics, musical genres, philosophies, personal perversions and political proclivities. For The Useful Box they offer up a selection of their favourite words and wounds, plucking their petals and bleeding out the question: Well, did you think a revolution could be made with rosewater?’

All of the performers have had experience working together or working in a range of cities, and hope their collaboration can invigorate a performance scene that seems to be confined to either spoken word and burlesque. MC Mayhem said she misses the days of King Vic, and wanted to organise a night of edgy underground performance with a political edge to Melbourne. “Hares & Hyenas is the perfect venue for funny, crazy and provocative work; as a bookshop it disseminates queer ideas, and as a venue, its a space where edgy, alternative queers can feel safe to push the envelope of cultural expression.

the night is being organised as a fundraiser for Hares & Hyenas to keep it open as a bookshop and a venue.
Tickets are $10/$15. More info and bookings here. 

One response to “GOT, marking and the Useful Box

  1. Pingback: Marking land | Gender and Sexuality Debates·

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